Giving Thanks as a Family Tradition

The leaves are turning brown and falling. The days are getting shorter and cooler. The atmosphere is changing and we are rearing up for the holiday season. It’s the season to give thanks!

As a parent, I’ve discovered this time of the year is important to the family. We find ourselves closer in proximity and in understanding. Maybe the cold air brings us all together. Maybe it’s just God at work.

If you’re like me and my wife, we’re eager to introduce and maintain family traditions that cultivate gratitude and reflection. This year, we hope to start a tradition of giving thanks at the dinner table.

In a way, we’ve been doing it for years. It just comes with the turkey. But this time, we want to employ subtleties that help make the time even more memorable. Our aim is to draw attention to the goodness of God. Here’s how you can join us.

Gather Scriptures on Giving Thanks

It’s always best to start with God’s Word. So gather scriptures that encourage thanksgiving and gratitude. The Bible is chock full of them. Here are a few:

  • “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
  • “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
  • “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.” (Psalm 92:1)
  • “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)
  • “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!” (Psalm 147:7)
  • “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:4-5)

Make Small Cards for Each Family Member

For each member of the family, you want a small piece of paper or a note card. Write or print a scripture verse on the paper and leave room for them to write, as well. Below the verse, add “I am thankful to God this year for …” The family member will finish the sentence in their own hand writing.

This can be a memorable event each year. So, the more time you put into making these cards worth keeping, the better. It can easily become a card that your children collect each year for future reflection.

Get Together and Give Thanks

Choose a time to sit down together–over dinner or during an evening–where everyone can focus and be patient. Hand a card to each member and instruct them to read the scripture and then finish the sentence.

Once everyone is done, take turns reading the scriptures from the cards and discussing what each person is thankful for. Be sure to give everyone an opportunity to talk. Ask them questions and draw out the ways God has been good.

Glorify God

Do all of this with the desire to glorify God, not to correct or punish your kids. They may not enjoy it at first, but it will pay off over time as God’s goodness is put on display. Sometimes, the best part of being thankful is reflecting on what God has done. In doing so, He will be glorified.

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