Here in the UK, our family (my husband and three of my children) have had to re-think what we do on Thanksgiving. Sadly, we don’t get together with the rest of my family as they are all in the states. Macy’s parade is not available on TV here either. We do have our big Turkey/Vegetarian dinner though. To prevent a backache from standing all that time in the kitchen, I baste the turkey in white wine and butter and always make sure there is an extra bottle of wine for me to drink while I cook…..that’s just my medicinal method….it works for me.
When it comes to the days leading up to Thanksgiving, many of us prepare by looking up recipes and table decorations. How many of us prepare our hearts? If one of your Thanksgiving traditions has been to sit around the table each taking it in turn to state what you are thankful for, you may find that there is some vague or general comment (I’m thankful for this food, the roof over our heads, my job…ho-hum) or sometimes there may be an awkward silence. So often we get by each day making small complaints to each other about what went wrong and never giving thought as to what went right. There is a wonderful children’s storybook that my daughter Brittany had when she was little called, Christy’s Pouting Again.
Though not a great title, the story cleverly taught the lesson about how important it was to, ‘Think about what is and not what isn’t!’ Whenever Brittany or I caught each other grumbling about something we would remind each other by saying, “Don’t think about what isn’t, think about what is!” There is always something that IS the story taught us. Blessings come in all sizes. Sometimes we are blessed by others, sometimes we bless ourselves. Sometimes we have to look with more than our eyes to see our blessings. Here are some ways to help you and your family prepare your hearts for Thanksgiving:
- Have each family member write down a list of three things they are thankful for every day from now to Thanksgiving and then all share with each other what you have written. Encourage them to think of anything (or anyone) that makes them smile, laugh or sigh with contentment.
- Make a Thanksgiving tree. You can use construction paper to build trunk and branches on the wall. Make individual leaves using construction paper in different autumnal colours and place in a bowl or tray near your tree. From now till Thanksgiving have every family member and visitor to your home write on a leaf what they are thankful for and sign the back of it and put it on the tree. On Thanksgiving read out what is written on each leaf. I did this a couple of times when my children were young and it made the occasion really memorable.
- Help those who are less fortunate by donating food to your local food bank or praying as a family or donating time by volunteering. Consider inviting someone over for Thanksgiving who is needy.
- On Thanksgiving, think of someone we are especially thankful for this year and call them on the telephone to let them know you are thankful for them.
- (Especially for ex-pats living in another country) Visit your neighbours bringing them home baked goodies American style such as a slice of pumpkin pie or American candy.
- Visit the grave of a loved one who has passed that you were thankful for when they were alive. Or if that’s not possible, on Thanksgiving light a candle and share with everyone why you are thankful for this person. You could have a photo of them by the candle if you wish.
- After the big meal, if there is still enough daylight, go out for a family autumnal walk. Take the time to notice the beautiful changing colours and how thankful we are for our God who made so much beauty to delight our eyes.
- There are so many things that we can all be thankful for every day. If we take the time to notice them and even write them down, our appreciation for things great and small will grow.