Sunday, November 28, 2010

Teaching Thankfulness: Focus on Others

Mom's Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving has come and gone in a blink of an eye and despite my promises to post lots of ideas, our personal plans for the holiday changed at the last minute and we left town in a flurry of activity.  OK, I could have carved out some time to post on Thanksgiving day but after the "Turkey Trot" fun run, stuffing ourselves with turkey and mashed potatoes and that glass of red wine, I was unable to get off the couch and do something productive.  If you were waiting in anticipation for fun ideas, I apologize, but I decided to post some of my ideas anyway.  We have the whole holiday season to focus on the blessings in our life and shouldn't we cultivate hearts of thankfulness all year round?

Each year we have a tradition where the grandchildren in the family
name the Thanksgiving bird.  Here we are carving "Tarzan the Turkey."

So, for those of you in the states, I hope you enjoyed your turkey and dressing and for the rest of you, maybe these ideas will fit in with your holiday celebration.

I mentioned in my last post, though it seems the holiday is mostly about food, the true tradition of Thanksgiving is rooted in the history of our country and the cooperation between two groups of people.  It is about people who endured great hardship and still found gratitude in their hearts for all that God had done for them.  With the food, parades and football games taking up a good chunk of time, I hope you all were able to focus on your blessings, even those who are in the midst of trials. 

If this week passed too quickly, as it often does, in a whirlwind of eating, shopping and travelling from city to city, then maybe this week will be a better time to count your blessings.  When we turn our focus outward, we naturally take our minds off ourselves and seeing those in need reminds us of all we have.  So consider serving at a soup kitchen with the kids or visiting a nursing home.  Sing carols in a poor neighbor and distribute hot home baked bread.  Love on the elderly or infirmed members of your family with special deliveries of sweets or holiday decorations.  

Here are a few ideas the Walls family are doing:

Alexandra's "shoebox" for Operation Christmas Child

In our family, we use Dave Ramsey's "commissions" method for allowances.  Each child earns money for chores and responsibilities they have in our home.  They are required to divide their earnings into three categories:  SAVE, SHARE and FUN. 

They have freedom to spend "fun" however they want.  They can save it for big items or spend it when the ice cream truck makes it's rounds in the summer.  "Save" goes in the bank for long term savings and "share" goes to charity.  They also have freedom to whom they give their "share" money.  We ask them to pray and let God lay the burden on their heart.  Often we save the "share" money during the year and spend it around the holidays.  This year, Alexandra chose Operation Christmas Child, an excellent charity that send shoe boxes full of gifts to children around the world.

Have the kids write down questions they would like to ask their grandparents or great grandparents.  It can focus on their they played, what they did for fun, what life was like for them or how the world has changed.  They can ask questions about holiday traditions.  Video record it for posterity.

Make homemade goodies and take them door to door.  The Walls family has been know to sing a few carols along the way. 

Homemade Chex Mix

We are working on this today so I don't have pictures yet.  I will post soon.  Have each person in your family write down five things for which they are thankful to God.  Encourage them to be creative. Food, shelter, freedom, family are all excellent answers but encourage descriptive answers.  Not just "dad" but "a dad who goes fishing with me every Saturday".  If your children are too small, write their answers for them.  Trust me, you won't have to tell them to be creative, it comes naturally!!  Then every day in December read a card at dinner time and say a prayer of thanksgiving and see gratitude cultivated in every one's hearts!  Even Mom and Dad!

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