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Thanksgiving is upon me, and I’m getting pumped up for my cooking and baking extravaganza. I love Thanksgiving dinner: roasting the turkey, cooking all the favorite casseroles, making pies; my favorite part is setting a pretty dining room table with a nice centerpiece, all the family china, and the heirloom serving dishes. I love feeding everyone, and fortunately, they love eating! Autumn and Winter have always been my favorite seasons. As a natural homebody, I love the inherent coziness of warm clothes, hot drinks, and staying home curled up with books and games. I even like how early it gets dark! My husband doesn’t necessarily agree with me entirely, but I’m working on him, even if his idea of the perfect Thanksgiving is spending it at the beach. But the most important thing about Thanksgiving is in the name: Thanks. This is a season of thankfulness, which became our family’s keyword for the month of November this year. We have spent everyday talking and singing about thankfulness, and what it means to be thankful. “Thankful…to God!” as my two year old has been loudly and excitedly shouting for the last week. When I was younger, I used to hate how early our culture starts pushing Christmas, even before Thanksgiving. (Matt’s note: a lot of places are even pushing Christmas as early as September now!) It drove me crazy, and with good reason. The commercialization of Christmas is loud, tacky, and obnoxious. All the music, colors, television specials, and decorations actually detracts from the feeling they’re meant to convey. It’s overstimulating, and for Christians it can distract us from the faith basis of Advent. However, I was on staff at a church for four years, and preparation for Advent begins in November. I got in the habit of spending November with Advent projects such as inventorying and checking decorations, ordering supplies, designing advertisements for events, and writing for the kids. Because of this, I started becoming less bothered by all the early Christmas hype, and it changed my outlook on Thanksgiving as well. Thanksgiving is a wonderful season to usher in Advent. Focusing on all you personally have to be thankful for is a wonderful way to transition into reminding yourself of the greatest gift God gave the entire world. Even though I’m home now, and don’t have to do so, I’ve decided to retain the practice of a November Advent project. It prepares me for both Thanksgiving and Advent, and keeps me mindful of what I should be focusing on teaching my children. This year, its a writing project, but I’ll be writing more about that later. For the next week we’ll be singing songs about thankfulness, doing crafts to help reinforce thankfulness, and eating a LOT of yummy food. And I’m hoping to transition into a fun and fulfilling Advent season. Here’s a couple suggestions of ways to help little kids to discuss thankfulness this season:
  1. Prioritize thankfulness in family prayer time. We sang “God Our Father” before each meal this month. (Do this at bedtime prayer time too) The lyrics go:

“God our Father, God our Father We give thanks, we give thanks, Thank you for our blessings, Thank you for our Blessings. Amen, Amen”

  1. What is Thanksgiving without hand-print turkeys! I’ve been doing these with Player 3 since he was a baby at our church’s Baby and Toddler club. As your child decorates their turkey, help them think of a list of things they are thankful for, and write them on the sheet with their turkey. Save this for next year to see how they’ve grown. (I scan things like this for a digital copy, in case things get lost or destroyed)
I’d love to hear some other ideas about how to teach thankfulness to little ones! And if you have some fun Advent activities you’d like to share, please do so as well! You better bet those are on their way!