Some of my favorite girlhood memories revolve around holidays like Thanksgiving. My mom always woke well before the sun on Thanksgiving morning. She prepared the turkey and slid it into the oven to slow cook all day long. By 2:00 in the afternoon, the aroma of the roasting bird made my mouth water! My parents always invited friends and family to join us around our makeshift table. Food and laughter were plentiful.
Those memories will always stay with me.
Now that I’m a mother, I want holidays to be memorable and meaningful for our children. We usually spend Thanksgiving evening with extended family. But, we keep the mornings for the four of us.
We make our once-a-year breakfast pizza. Pretty plates and sparkling glasses decorate the table for our morning meal. Laughter circles our table as we eat.
When I set the table on Thanksgiving morning, I place five kernels of popcorn at each place. Those five kernels remind us of how much the pilgrims got to eat each day during one of their first winters in this new land.
Five kernels of corn.
After we thank God for our food, we read the entries from past years in our Thanksgiving Journal. Through the course of our breakfast, we go around the table, share what we are thankful for from the current year and add it to the journal. As we share one thing we’re thankful for, we move a kernel of corn to the middle of the table.
The inaugural year for this tradition was 2007. One boy was thankful for “the clouds that gave rain and flowers that got drinks,” among other things. The other boy was thankful for dinosaurs, because they ate bugs. Yes, I hid a smile at that one.
As they have matured, so have their “thankful” entries. Last year, one son was thankful for “the Bible, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit,” and also for “adventure, because it’s fun.” The other son included being “thankful for Jesus that He came and died for my sins.” As well as being “thankful that God made me come into this world so that I may one day live with Jesus in heaven.”
This may be a small way of teaching our children gratitude, but we hope and pray that it will nurture thankfulness in their hearts.
I know it has in mine.
What about you? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? How have you fostered a spirit of gratitude?