The best way we’ve found to be content with what we have is to focus on being thankful and to bless others who may need cheering up or a helping hand. Here are a few practical ways to make Thanksgiving and Christmas meaningful learning or outreach opportunities!
List “necessary people” you can bless. As a family, think through the people who are necessary for you to do life. Teachers. The mail carrier. The bank teller or grocery store clerk. Police officers and firefighters. The garbage collector. Now, have a baking day and make loaves of pumpkin bread or batches of Christmas cookies. Or even form an assembly line and bag up batches of homemade trail mix. Deliver to your necessary people with a handwritten tag thanking them for faithfully serving your family all year long.
Create a countdown calendar. Create your own countdown to Thanksgiving calendar by cutting shapes of leaves in different colors. Make one for every day from November 1 until Thanksgiving. Number them and tape them onto the refrigerator. Every day, write one thing you are thankful to God for on the leaf for that day. By Thanksgiving your refrigerator will be filled with reminders of all God has given your family.
Keep a thankfulness journal as a family. Every day, fill in something you are thankful for and why. For example, I’m thankful for my fingers so I can write. Or, my husband is thankful that we live where winters are warm so he can run. Start it on Thanksgiving Day and take turns writing in your journal as often as you can throughout the year. Make sure you date it so you can look back and remember. Or, to put a twist on this idea, write the items with permanent markers on a ready-made banner or table runner made from light-colored fabric. Display during your Thanksgiving dinner and in the years to come as a tradition.
Welcome singles. Do you know someone who might be alone on Thanksgiving or Christmas? Invite them to join your family for dinner. Offer to pick them up if driving is a challenge.
Plan an outreach project. After your holiday dinner is over, discuss as a family how you will reach out to others in the coming year. Be intentional in scheduling time to do this as a family.
Host a theme dinner. Try your hand at a colonial Christmas dinner, or another theme that suits your family—perhaps one that reminds you of a recent vacation or another favorite state or country.
With a little advanced planning, your family can make Thanksgiving about so much more than just turkey this year!