Traditions of gratitude

Lately I've been contemplating how to make Christmas meaningful and I sort of skipped over Thanksgiving. Hard to believe, since I generally celebrate it twice (once for Canada and once for the States).

Gratitude is a certainly a character quality I want to instill in my son (and myself). Thanksgiving traditions should help me be purposeful about doing so. Here are a couple ideas I've run across in the last little while:
  • Decorate a small box, jar, or similar container (or just purchase a pretty one). Throughout the year, when God's blessings are especially evident, write notes of thankfulness on slips of paper and drop them in the container. On Thanksgiving Day, open the container and read all of the blessings, big and small, that you might have otherwise forgotten: recovery from an illness, a conflict resolved, an extra-special treat, a lovely spring day.

  • Use a countdown calendar to generate excitement about the special day and learn more about gratitude. Every day leading up to Thanksgiving, write down one thing about which to be grateful, and stick it in the calendar. Gather the notes of appreciation and save them in a scrapbook or box for future years, or simply read them all on Thanksgiving Day.

    You can purchase such a calendar, or decorate your own using a pre-designed one. Here's a downloadable one for kids that you could adapt for such a project.You could even make your own. Ideas include making it from a placemat or in the shape of a tree with leaves. Or, you could simply use sticky notes to affix tidbits of appreciation to the square representing each day on a regular calendar.
I'd love to hear your Thanksgiving traditions, too—both the meaningful and the just-for-fun ones.

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