Sandwiched somewhere between Halloween and Christmas is a Thursday holiday that is slowly becoming more miniscule in the minds of millions of Americans – Thanksgiving. If you search hard, you might find one small section of Thanksgiving cards, autumn decorations, and a turkey platter amid the aisles and miles of Halloween costumes, Christmas decorations, and toys.
For some, Thanksgiving is a day to get a list together prior to a day of marathon Christmas shopping. Somehow our perception of Thanksgiving Day has gone askew. We've forgotten the reason for celebration that first Thanksgiving. Gratitude for survival! Historically we think of Thanksgiving as a time of feasting for the Pilgrims and Indians. In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims had been in America less than a year. During those months, over half their original population died from disease or starvation. The Pilgrims hosted the first feast not to try out their latest recipes, but to celebrate life with their Indian friends and give thanks to God for His provision in difficult circumstances.
Perhaps you'd like to redirect your family toward gratitude this year. Just as many enlist the help of an advent wreath to prepare for the celebration of Jesus' birth in December, focus on thanks-giving this November by doing the following:
Week 1 – Write Bible verses that name the attributes of God on fruit-shaped cut-outs. Place them in a basket or cornucopia. During a time of family devotions or at a meal, have each family member select a fruit from the basket and read the verse aloud. Then discuss ways your family has experienced each of God's qualities.
Week 2 – Think about reasons for ingratitude. Most of us are incredibly blessed, yet we find reasons to complain. This week, any time family members complain about something, have them place money in a jar. Your family can decide the amount. Then at the end of the week, donate the money to the soup kitchen or mobile meals to help with Thanksgiving meals.
Week 3 – Think of someone you love and appreciate, but rarely see. Make plans to call, send a card, or visit that person. Find out if there is a special need, pray with the person, and provide materially or with an act of service.
Week 4 – Focus on praising God. Let each family member select a praise chorus or hymn. Sing a different one at each meal instead of saying a blessing. Thank God for material provision, physical health, spiritual blessings, our country, our church, and family.
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