"I thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes." -e.e. cummings
Being thankful is always in season. It's not just for Thanksgiving. Remembering to say thanks is a part of good training. More than just common courtesy, expressing gratitude is critical to the development of a child's character, as they learn to appreciate the world and people around them. Take a look around you. Blessings abound - the laughter of children, the beauty of a glorious sunset, the comfort of a warm bed at night. Small and great, there are plenty of reasons for all of us to look up at Heaven and say to our Creator, "Thank you."
Throughout history, people have set aside special days for giving thanks. The Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, Chinese, Egyptians, and American Indians all held thanksgiving celebrations following bountiful harvests. Many countries around the world have a Thanksgiving Day. The date and customs vary from place to place, but the desire to reflect on life's blessings remains the same.
At this traumatic time in our nation's history [NOTE: this article was written just two months after 9-11] there are many things that we feel grieved and worried about. Nevertheless, at the same time we still have much to be thankful for. This Thanksgiving, it will be more important than ever to count our blessings and to be thankful for this great country in which we live.
The Thanksgiving holiday is a good opportunity to help your children reflect on what they are grateful for. As your family sits down to a meal together, have everyone take turns mentioning something for which they are thankful. How many times can you go around the table in this way? If your children have trouble thinking of something, just ask them to imagine things disappearing from the room, one at a time, never to return. Picturing what life would be like without certain things may inspire a renewed appreciation for what they have.
This week's "Not Just For Kids" page (11/21/2001) features some Thanksgiving writings that were sent in by local homeschoolers. They point out that there are many things to be thankful for, from the most significant to the simplest things in life:
"I am thankful for all the fun field trips I get to go on. I am also thankful that I am able to be taught by my mom at home. I am thankful that I have a friend that now homeschools." -Melissa Maynard, 10
"I am thankful that God has blessed me with such wonderful parents. They have sacrificed careers and having more stuff so that they can homeschool me. I am thankful for my two sisters, as well." -Hannah Maynard, 13
"I am thankful that I serve a God that never leaves me, nor forsakes me! He is always with me. I am thankful that I can have a very real and personal relationship with Him. I know that He loves me unconditionally, and even though I may let him down, he never lets me down. I am thankful that I can put ALL my trust in Him! I am so thankful that I can cast all my worries, and heavy burdens upon Him." -Kelly Maynard
"I'm really really thankful for God because he is powerful and mighty. He heals you and me. He answers prayer. He loves us very much." -Kiah Borman, 6
"I'm thankful for God. I'm thankful for family. I'm thankful for my friend Caleb." -Jon Olsen, 6
"I am thankful for my parents, my brothers, my friends, my grandparents, my home, my toys, my computer, the earth, sun, rain, food, America, freedom, health, life, and Jesus." -Peter Olsen, 11
"I am thankful for Jesus because he died for our sins so we can go to heaven. I'm thankful for my Mom and Dad because without them I would not be here. I am thankful for our freedom because I like making my own choices. I am thankful for my house because I don't have to sleep on the ground. I am thankful for my friends because they help me get through hard times. I am thankful for my pets because I like to play with them and I like to ride my horse." -Sarah Bostdorff, 10
"I am thankful for land because now we have more room to move around. I am thankful for my privacy because we were always being watched by the King and Queen before our freedom. I am also thankful for privileges because we now have many more than before." -Lucas Bostdorff, 8
"I am thankful for our own religion because we can pick if we want to be Christian or Jewish and we no longer have a King or Queen telling us what religion we have to be. I am also thankful for the people that died just so we could have our freedom. I am thankful for my Mom, dad, sister, brothers, grandparents and my cousins because they comfort me when I am sad and tell me it's okay when I am scared." -Jennifer Fallon, 10
"Losing teeth, family, Dash (dog), teddy bears." -Rebekah Helm, 7
"My home, Mommy, Daddy, sisters, God." -Abigail Helm, 4
"Friends, God listens to and answers prayers, a home (so we can live inside)." -Cayna Helm, 4
"Toys, Pugsy (dog), Mommy and Daddy, our house." -Deanna Bailey, 4
"There are many things to be thankful for,
"I am thankful for my family because my brother helps me do things that I like to do, my sister is really funny and she helps me with my writing, my parents allowed me to be born, my dad works so that we can have things like our computer. I am thankful to God because he made us. I am thankful for my dog because she listens to me. I am thankful for my goldfish because he entertains me when swims around in his bowl. I am thankful for my Grandma because she had my mother. I am thankful for Adam and Eve because they are why I have my parents. I am thankful for trees that give wood so we can have our house. I am thankful for clocks that tell what time it is and time is very important." -Caleb Taylor, 6
"This year a lot of things happened to me. Most of them were good things. There was one event that keeps coming to my mind. That was the day we moved to New River. Since we moved out of town I now can do all the activities that I have wanted to do all of my life. The two things that I never could've done in town are ride horses and have my own business. Those are the things that I am most thankful for this year." -Jacob Taylor, 13
Talent is a gift from God.
In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, here are ten more suggestions of things to be thankful for that you may not have considered:
1. The job I have to go to every day…because it means I'm earning a living.
This Thanksgiving, I hope you will pause to give thanks for all of these things and more. Don't forget to include in your Thanksgiving prayers all those men and women in uniform who are stationed around the world. They will be spending the Thanksgiving holiday away from home - many in places that are hostile to an American presence - in order to defend the freedoms that we so often take for granted. Finally, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God…will guard your hearts and minds." (Philippians 4:6-7) Happy Thanksgiving!
America the Beautiful
By Katharine Lee Bates
O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,
THANKSLIVING TREASURES: Devotions on God's Provision for the Pilgrims…and for Us, by Leslie J. Barner. (This creative resource includes stories of the Pilgrims' journey along with discussion questions and activities to help children and adults grow in gratitude. It contains a 56-page booklet, symbolic objects, postcard-sized reproductions of historical paintings and The Mayflower Compact, all in a keepsake treasure box. For more info, links, recipes, activities and outreach ideas, go to www.thankslivingtreasures.com.) (Sadly, it looks like this product has been discontinued. What a shame! Try searching Google or Ebay to see if you can find one.)
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