We have so many things to be thankful for, even in this year that’s been so different. Especially in a year like this one, it can be particularly encouraging to focus on our blessings. Encouraging children at a young age—at any age!—to focus on their blessings is a practice that will serve them well throughout adulthood as they learn to be grateful for things both large and small.
This year is the perfect time to start a family Thanksgiving journal—a keepsake that you can continue to add to every Thanksgiving.
Then, each year, at any time, you can pull it from the shelf and be reminded of the blessings each family member listed.
Choose a Journal
It doesn’t matter what it looks like or how it is arranged, just so long as it works for your family. For my family’s gratitude journal, I chose a pumpkin-colored lined notebook and added a “Give Thanks” sticker on the front. You could choose a spiral notebook or print out pages with prompts and store them in a three-ring binder or glue them into a scrapbook. Choose a journal method that’s both easy and inspiring.
These are printable pages, not in a journal, although you could take these ideas and translate them into your own version of a family Thanksgiving journal.
Choose your Gratitude Prompts
Each Thanksgiving morning, in between cooking and table setting, I open to a fresh page in our journal and label it with the date. Then each of our family of eight writes their name and age (even me!) on a new line in the journal and five things for which they are thankful. Mine always include, at a minimum, my godly husband, my children, our freedom to homeschool, and faith. I’ll combine some of them, such as husband and children, so that I can list as many areas of gratitude within my five points.
When the children are young, I supervise their handwriting or help them spell words (it’s a learning opportunity on Thanksgiving Day), but I also give them plenty of latitude for their gratitude. Some of our past entries include the following:
I’m thankful for all our books, written in a ten-year-old’s careful cursive.
I’m thankful for such good sisters and brothers, in a third-grader’s printing.
Warm beds, just the phrase in the youngest boy’s scrawl.
This is a terrific opportunity to encourage your children to list as many things as they can for which they are thankful! Nothing is too small for gratitude.
If you print pages for your journal, then your prompts are already on the printables.
Cherish Your Memento
Then, the next year, begin with reading through the previous years’ thanks before your family adds to the list. You’ll have created a memento to cherish, a legacy of thankfulness to pass down through the generations. Your children may even be inspired to start their own Thanksgiving journals with their families one day.
If you want something different, try some of these other ideas, such as a card of prompts at each person’s place setting or writing your items of gratitude on an Appreciation Tablecloth.
As we count our blessings and name them one by one in a journal to which we can return year after year, an attitude of gratitude grows and flourishes.
The IAHE is praying for a blessed Thanksgiving for your family!