A spirit of gratitude in a family brings its members closer together and is a valuable quality to instill in children early in life.
Family Activity for Giving Thanks
A beautiful, gratitude-inspiring tradition can begin on the first of November. Decorate a jar or vase is put in a prominent place in the home. Slips of paper with the words “I am thankful for:” printed at the top are positioned beside it along with a pencil or two. Throughout the weeks approaching Thanksgiving, family members are encouraged to privately record what they are thankful for and sign the bottom. These notes can consist of one word or a phrase – no rules here. Smaller children can either get the help of a parent or older sibling or even draw a picture of what they are thankful for. Family members can add to the collection whenever they feel inspired and there is no limit to how many each person can contribute. Depending on the family, the Gratitude Jar may need a lid so that the notes stay secret until they are read on Thanksgiving Day (some kids and parents are peekers!)
Thanksgiving Meal Prayer
On Thanksgiving Day, gathered around the dinner table, the family opens the jar and reads the many blessings that have been recorded over the last few weeks. Reading the blessings can be included in the meal prayer:
“Loving God, we are aware of how much our family is blessed with love and riches of all kinds. We would like to name them now.” At this point the jar is opened and the gratitude slips are read. Parents can read them or that task can be shared among family members. When all the slips have been read, the prayer leader can conclude by saying: “For all these things and for this wonderful meal, we give You thanks and praise. Amen.”
Decorating the Gratitude Jar
Decorating the Gratitude Jar can be an additional activity for family fun. Pictures or words from magazines can be cut out and glued on the jar in a collage fashion. Skilled or novice scrap-bookers can use the wealth of craft materials for this activity as well. Older kids can participate by creating the slips of paper used in the activity. They can be printed on the computer and decorated as well. Later, these expressions of gratitude make wonderful memorabilia and keepsakes.
Using the Gratitude Jar gives parents an opportunity to point out many things children can be grateful for- doing well on a test, making a new friend, the family dog, a sunny day to play… It can also be used any time of year not just in November. It is great to pull out when the family needs a little boost in remembering its blessings!