In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn
harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national
Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
For many today, Thanksgiving celebrations focus around food and family, and not surprisingly, football and the Macy’s Parade. Yet this holiday provides a
wonderful opportunity to teach and impress upon our children, while
reminding ourselves, the spiritual practice of gratitude (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
Here are some creative and practical ways to have fun while also practicing gratitude together as a family.
Start a Family “Thanksgiving Journal”
This is something new for me that I will bring to my family this year. Purchase a
nice, blank journal and simply pass it around the table during dessert, or leave it
in a central spot, for family members and guests to write down at least one thing for which they are thankful. Parents can act as secretary for those who are too young to write, inviting the child to make a mark or scribble so they have the joy of participating. Next year, read aloud the entries prior to writing more.
Volunteer as a Family
There are many opportunities to volunteer together – such as ring the bell for the Salvation Army kettle. One of our LUMC family brings their musical instruments with them! Check the Weekly Info, our Facebook page, or our website for other opportunities, now and throughout the year.
Make room at your table
Not everyone has someone to share Thanksgiving dinner with: co-workers who
live far from home; a member of our church who lives alone; a neighbor. Extend
the invitation with sensitivity and genuine hospitality. If you are away for
Thanksgiving, consider inviting someone living alone over for a meal before or after the holiday.
Go for a family walk, or run
Take a walk together as a family, especially if this is not your normal routine. Or, if there is a local benefit run, consider running with at least one other family
Play table games
Not everyone is into football. Play a table game or put together a puzzle. One
suggestion is to have everyone write something they’re thankful for; fold and
place in a jar or bowl; and take turns reading one and letting everyone try to
figure out whose it is. For the competitive ones, you can even devise a scoring system.
The point is, on this holy-day, whose sole purpose is to reflect on all we’ve been given, let’s choose to be more intentional in expressing our gratitude and teaching our children (and grandchildren) to do so. In Psalm 50, verse 23, we read: “Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.”