Practicing Thanks

The fall is my very favorite season for many reasons.  

The area we live in is extremely hot in the summer.  I mean burning hot.  And many days bring with them lots of wind.  Like a hot hair dryer right in your face.  All day long.  I’ll confess this makes me crabby and lazy.  So the cooler temperatures of fall are always a welcome change of pace for me and my family.  

The fall brings with it two of my favorite holidays.  Halloween and Thanksgiving.  I love participating in the playful and childish side of Halloween, adorning my house with pumpkins, scarecrows, and the scent of warm apple pie, and spending time with family and friends at various gatherings throughout the season.  

 

And the decorating.  Oh how I love the decorating.  I’d bring my fall decor out on September 1 but my husband just can’t enjoy it when the temperatures are still in the high 90s!  Thankfully, even though I promise every year not to bring my fall decorations out until October 1, most of them can remain on display for at least two whole months so we really get to enjoy them.

Two of my three children were born in the fall.  

One in October (my pumpkin).  

And one in November (my turkey).

Our State Fair is held in the fall.

I love the fall because the changing colors of the leaves are beautiful.  When I was on my morning walk with our youngest early this week, I saw this.

  

It took my breath away.

And the piñon wood.  The smell of it burning in our chiminea brings a flood of memories back to my mind from years past.

But what I love most about November in particular is that it provides us an opportunity to center our hearts and minds and to give thanks to God in a more focused way.  Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday.  And during the month of November, as a family, we try to make a more concerted effort to give our thanks.   

Psalm 106:1 says:

“Praise The Lord.  Give thanks to The Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

We want our kids to have hearts of gratitude.  We want them to be thankful to God for all of the blessings in their lives.  They have so much to be thankful for.

We also want them to learn how to be content in all circumstances.  Because, let’s face it.  Life is hard.  It’s also unfair.  And our kids will face countless challenges along the way.

One of the ways that we focus on thankfulness and contentment as a family is by doing a Thanksgiving tree together.  We start it on November 1, and we work on it all month long.  

There are a variety of “takes” on the Thanksgiving tree, but we do ours as follows because I’m short on crafting skills, and I found this to be easy:

1.  I purchased 6 stems of fall foliage from the craft store.

2.  I used floral rocks and a clear glass vase that I had on hand.

3.  We placed the leaves into the vase and added some other limbs that we found around the yard to give it a more organic look.

4.  With festive scrapbook paper, we cut out ovals and circles in various shapes and sizes using handy tools from my days as a Creative Memories Scrapbooker (that went out the window the day baby #1 entered the world).

5.  We punched holes in the top of each shape and strung raffia through them.

 

Then, each day, we try to spend time as a family sharing things we’re thankful for on that particular day.  We write each of them on one of the “ornaments,” and we hang them from the tree.  Then we say a prayer of thanksgiving for each of those blessings.

We try to do a few each day, and by the end of the month, we have a beautiful tree, filled with color and filled with reminders of many of our blessings.  Our kids love it.  So do we.

Today, I thanked God for the freedom I have to pray, for the blessing of a Saturday of fellowship with some of the women in my new church family (more on that later), for my wonderful husband who shows God’s love and grace to me daily, and for my three beautiful, healthy children.

What are you thankful for today?  How do you practice “thanksgiving”? 

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10 thoughts on “Practicing Thanks

  1. I too love decorating for fall, and the fact that it can linger for two months. Your Thankful Tree is a fantastic way to make the concept of gratitude more salient for kids. I may just snag this idea when the quads are old enough to participate. In the meantime, we’ll have to do some thanksgiving craft using their cute little hands and feet.

    • Your baby hands and feet crafts are awesome! I am green with envy over your crafting abilities! Maybe you can incorporate some of your own words of thankfulness for each child on their art work. There are also some really good books out there regarding thankfulness for babies. Squirrel Says Thank You (if you don’t have this set of books about virtues by Mary Manz Simon you should get them), I’m Thankful Each Day, and Let’s Be Thankful to name a few. We have all of these, and my kids loved them! We also spent lots of time talking to our babies about thankfulness. We taught them to sign it. And we bought Madame Blueberry (Veggie Tales), which is a great video on a thankful heart (and it has a great song about thankfulness included). All great foundations for training in thankfulness.

      • We don’t have any of the books you mentioned, but I pulled quite a few about thankfulness out. One was actually a gift from you. They sign please pretty well, we’re still working on thank you.
        At what age did your kids start enjoying veggie tales? We haven’t tried any yet because they seem a little advanced just yet. It is a great series though.

      • Veggie Tales is still a little to advanced for them in my opinion. That one became popular at our house at about 2 1/2. The 30 minute videos that focus on a particular character trait (Madame Blueberry, Lyle the Kindly Viking, etc.) are the ones you should start with. As they approach Pre-K, they will enjoy the feature length movies. Great family fun!

  2. Thanksgiving tree…what a terrific idea! I bet you save all the “leaves” through the years, they’re so precious. What am I thankful for? Everything! My last prayer of the day is when I’m almost asleep…”Dear Father…thank you for a great day.”…because every day in my life is great.

  3. I swore I was going to start a Thanksgiving tree this year… then we sold our house! But we do list 3 things we’re thankful for every night before bed. Hayes’ are typically really silly right now, but Reese’s are increasingly thoughtful and give me great insight into her sweet heart! Last night she was thankful for Dr. V who is going to help her start sleeping good again, a day alone with mommy and a beautiful bed to cuddle in!
    A thankful heart is a happy heart:)

    • Lindsay, I love “3 things we’re thankful for”! We do it all the time! Today, I spiced it up with our kids on the way to school to help them think outside of the box. Instead of asking them about 3 things in general, I asked them to think of 3 things they were thankful for about school. The possibilities are endless! At dinner, we often do 3 things about the person to your left so we can kill two birds with one stone, being thankful and encouraging all at the same time! And sister…this season, too, shall pass for you! Thanksgiving tree next year. They’ll be the perfect age!

  4. Pingback: Teaching Toddlers Thankfulness | Four to Adore

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