At dinner each night of November, see if your family can collectively think of 10 more things you’re thankful for. Keep a running list—and consider making it into a creative decoration for Thanksgiving Day: A vase filled with your list written on slips of paper, or written artfully onto craft paper that covers the table—complete with Sharpies or crayons prompting guests to add their own.
2. Set a small, doable goal for yourself to send out a certain number of thank-you notes to people who might be a little clueless as to just how much you appreciate them. You might also consider enclosing a small gift card (think Starbucks, Amazon, iTunes) to add an exclamation point to your gratitude.
3. Drop a small note in your son, daughter, or husband’s lunch—or put a sticky note where they’ll find it at just the right time. You might say, When I think of what I’m thankful for, you always come to mind. I love you. Or, Thanks for the ways you __. I love you so much.
4. Tip the focus of your prayer life in November toward giving thanks. Consider a word study on “thanks” in the Bible, and try to spend ten minutes each day focused solely on gratitude.
6. Help younger children to put together a brief video “greeting card” for relatives far away, describing their appreciation for that person’s influence in their lives. Or, allow them to paint a butcher-paper banner to send in the mail for a special surprise.
7. On the back of an interior door, post a piece of tagboard and keep a pen attached with adhesive Velcro. Make it a family goal to fill the posterboard by Thanksgiving with the objects of your gratitude. Alternatively, utilize Ann Voskamp’s idea of covering a window with sticky notes of gratitude in this timeless, yes-yes-yes post, 15 Happy Ways to Teach Kids to be Grateful
8. I received unforgettable advice from a friend who cared faithfully for his wife until her death from ALS (Lou Gherig’s disease).Starting one night, consumed with grief over all of the loss and exquisite pain, he felt that he should quietly turn to gratitude. There, lying prone on his bed in utter sorrow, he started with the simple grace to take a breath. And it all snowballed from there. Gratitude in the midst of suffering, he explained, changes everything.
9.Attempt to comb through your days, using visual cues to help you think in new ways about gratitude (life in a developing country is like one big “Be thankful!” sticky note to me; like wearing a new pair of [gratitude] glasses to see my world). A tube of toothpaste might prompt a quick prayer of thanks for good dental care; pulling out of the driveway, for a peaceful street and quality roads; the receipt at a restaurant, for a wholesome meal and washed dishes, with the finances to pay for it.
Your turn: What are some practical steps that help turn you toward thankfulness?
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Really glad you're here. Welcome to a lingering conversation about a head-turning, life-altering, undeserved kindness. This site's about Jesus in a pair of well-worn Levi's: faith scuffing up against real life and real people.
After five and a half years in Uganda, my family and I have recently returned to the U.S., where we continue to work on behalf of the poor. I write and love on my family from Colorado.