Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

3 Ways to Make Sure Your Family Doesn’t Skip the Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

3 Ways to Make Sure Your Family Doesn’t Skip the Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. We are so familiar with gathering in November for this annual holiday in North America yet are our first thoughts of football, food and a four-day weekend or faith, family and friends?

First, let’s look at what Thanksgiving means and then focus on 3 ways to make sure your family doesn’t skip or skim over the real meaning of Thanksgiving this year.

According to Google, Thanksgiving is defined as 1) an expression of gratitude especially to God and 2) (in North America) an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. This holiday commemorates a harvest festival – thus the overflowing cornucopia – celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 and is held on the fourth Thursday in November in the US and usually on the second Monday in Canada. 

The first Thanksgiving was a simple gathering of the surviving Pilgrims and the natives (it wasn’t America yet…) who helped the Pilgrims survive the bitter first winter that killed almost half of those who landed at Plymouth Rock on the Mayflower as they thanked God for the lives spared and the bounty He provided in that first harvest.

1. Gather in gratitude

Unite. Celebrate your common bond. Reconcile any differences as you renew the bonds that tie family and friends together. Gather before the Lord God Almighty with your family and friends in thanksgiving for His outpouring of love. You may want to start a new tradition.  What if each person shares 3 things they are thankful for? Being thankful for even the simple things increases our thankfulness. So start.

Remember, in every individual there is an expression of the love of God, so be thankful for each one of them – even give thanks for that ornery contrarian among you! Yes, for when we are thankful, we heal the hurts and strengthen each other and the ties that unite us.

God knows we need others – that’s why He created family and community. He even instructs us to gather in unity and agreement and that He is with us when we do.

Matthew 18:19-20 NLT
“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

2. Create a legacy of love

Share stories that include your family values with your children – and their friends. Sometimes we act as a “second” mom or dad to neighborhood children, so share.

Relate your stories to a story in the Bible. One of the best stories depicting thanksgiving in the Bible is the story of the 10 lepers Jesus cleansed yet only one of the ten was thankful and praised God. What a powerful lesson to remember to thank our Mighty God and to give glory to Him!

Luke 17:11-19 NLT
Ten Healed of Leprosy

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

3. Glorify God

We are God’s children. Just as parents teach their children to say please and thank you, we must teach our children the truth of who they are and whose they are. We are children of the Most High God, loved eternally and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. So are they. Teach them the truth of their spiritual heritage and inheritance, so they do not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Teach your family to be thankful they know God as their Heavenly Father, they worship His as Lord of their lives and that Jesus loves them.

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so

So much truth is held in the songs we learned in Vacation Bible School!

Psalm 100 is my all time favorite to teach a child because this psalm of thanksgiving starts with shout and kids love to SHOUT! So have fun teaching them to glorify God and shout with joy to the Lord!

Psalm 100 NLT
A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
   and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

What if we taught our children to literally be joyful, shouting to the Lord with joy and gladness?! Can you see your children in your mind’s eye now? The pictures rolling through my mind fill me with joy! For the Lord is good. All the time.

Oh by the way, whenever I’m stressed and want to change my focus, I challenge myself to think of 3 things I’m grateful for right then.

Gratitude: What a Powerful Attitude to Wear

Would you help me remember to put on the garment of praise and gratitude? Would you like help remembering too? If so, let’s take that one step further.

What if we teach our children to be thankful for three things every day rather than just for a season?

Would you commit to creating a powerful legacy of gratitude and love in your family that glorifies your Lord God Almighty daily?

With over 2 million airline miles under her belt, Susan B Mead shares her expert teachings on business, grief and relationships. A master storyteller, Susan leaves audiences motivated to live a life free of regrets. She has been described as a solid, comforting voice in a messy world. Whether speaking to business professionals, women’s conferences, industry leaders or writer’s workshops, Susan’s insightful wisdom inspires audiences, empowering them to make healthy mental u-turns.

Connect with Susan on her website, Facebook and Twitter where she posts the weekly DanceWithJesus linkup, scripture graphics and daily inspiration.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages