I don’t know about you, but approaching fall with thanksgiving just makes sense to me! Maybe it’s the smells, the cooler weather, or watching a football game that does it for me, but I absolutely love it! When I was growing up, my family would always take a trip each fall or winter from south Louisiana where we lived up to Pennsylvania, where both of my parents are from. We would hop in our huge conversion van we affectionately called “Big Bertha” because the thing was massive and drive for two days to get up north. The sights we would see on that drive from flat Louisiana to hilly Tennessee to the beautiful leaves changing colors as we approached Pennsylvania are memories I hold so dear to my heart.
It’s natural to want to share thanksgiving with our children. This ability to just be in the moment and remember all that Christ has done for us is so powerful. I am always reminded of the scripture “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever” from 1 Chronicles 16:34. If you have littles, you might feel like it’s too early to start any traditions or activities with them, but I would encourage you to put those thoughts aside and just try one or two really simple activities from the list below! With older kids, finding the time to dedicate to something like this is usually the hardest part. Take some time over the next family meal and talk to everyone about setting aside just 20-30 minutes to work through one of these as well. Your family will notice their moods are better, attitudes happier, and eyes remain fixed on Jesus in this season of thankfulness.
Age group: 3-99 (it works for almost everyone!)
Time: about 10-15 minutes each day depending on the size of your family
Materials needed: small tree branches from outsides, twigs, etc. Construction paper leaves
Directions: Around the first of November, collect a couple branches from outside. Or store bought is okay too if you don’t have access to the real thing. Cut down several dozen construction paper leaves. Tell the family each day (or if that is too much for your family, try a couple times a week or just once a week can still have an impact) perhaps at dinner time, they will grab a leaf and write (or tell you what to write for those too young) something that day they are thankful for. As they go to attach the leaf to the branch, have them share what they are thankful for with everyone. Try to pick new things each day so that as Thanksgiving approaches, you have a nice focal piece for your family to look at of all the ways God has blessed you.
Give Thanks for Others
Age group: 5 and up (those who can write)
Time: 15-20 minutes
Materials Needed: Blank index cards
Directions: It is so important to teach our children the value of kindness and complimenting others. Our kids need to see us expressing feelings and emotions so they grow up knowing it is normal and necessary for human relationships to thrive. If you celebrate Thanksgiving day with a large gathering of family and friends, this is the ideal time to do this activity but it also works with just a smaller family unit around the dinner table too.
Give everyone a blank index card and something to write with. Tell them to write something they appreciate about that person or are thankful for about them. After everyone has finished, everyone will collect the cards about them and read them aloud to the rest of the group. This simple gesture usually turns into something that means so much to everyone as they read just how valuable they are to each of their family members!
Here is just a short list of activities you could also think about doing for Thanksgiving with your family:
- Visit a local food pantry or soup kitchen to show your children how to serve and be grateful for what they have.
- Have your kids collect items in their rooms they don’t play with anymore, clothes that don’t fit still in good condition and donate those items to a Goodwill or similar store. Explain to them how when God abundantly blesses us, it is our responsibility as Christians to bless others as well.
- Consider switching roles with a member of your family to teach the children to be grateful for their providers and roles each family member plays. i.e. kids could cook dinner for mom; if dad does outside chores, mom could do them this day, etc.
- Spend time as a family reviewing the Bible together one night and challenge everyone to search for a verse they find that deals with thankfulness or gratitude to share with the family.
What are some ways you celebrate Thanksgiving with your family?
I pray your family experiences a wonderful Thanksgiving of gratefulness and love this year!
About the Author: Emily Holmes is a working mother of two, a wife, daughter, sister, and friend living in south Mississippi. Fall is her absolute favorite time of the year.