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Twenty Thankful Ideas

Being thankful is an attitude you cultivate year after year. This year, I was in ICU near the Thanksgiving holiday. On the day I woke up, I was on a ventilator, so my only means to communicate was to write on a white board nestled on my lap. After I would write a request, I would always add, “Thx!” As the nurses and doctors ministered to me, I always wrote, “Thx!” One nurse began to cry. She said, “People rarely tell us “Thank you.”  I was shocked. The doctors and nurses are heroes, saving lives. They deserve a big “Thank you!”

I recently found a greeting card that I made for the first craft fair our women’s ministry held my first year as Women’s Ministry Director at the church my husband pastored. The card was at least 30 years old! This predates all social media and most of the internet! (It also is some of my first writing BEFORE we wrote any of our 58 books!) Inside was a list of Twenty Thankful Ideas. I have included it below, as thankfulness never goes out of date, and the practice of gratitude should be cultivated daily.

…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thes. 5:18)

Practice Thankfulness

  1. Make an ABC list of things you are thankful for. This is a great filler if you have a long car trip with family.
  2. Write a poem to express your love and gratitude to God.
  3. Have your children rewrite the pilgrim story and include themselves as characters. What would they have been thankful for back then? What things have changed since then that they are thankful for (like running water, telephones, TV, bathrooms, etc.)
  4. As a family, create a collage for the front door by cutting out pictures of things you appreciate from old magazines or catalogs. Or, if you are really artsy, draw or paint a picture of what you are thankful for and give it away to a guest at the end of your Thanksgiving meal.
  5. Make a bookmark for you or your children. Beautiful fall leaves and dried flowers can be saved by sandwiching between waxed paper and pressed over with a cloth between the paper and iron.
  6. Flip through the family photo album. Say a prayer of thanks for special people or memories.
  7. Reread your diary or devotional journal. Mark the days that were special, share the days that were special, share the growth seen or moments remembered with a friend, spouse, children or grandchildren.
  8. Take a prayer walk. Thank God for the things you see in creation.
  9. Get a start on next Thanksgiving. Make a Thankful jar. Each time something special happens, or there is an answered prayer, jot it down. Next year, read aloud as a family all the great things God has done. The jar can simply be a covered coffee can or oatmeal box.
  10. Start a scrapbook. Keep special mementos, photos or letters. Review it with loved ones early in the day to set a Thankful attitude for the holiday.
  11. Go to church. Many churches have special services on Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving eve. If no churches in your area are hosting a service, try Christian radio. some play special praise or worship segments on Thanksgiving. (Now, you also have You Tube, Vimeo, Facebook and IG reels!)
  12.  Make place cards. Write a special message on each card. Vicke Chambers and Spring Asher in their book, American Holidays, suggest you make up funny hints so guests have to guess where they will be seated.
  13. Speaker, Emilie Barnes, in her holiday seminar, suggests you place a candle at each place setting and tell each guest why you love them as you light their candle (Note: Our family has been doing a holiday blessing each year for nearly 4 decades. This is a life-giving and affirming tradition that builds confidence, character and strength into your children and grandchildren)
  14. Grab a permapen and decorate inexpensive plates or glasses so each person knows why you value and appreciate him or her.
  15. Send a special note to those special people that helped you grow in Christ in the last year. If your children don’t write yet,  give your loved ones a thank you phone call early in the day before all the circuits get busy (Okay, this one if hilarious now in the era of everyone owning a smart cell phone!)
  16. Fill a cornucopia or other harvest basket with goodies for an elderly neighbor or shut in and deliver with a smile. Plan to stay a few minutes to chat.
  17. Visit a hospital or nursing home. Sing, play an instrument, play a game of checkers, or simply hold a hand and listen.
  18. Help feed the homeless at your local rescue mission.
  19. Talk about each person’s favorite Thanksgiving. This can be especially entertaining if you’ve invited older relatives, foreign exchange students, displaced military, or a missionary kid state-side for college. (A diverse guest list will add zest–and sometimes new foods too!)
  20. Join hands, sing to Doxology or another familiar hymn. Ask each person to say a simple one line prayer of thanks as you squeeze hands around the table.  (Bonus idea. Set a small cup of candy corn at each plate, and each person lists off things they are thankful for, one per candy)

Happy Thanksgiving! 

And on that day you will say, “Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted.” Praise the LORD in song, for He has done glorious things; let this be known throughout the earth. (Is 12:4-5)

Note: I am grateful I have grown as a writer, and now use a Thesaurus! Sorry for the overuse of “special” in this blog! Enjoy a “distinct, unique, matchless, precious, cherished, beloved, treasured, momentous, smashing, exceptional, and extraordinary” Thanksgiving holiday!

Pam Farrel originally wrote this list of Thanksgiving ideas when her children were preschoolers. Now they are married with children of their own. Bill and Pam Farrel are authors of 58 books including their block-buster bestseller, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti (which they are grateful for as it is now translated into 15+ languages and has sold nearly 350,000 in English.) Pam’s newest book is Discovering Good News in John: A Creative Bible Study Experience (co-authored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher) The Farrels make their home on a live aboard boat docked in Southern California.

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