With the hustle and bustle of celebrating with great food and with preparing for the holidays, opportunities to help instill feelings of thanks and gratitude abound. Focusing this month by expressing appreciation and on giving service, our family members may truly feel the spirit of Thanksgiving in their hearts.
Here are 10 great ways to celebrate the month of Thanksgiving:
1. Write letters of appreciation. Get the family together for a letter-writing session. You could write to those serving in the military, those serving in public office, community volunteers, favorite teachers or anyone who you are grateful for in you life. Make the letters more meaningful by specifying what it is that you really appreciate about them.
2. Find someone in need and help them out. Is there an elderly individual who needs help with removing snow from her sidewalk? How about giving someone a lift to run errands? Maybe your family could visit someone who lives alone? In my area, many elderly individuals need help with just the small tasks. They are very grateful for good neighbors who look in on them and who help them out. Ask around to find out who may be in need of your assistance.
3. Invite someone over for dinner. Is there a new family who moved into your neighborhood? Is there an individual who lives alone, seemingly without any family nearby? Inviting people over for dinner is a great way to build friendships and to gain a feeling of appreciation for what you already have. The meal does not have to be fancy or extravagant. After all, the most delicious part of dinner is the company with whom you are enjoying it with.
4. Serve food at a local shelter.Many local shelters need volunteers. Opportunities to serve meals abound, especially during the holiday season. Check your local shelters for ways that you may help. It may be a one-time occasion, or, if you really enjoy it, perhaps you could volunteer year round.
5. Make a meal for a friend. As the holidays draw near, families get busier. Making a meal for someone who is in the midst of holiday busyness may be just the relief that he or she needs for one day. Weekdays are typically busier days since children are still in school and adults are usually working. It doesn’t have to be a whole meal…sometimes you could just drop off a main dish to “add” to their meal. Most families are grateful for a break by having to make one less dish for the evening.
6. Have a family thanks week. Get the whole family together. Put everyone’s name in a bag. Then have them draw a name. (They need to redraw if they pulled their own name.) Keep all names that were chosen a secret. For the whole week, each family member needs to find one way each day to anonymously express appreciation for that family member. (Ex. Leave a note on the bed, recognizing someone who washed the dishes; Drop a note in a bag, mentioning one great quality about that individual.) Get creative. This is a fun way to help build family unity by helping them to focus on appreciating each other.
7. Collect food for the local food bank. For the entire month, pick up a few extra canned goods at every grocery stop. Have your children talk to the neighbors and to your friends to ask for donations. This will help your children gain confidence in approaching others and they will gain a greater appreciation at the realization that they are helping those who don’t have the necessity of food.
8. Bake for a family.Choose a favorite recipe and get together as a family to bake it. Perhaps there’s a recipe your grandmother used to make. While baking, you could tell your children about great memories this recipe conjures up in you. While reminiscing about past memories, you will help create memories for your children to share with their children. Go together as a family to drop off your baked goods to a chosen family.
9. Visit residents at a care home or in a hospital. Many people who are in care homes are grateful for visits from people. Residents don’t often get a chance to get out in public and they are very grateful when the public comes to them. They often especially enjoy children who come to visit. A visit like this will build compassion in your children and gratitude for all they have. When you are older, perhaps they will be kind to their aging parents. (: Note: Be sure to check with your local care home for visiting hours. Also, do not visit if anyone in your family has a cold or anything contagious. Residents are very susceptible to illnesses.
10. Make a Family Thanksgiving Wall.Have a family get together. Give everyone a piece of paper and have them list twenty things they are grateful for. Post these on the wall, on the fridge, or anywhere your family frequently passes. (I chose the refrigerator. 🙂 Take time out every day to remind and to point out what your family members have listed.
The month of November is a great time to help your family focus on activities that will help them be grateful. By expressing appreciation, by giving service and by doing more family-centered activities, families can build character and great compassion throughout the Thanksgiving holidays and throughout the entire year.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving month!