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Put the "Thanks" Back in Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is really about thankfulness to God. Here are some great creative ways to celebrate the holiday.

The changing leaves divert out attention from the long lazy days of summer. The rich oranges, reds and yellows of autumn colour the landscape, and our thoughts turn toward Thanksgiving holidays. We look forward to the embrace of loved ones, the gentle hum of conversation punctuated with laughter and a table laden with roast turkey, stuffing, veggies and, of course, Mom's homemade pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving is a time when hearts and thoughts turn toward home.

Put the 'Thanks' Back in Thanksgiving

As you prepare for another banquet, don't neglect the most important ingredient in the holiday: Jesus Christ. Whereas Christmas and Easter usually get top billing for involving Christ in the celebration, Thanksgiving should be viewed as another opportunity to adore the Saviour.

What Christian traditions do you include in your gathering? Perhaps it's time to spend less time in the kitchen perfecting dinner and more time making Thanksgiving memories that include your faith. Try incorporating a few of these ideas in your home this season.

Autumn walk

Instead of putting another notch in your belt after enjoying too much pie, head outdoors for a stroll. Take time to experience God's magnificent creation. Enter the quiet beauty of nature. Smell the richness of the earth, hear the rustle of the trees and view the immense sky. Take a moment to express your feelings to the Creator. Worship Him with praise and thanksgiving.

Circle of thanks

Here's a way to show your appreciation for loved ones. Before dinner, write the name of your guests on pieces of holiday stationery. Pass the papers around so that everyone can write down a positive attribute about that person. When everyone is finished, roll the sheet, tie with ribbon and place the scroll next to the guest's place setting.

The gift of giving

Redirect the focus from your table to someone else's. Pray for God's direction into an area of service that is needed. Feeding and nurturing others before yourself will be a powerfully humbling experience.

  • When you invite your guests, request that they bring a donation of non-perishables to give to the local food bank.

  • Invite another family to dinner. Is there someone at church experiencing financial or physical hardships? Reach out to those around you.

  • Forgo the turkey at home and help serve up dinner at a local shelter.

For the kids

Including a craft project during Thanksgiving will give you the opportunity to share a moment of fun while teaching an important life skill. Collect leaves in various shapes and colours, seal them with Con-Tac paper and have each child write what they're thankful for on each leaf. Assemble your Tree of Thanks on the wall using construction paper for the trunk. Each year add new leaves of thanksgiving to the tree and share the ones from years gone by.

Invite royalty

Set another place at the table this Thanksgiving. Lay out your finest linen and china, add fragrant flowers and light some candles. Dress the table with the utmost attention for you will be welcoming Jesus, the King of Kings to dine with you. This is a powerful activity for adults as well as children. It encourages us to be mindful of what we say and do in the presence of God.

A story from the past

Do you know why we celebrate Thanksgiving? American and Canadian historical accounts differ, but ultimately it's a time to be truly thankful for all the blessings the Almighty has granted His nation. Pause during the celebrations to reflect on how Thanksgiving originally came into existence. 

Originally published in Faith & Friends, October 2004.




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