As October draws to a close and we turn our attention toward Thanksgiving, we are faced with myriad questions. Do we want a fifteen-pound turkey or Cornish hens? Should we make cornbread or oyster dressing? Will our guests prefer to eat in the formal dining room or have a more casual gathering outdoors? 

The questions seem endless. Sadly, we often overlook the most important question of all.  How do we cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in our families?

Let’s begin by considering the phrase, “steadfast love.” Do you know these two words appear together 196 times in the Old Testament? More than sixty percent of these times occur in the Book of Psalms. Time and again the Psalmist encourage us to remember the steadfastness of God’s love. This word steadfast means unchanging, irrefutable, without end.

To take this one step further, if we look at Psalm 136, we see that the Psalmist calls the people of Israel to remember God’s endless love throughout history, starting with creation, deliverance from Egypt, and provision of heritage in the Promised Land. Every remembrance listed here points us to the redemption and restoration found only in Christ.

How do we respond to God’s steadfast love? We start by looking at ways to reclaim Thanksgiving as a time for giving thanks.  Here are ideas that you may want to consider:

Pumpkin Centerpiece 
  • Place a pumpkin in the center of a table. Place two or three black markers beside the pumpkin.
  • Ask your family to write the things for which they are thankful on the pumpkin.
Blessing Jar
  • Name the things for which everyone in your family is thankful. Don’t forget the things we take for granted such as electricity, running water, the ability to see, God’s creation, etc.
  • Record each item mentioned  on a piece of colored paper (sticky notes work great) or the template provided below. The template has a turkey, which your grandchildren may want to color. https://sherryschumann.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Blessing-Jar-Template.pdf
  • You may want to store these notes in a glass jar. This becomes your family’s blessing jar, which you can use for years to come. 
  • If you want to create a Blessing journal to pass down to your children and grandchildren, you can record these blessings on a Blessing Memory Sheet and keep them in a decorative notebook. https://sherryschumann.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Thanksgiving-Blessing-Memory-Sheet.pdf 
Thanksgiving Show-n-Tell
  • Invite every family member to bring something for a Thanksgiving show-n-tell.
  • Ask each member to show the item they brought and explain why they are thankful for it.
Gratitude Garland
  • Use the following template to create Thanksgiving cards. It works best if you print them on cardstock. Make sure you have plenty. https://sherryschumann.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Template-for-Gratitude-Garland.pdf 
  • Use a hole punch to place a hole at the top of the card.
  • When your guests arrive, ask them to write down one blessing per card.
  • Invite your grandchildren to help you sting the cards on colorful yarn. Hang the gratitude garland in a prominent place for everyone to see.
Thanksgiving Wreath 
  • Ask each family member to trace their hands on at least three pieces of brightly colored construction paper.
  • Cut out these tracings.
  • Discuss some of the things for which they are thankful.
  • Write one thing per hand.
  • Glue the hands to a piece of poster board in the shape of a wreath.
  • Hang the wreath on a door or over the mantle for all to see.
Thanksgiving Guessing Game
  • When everyone arrives, give them three index cards. Ask them to write one blessing for which they are thankful on each of the cards. (You may need to help your grandchildren fill out the cards.) 
  • Fold the cards and place them in a bowl.
  • Ask for a volunteer to grab one of the cards and read it aloud.
  • Let everyone guess who wrote down this blessing.
  • Continue until all the cards are done or the turkey is cooked.
Thanksgiving Memory Game
  • Gather in a circle.
  • The youngest child begins the game by saying, “I am thankful for ______________.”
  • The next person in the circle says, “I am thankful for _________” and then repeats what the youngest child said.
  • The next person in the circle says, “I am thankful for _________________”  and then repeats in order the blessings that were mentioned.
Puzzle Piece Scavenger Hunt
  • Prior to Thanksgiving Day, write on index cards (one or two words per card), Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107:1). Hide these cards somewhere in the main room of your home. Consider the ages of your grandchildren as you choose the difficulty with which you hide the cards.  Note: You may want to write yourself a note listing the locations of the cards.
  • Teach your grandchildren how to play the hot-and-cold game.  Hot means they are getting close to finding a card; cold means they are walking away from a card.
  • Once the cards are found, assemble the words to form the phrase. Ask everyone to memorize this phrase. Don’t forget to include the Scripture address: Psalm 107:1.
Holiday Hospitality

Pay God’s love forward by extending the gift of hospitality. Invite someone who would otherwise be alone (single person, widow, widower) to join you and your family for your Thanksgiving celebrations.

Personal Notes

After Thanksgiving, write a note of blessing to each of the guests who attended your Thanksgiving feast. Include the reasons you give thanks to God for them.

Thanksgiving Virtual-Style
  • If miles separate you from your grandchildren this year, you may want to consider sending them a roll of butcher paper, markers and masking tape. Ask them to create a Thanksgiving Graffiti Board by writing down or drawing a picture of the things for which they are thankful on a large sheet of the butcher paper. Encourage them to cover the paper with drawing and words.
  • Have them explain the board to you during your conference call. You may want to make a graffiti board and explain it to them as well.
Final Note:

May we all celebrate a Christ-centered Thanksgiving, one that is filled with remembrances of God’s blessings. One that shouts aloud, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107:1).

 

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