As a family with young kids, we constantly strive to instill thankfulness, throughout the year but specifically around Thanksgiving.
The good news for you, and my family, is that I married a brilliant lady, a teacher by trade and fun person by lifestyle. Years ago she found the book, “Thanksgiving, A Time to Remember”, and set up a lesson plan around it. Each night of Thanksgiving week, we read a section, followed by acting it out. The lesson finishes on Thanksgiving, with a final reading and an activity centered on thankfulness, or gratitude.
This great book teaches about the history of the settlers, their faith, and their rocky start with the native people. It is even arranged for different age groups, so you can read/teach older kids or younger or both. The book ends with a Thanksgiving feast, food of all kinds and types; breads, vegetables, meat and desserts!
The gratitude activity is actually based on remembering the year before; the faith to succeed and the scarcity of resources.
Food was so scarce the year before, that in order to make it through the cold winter, settlers were each rationed a few kernels of corn daily. Daily. In remembrance of that tough winter, each of the settlers takes 5 kernels of corn and shares what they are grateful for.
We mimic this activity in our family.
Wherever we are and whoever we are with, we each get five kernels and a fancy sheet of paper. Everyone then writes down and shares five things that they are thankful for. We share our gratitude for what God had done for us and our love for each other. There is also the random mention of Star Wars or Pokémon, but Jesus is well represented. A cup is passed around; as you share your items, you put in your kernels one at a time.
In a time of celebration, our family is reminded that the pies, the food, the football and the naps are not the most important part of this holiday. Rather, these things are an intentional celebration of those things we are thankful for throughout the year.
Your family may have its own traditions that focus on gratitude and thankfulness. Or maybe you don’t and it’s time to start one. Either way, make time to be intentional with your family, and create opportunities to share what is important, what this season is about. This is a great lesson to start the holiday season. They may blow you off at the beginning, but they will see the benefits. May you and yours be gratefully blessed this Thanksgiving season!
Paul (aka Mr. Brouse to kids at MCC) is MCC's Children's Ministry leader, husband to Mindy Brouse and the father of 7.