Gratitude Is A Muscle

I’ve been trying to come up with ways that we can celebrate Thanksgiving for the weeks leading up to the holiday.  Since it comes right between Halloween and Christmas, it tends to be the overlooked holiday, even though I would much rather teach my child to be grateful than teach them to dress up and ask for candy door-to-door.

I don’t want Anja and Markus to grow up thinking Thanksgiving is just a holiday where you eat a ton of food, play with relatives and watch some football, so I want to incorporate the exercise of our “thankful muscles.”  I have been keeping a gratitude journal for the past month, and that has certainly helped me in working some of the flab off my heart.  I gave Anja a special notebook for recording things she is grateful for, but most of the pages have been filled with drawings of dragons and toilets.  Though I’m sure she is very thankful for dragons and toilets, we may have to have another discussion about the journal’s purpose.

Without further ado, here are some ideas on incorporating thankfulness into your month.

1. A Thankfulness Tree.  I saw the idea in a Pottery Barn Kids magazine.  Rather than spend $80 on a felt one to hang on the wall, I figured we’ll probably just make our own out of paper and tape it up.

2. If you want something more permanent, I love this idea of Becky’s.  You could do a new one every year and change it out.

3. A couple of my friends suggested buying a Thanksgiving meal for a needy family and delivering it.  While I don’t know how I’d feel about deciding someone is too poor and then bringing them food, we’ll definitely do some shopping for local food shelves.  This is another thing that even little kids can understand and help with.  By saying, “Which foods are you grateful for?” and then picking those same foods off the shelf to share, we express gratitude and help others simultaneously.

4.  Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child.  We have done this every year since before we were married.  Last year was the first time Anja was really able to participate, and though it was hard for her to grasp picking out toys and clothes for less fortunate boys and girls, I think she’ll be better able to “get it” this year.  Last year we also made an agreement with my brother and his wife that instead of buying each other gifts from now on, we’d each do extra boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

5. Read books and poems about thankfulness.


What are some ways you teach your child the importance of expressing thanks?


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