celebrations, Jesus, Parenting

Preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving

We come to give thanks.

We situate this holiday, Thanksgiving, between gorging ourselves on candy at Halloween and gorging ourselves on spending at Christmas. Perhaps it’s the best place to put it to help us remember to be grateful for what we have. We bless God and thank God for His mercy, His grace, and His steadfast love.

For 22 days, at least this month, we have an opportunity to focus on thankfulness for our blessings.

We started a new tradition – though, with little ones, it’s hard to have traditions – so we started something new this year: thankful leaves. Every day starting Nov. 1, each member of our family has listed something for which to be grateful and thankful on a cut out leaf. It’s sometimes serious, sometimes funny, and sometimes a struggle because, again, we have two children who are silly, young, and, most importantly, impressionable.

Every night, they hear what Mommy and Daddy are grateful for: family, health, friends, reading. We haven’t gotten far yet, but it is only Day 5. We are thankful for each other. We are thankful for the love shared between our two girls. We are thankful for our health, something which has been a struggle for too many years.

Then we ask our 5-year-old what she is thankful for. She’s 5. She knows the Sunday school answers and has already listed them: God, Jesus, my family. But she can’t use the same answer twice, so she has to think a little more. “My sister,” she answers, and we know she means it. Before the crack of dawn, if The Artist is awake, she can’t help herself. She has to go sneak into her baby sister’s room and wake her up to play. She misses her at school – and the feeling is mutual. Before The Artist leaves with her daddy for school, The Engineer yells, “Wait! A hug! A hug!” And they hug and give each other kisses with the promise that, “I’ll see you after school.”

Lastly, it’s The Engineer’s turn. She doesn’t really understand what’s going on. She doesn’t understand the concept of “thankfulness,” so we ask her, “What are you happy for?” And then we giggle, because her answers are so truthful and so simple. The first day, she held up a Paw Patrol chicken nugget and said, “Paw ‘trol!” because she was thankful for those bone-shaped chicken nuggets. The next day, she answered the name of a friend.

We all are thankful for someone or something. We all will get wrapped up in the pretty, glittery Christmastime – as we should. Christmas is its own special, miraculous holiday that deserves splendor and glory to God.

But Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving is still warm, still fall, still crunchy leaves and all things pumpkin. Oh, how it blesses us to give thanks to the Lord! It’s a reminder all the time to see the beauty in God’s creation as the leaves fall and swirl around us, revealing bare trees and chilly winds as the colors of red, orange, brown, and purple gently rain down from the sky.

And, as The Artist stated on the first day, she is quite thankful to catch the falling leaves.

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