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November is the perfect month to focus on developing the attitude of gratitude in both yourself and your children. Having a month of gratitude will – hopefully – teach our children (and maybe ourselves) more about living a less-entitled, less-materialistic life.
Gratitude, especially for young children, may begin with a focus on material things, such as food, clothing, a bed to sleep in, and the ever-present media. But once the top layer is scratched, the focus will quickly turn to more meaningful blessings, like family, the ability to read, the Bible, school, or church.
Dedicating 30 complete days to focus on being thankful may present you and your children a bit of a challenge. We quickly exhaust the near-circle blessings (home, family, church, teachers), and may start scratching our heads. Try thinking of modern conveniences, personal gifts, or goals you’re working towards. Or how about hobbies you enjoy, things you’d miss if you didn’t have them, and talents you’ve developed. Think broadly.
Ideas for a Month of Gratitude
Post something you’re thankful for every day on social media. Use your preferred site, and post from November 1 to 30 – don’t stop with Thanksgiving.
Create a construction paper tree and tape construction paper leaves to it. Each leaf should have one item you or the family is thankful for that day. One each day from each member of the family (if your family is small enough) or one from the entire family every day. When you’re done, you’ll have a wonderful record of thankfulness. You could collect the leaves from year to year, to see how gratitude grows and changes with age.
Drag a large branch into the house and hang construction paper leaves or other shapes with thankful lists on them. Or put up your Christmas tree on November 1st, and decorate it with labeled autumn shapes (leaves, pumpkins, apples, corn sheaf, hay bale, and so on).
Post thankfulness quotes and verses around the house for everyone to read and contemplate.
Buy some thank you cards (I love these!) and write one out every day in November, expressing thankfulness to and for all the important people in your life: parents, grandparents, pastors, friends, parents of your children’s friends, teachers, coaches, and anyone else for whom you’re grateful (Dental hygienist? Midwife? Daycare staff? Be creative).
Do a study on thankfulness in the month of November. While you’re at it memorize four thankfulness verses – one for each week.
Begin keeping a thankfulness journal – recording one thing every day for which you are thankful before going to bed that day. Finish the month of November and challenge yourself to keep going through December. Or even longer.
Share “Three Blessings” at Thanksgiving dinner. Each person receives three small items (seeds, acorns, pennies, or paper clips). For each item, each person shares one thing for which they are thankful from the previous year. Alternately, give each person only one item.
Start a blessings book. Keep a journal that is completed with your “Three Blessings” shared at Thanksgiving dinner for everyone in attendance. Keep the same journal from year to year and you will create a family treasure.
Purchase a white or cream-colored tablecloth, hand out fabric markers, and have each person at Thanksgiving dinner write one item for which they are grateful. Use the same tablecloth year after year, dating all entries. When full, start with a new tablecloth but be sure to keep the old one and drag it out each year for memory’s sake.
Some families celebrate gratitude by gift giving at Thanksgiving instead of Christmas. The idea is to keep the focus on Jesus at Christmas and teach gratitude for gifts by tying the gift to the tradition of thanks.
Investigate picture books with themes of thanksgiving or gratitude. Read one each day, every other day, or only on Thursdays ending with Thanksgiving Day, throughout the month of November. Be sure to carry on the tradition with a picture book a day about Christmas during December.
What new tradition will you start this year?