A body of research confirms that adults and youngsters who report an attitude of gratitude are more content, more helpful to others, healthier, more joyful, and are less envious, materialistic, and less likely to be depressed. Is Thanksgiving Day an American holiday, or a lifestyle, or both? I say both!
How do we decide to BE thankful? It is a choice of our wills as an act of faith, not dependent upon our feelings. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us, “In everything give thanks: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  By faith, we give thanks knowing:

  • God is sovereign over all.
  • He works everything for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
  • He is present in our circumstances; He will never leave us, nor forsake us.

As you approach the Thanksgiving holiday, how can you model thankfulness to your children? I believe thankfulness is a mindset to be modeled in word and deed all year long. Taken from Julie Brasington‘s idea of using five kernels of corn placed at each person’s table setting at the Thanksgiving Day meal, this is one child-friendly way to demonstrate gratitude. (Changes made to her original.)

The first kernel reminds us that God loves us. Let us be thankful.
The second kernel reminds us that God provides for all our needs. Let us be thankful.
The third kernel reminds us of the friends God has given us – just as Squanto was friends to the Pilgrims.  Let us be thankful.
The fourth kernel reminds us of the people whom God has given to love us and teach us – our parents, grandparents, teachers and our church leaders.  Let us be thankful.
And the fifth kernel reminds us that God hears our prayers and answers them. Let us be thankful.

Try setting a Gratitude Jar on your counter with slips of paper handy for writing little expressions of heartfelt gratitude on them. This will instill a thoughtful pattern of thanksgiving for the many blessings God grants. Write the child’s name and date on each one. It could become a family heirloom.

A beautifully illustrated, read-aloud book is Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas. It is a story about Squanto and the Pilgrims and how God’s sovereign hand was with them. It demonstrates our country’s spiritual roots and our early American history, with no revisionism.