The holiday season is here and I can already feel the stress level rising. There is something so wonderful about the anticipation of an event that comes just once a year. And yet with all that anticipation it is bound to be a disappointment at some level. I am hosting thanksgiving at our house for the first time and have to make the transition from stirring batter and licking spoons to actually doing grown up helpful things. So this year we have been doing some things to keep the focus on giving thanks rather than making our celebrations pinterest-worthy.
A big part of giving thanks is slowing down enough to appreciate the gifts of God in all of life. Sometimes we need physical action to remind our hearts that God is good. So here are 5 ways I am giving thanks this year.
This year we have been giving thanks all season with this pumpkin. We bought one of those artificial carvable pumpkins from a craft store and have been adding things to it every day (well, most days that I remember). I like the artificial pumpkin because we can save it for next year, but you could easily do this with a real one. Since our kids are small I have been doing all the writing but it would also be great to have one out for the week of thanksgiving and let anyone add their own things to it.
If you work in an office or live in a dorm this would be a good community activity. We got a really big pumpkin for a school family event last month, let everyone add to it and then gave the pumpkin to the office staff.
ABC’s of Thanks
Work through the letters of the alphabet and see how many things you can come up with that you are thankful for. We left the sheet without lines because some letters are way easier to be thankful for. You can make your own or get our free downloadable here.
A Thanksgiving Tree
My family has made a thanksgiving tree every year for as long as I can remember. My parents live in the country so at some point every thanksgiving we set out in search of a manzanita bush or tree branch worthy of being a thanksgiving tree. Each year the leaves look a little different depending on what kind of paper is around and how ambitious the leaf cutters feel.
It doesn't really matter if you have a tree branch, or what your leaves look like. All you really need is small pieces of paper and something to collect them in or hang them on.
UPDATE: I was talking with my mom about our thanksgiving tree tradition and she sent me this gem of a picture. This is my older brother and me fully embracing the holiday spirit. I'm guessing you are blinded by our sheer awesomeness so please note the thanksgiving tree behind us.
Journaling thankfulness is a another way of incorporating intentional thanks giving in daily life. Sometimes I think, who has time for devotionals and journaling in the midst of busy holidays? But isn't that just the problem? We can too easily buy into the lie that a busy life is a full life. Journaling is only one way to do it, but if the business of life has convinced you that you don't have time for the source of life then something has gone terribly wrong.
Lets be real, sometimes holidays are the hardest times to give thanks. I can relate to Anne when she writes “how do you open the eyes to see how to take the daily, domestic, workday vortex and invert it into the dome of an everyday cathedral?”
Giving thanks does this. Giving thanks trains our eyes to see God, the good giver, and trust that whatever he gives is a gift.
Thank You Notes
Maybe this one is more of a confession than an activity. I am more than a little bit excited abut Target’s dollar aisle cards. They keep changing every season and every time I go down that aisle I inevitably end up with a pack of cards. But they are just $1 so how can I pass that up? Also they are great because then I don't cringe every time Sophia wants to take one to her teacher and can instead say “why yes, I’m sure your teacher would love 3 more thank you cards this week with the entire alphabet written on them.”
This thanksgiving I plan on putting some of those lovely cards to use. I know email is great, and free, but there is something great about real in-the-mail kind of mail. There are so many people whose very presence has been a source of life and joy. It is about time to say thanks. So during thanksgiving break I am setting aside time for me, a cup of coffee, and all those sweet little cards.
what about you? I would love to hear what you are doing this season to celebrate and give thanks.