Growing up with a Persian father who immigrated here at 15, Thanksgiving always took on an especially meaningful tone. We could feel the thanks pouring out of him as he labored over our classic American Thanksgiving meal, a task he looked forward to each fall. Thanks meant life, it meant dreams, it meant hard work and the opportunity to do it. It meant safety, it meant home, it meant family. It meant a long list of "firsts", an even longer list of challenges overcome.
Thanksgiving means something different for each family, but my hope is that, regardless of what is on your heart this Thanksgiving, you are full of abundant gratitude to God.
Here are a few ideas for Thanksgiving with your children this year:
Our littlest disciples may not be able to provide a long list of reasons why they are thankful, but they are certainly able to excitedly show or tell you the things they love!
- Ask your son or daughter to show you three things they are grateful for; encourage them to think of their favorite toy, book, or spot in the house.
- Ask your son or daughter what they love to do most with their mommy or daddy. Listen to why they love that activity or experience, and perhaps offer to do it more often.
- Trace his or her hand on paper and make a classic "hand turkey". Then, ask your son or daughter to come up with four things they are thankful for. Write those things in the four feathers, and of course, finish off with a face on the thumb!
- Start inviting your little one into the preparation for the holiday; perhaps he or she can fold napkins, carry light-weight items to the table, etc. Perfection isn't the goal, but rather, inviting them to give thanks and participate in creating family memories.
- KidWorks aged children were sent home with a memory verse for Thanksgiving, Colossians 3:17. Ask your child to share this verse with you, and use it as a launchpad for conversation at the table.
- Ask your children not only what they are thankful for, but how they can use their words and deeds to show their thankfulness.
- Ask your son or daughter what they hope they will be thankful for next year; perhaps mastering a new piano tune they are working on now, making it to the JV sport team of their choice, doing better in math, etc.
- Share, honestly, what you are thankful for with your children. We can often fall into platitudes at Thanksgiving, so try to be specific. This provides not only a window into the ways God works in the "grown up" world, but also creates opportunities for further conversation about how and when to give thanks to God.
- Make a list of what has been wonderful about the past year as a family. Save it and review it next year at Thanksgiving! Keep adding to it each year so you have a family history of thanks.
Wishing you a warm and comforting Thankgiving.