“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all in our hearts are reflections of a year that has been so different and, yes, quite difficult. How can we model and encourage gratitude and hope on this Thanksgiving Eve? I hope these few last-minute suggestions enrich your Thanksgiving blessings!
Young children love doing holiday acrostics. This is a wonderful activity for family gatherings. I am going to share a Classroom Observer’s Thanksgiving Acrostic that I hope will give you ideas of blessings you and your children can build on.
Thankfulness of celebrating each day in God’s world. Togetherness this Thanksgiving may be done in low numbers, by Zoom or by calling family members and friends because of COVID-19. My own extended family, which has met together every year for as long as I can remember, cannot come together this year. Realize that togetherness is more than just being together physically. Togetherness is truly caring for other people from the heart, by loving them, caring for them and praying for them. Children love to reach out to their families by sending cards, drawing pictures and making gifts for their family and friends.
Hope helps us continually face difficult and discouraging times. The heart of hope is prayer. God leans in and hears a child’s prayers. HE leans in to hear our prayers and encourages us through gentle understanding and whispers that things will get better. Children seem to reflect this hope with a sparkle in their eyes. This sparkle of hope is a contagious heartfelt attitude of gratitude.
Americans in the early days! “Lest you Forget” is a way to connect our Thanksgiving celebration to the first harvest feast and celebration that brought pilgrims and Native Americans together. This special time of looking at history can be enhanced by reading books to your children. Too, this is an excellent time to share about their family history and traditions; children love to hear stories of when their parents and grandparents were children having Thanksgiving. This is a good time for your children to understand gratitude for those who have gone before us in making our lives better. Too, I looked at “A” as a way of looking at Answered prayers during this past year. When children remember how God answered their prayers, it builds their faith. It is a stockpile of evidence that God does hear our prayers. Children absolutely love to hear and read the Psalms. Psalms 118 verse 21 says, “I will praise You, for You have answered me, And have become my salvation.” Too, our young children can begin right now in putting Psalm 100, verse 4 to heart as we all celebrate Thanksgiving this year. “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise, Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”
Nature is something that has become very special to all of us as we have had to slow down during this pandemic. We have stopped completely and looked around and observed God’s beautiful world. One of my favorite hymns is “This Is My Father’s World” (text by Malthie D. Babcock and the music by Franklin L. Sheppard). Families, please Google this beautiful song that reflects listening to God’s world, seeing God’s world and expressing gratitude and thanksgiving to our Father in Heaven, who made us a beautiful world to live in. This is a song that has a tune that is so easy for children to sing and put to heart when they are doing outdoor activities and adventures in nature. Children love to observe nature!
Kindness is a fruit of the spirit that young children love to talk about and show. During this time of desperate needs, kindness has been shown in our community. The kindness we have seen this year spells Love to our children. It shows that we care for each other. During this Thanksgiving time we can reflect and thank God for the acts of kindness that people have shown our families this year. Too, we can let folks who have shown us kindness know that by expressing gratitude verbally or in written cards.
Serving others. Thanksgiving is a time for us to share the harvest of blessings that God has provided for us during this year. This may be food, time, talents and care. Young children love to help! Including them in family projects of serving others provides a deep sense of gratitude in their lives of helping others.
Good: This is teaching our young children to do the right thing for the right reason. During these times of uncertainty, we can teach our children valuable life lessons to hang on to a rope of good when they are disappointed or discouraged. When we reach out to others in goodness, this dissolves a spirit of self-pity and bitterness. Children are thinking of others rather than themselves.
Identity: I love teaching the Bible verse 139:14 to young children: “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Starting with infants and toddlers, young children love to see themselves in the mirror. They laugh, grin and point when they see a reflection of themselves. Though very young, they know that they are special to God and their families. They are unique!
Values: Young children have such open hearts to learn values early in their lives. We have to take the time to teach them what is right and wrong. Laying this foundation early in their lives is a gift that makes their growing up years easier as they journey to joy in being happy and helping others.
Individuals: Now is the time to truly get to know and appreciate family members and friends. To teach young children early in life to listen to others, help others and love others for who they are and how God made them is such a valuable life lesson! During this year, we have truly had time to get to know our family and friends.
Name: I tie this in with identity and individuals. Everyone loves to hear their name called. This might be a time that you can share and talk with your child why you named them the name that they have. Children truly enjoy how their parents came up with their names.
God: Psalm 95:3: “For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.” Our God created us, gave us life, His forgiveness, grace and goodness! Truly this is the main reason we express gratitude this Thanksgiving!
I pray that all families will have a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving. Our attitude of gratitude is truly a reason for family worship during this season where God walks before our families in guiding us in hope as we look up to Him to give us strength and direction. What a life lesson we can teach our children this Thanksgiving.
Classroom Observer, Beth Pinyerd