November 14, 2022
Recently, a dear friend, Susan, and I went out for an evening of shopping together, a rare treat for us both. As Susan drove down the perpetually busy roads through a haze of drizzly rain, we chatted about holiday memories. Some memories are sweet and treasured. Some memories are hard. Yet there are new memories to be made.
My friend and I both share the same sentiment about Thanksgiving; it is our favorite holiday. Neither one of us likes the intense busyness of the Christmas season and the often opulent materialism. Susan mentioned that in America it’s as if we race from Halloween to Christmas with little thought of the important holiday in between, Thanksgiving. Neither Susan nor I celebrate Halloween, yet we both feel the rush towards the Christmas season and the inability to fully embrace Thanksgiving and all its depth of meaning.
Susan treasures fond memories of Thanksgiving at her grandparent’s home, an hour away from her childhood home. The day involved everyone’s help with the men folk hunting in the nearby woods and the ladies preparing the bounty of the hunt for the Thanksgiving feast.
My best Thanksgiving memories are trips to my native homeland, Ohio, where my grandmother lived on eight acres of land. My grandfather built a Sears kit home in the 1960s on a 3 acre clearing amongst the peaceful woods. The woods were the stage for many of my childhood adventures with my brothers, and even to this day, I still see those woods in my dreams. The property is no longer owned by my extended family, and a little sadness fills my heart over bygone days.
Reminiscing about past Thanksgivings, though pleasant, requires only a passive attitude, yet as a mother now I must move into action and create holiday memories for my children. No matter where we celebrate the actual day of Thanksgiving, my heart’s desire is to imbue a love for this quiet, special day in my children’s hearts and develop a lifelong habit of gratitude.
For today’s post I was tempted to jump right into something Christmas, but then I was reminded not to pass over Thanksgiving. Here are a few ideas of how I am teaching my children about this important holiday and keeping our minds focused on thankfulness to God.
Focus on scripture that teaches thankfulness.
My children and I read Psalm 100 this morning, and I plan to read it to them each day for the next week or so.
Sing songs that remind us to praise God.
Here are a few of my favorite hymns that focus on praising God:
Teach children the history behind Thanksgiving.
My children and I started using Abeka’s Flash-a-card series to discover the history about American Thanksgiving.
Teach your children what the word Thanksgiving actually means.
This morning in our Bible time, I asked my oldest what this word meant, and through a series of guiding questions I explained to her that we are giving something (thanks) and that Someone must be the object of our thanks.
Remembering Who we are giving thanks to is extremely important. For many who do not know God, they speak of being thankful, but to Whom are they thankful? Gratitude must be given to someone. Thankfulness implies gratitude toward the benevolence of another, and this gratitude should be directed toward the One giving.
A few more thoughts for a mama’s heart at Thanksgiving…
Our sinful hearts constantly yearn for more, and we are ever tempted to want the next thing, whatever that may be. For me, I long for more space in my home, and I grow impatient waiting for God’s timing and direction. As I contemplate gratitude this season, my mind keeps coming back to Hebrews 13:5, “Let your conversation [lifestyle] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have, for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Whatever I have at this moment, my heart must abide with in contentment. God knows our family’s needs just as He knows your family’s specific needs! I would never want to exchange the presence of God for anything temporal this world has to offer. How my heart is quieted when I remember that God will never, ever leave me! Satisfied with God Himself, David said, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Ps. 73:25).
Instead of focusing on all the things that I would like to have some day, God is teaching me to focus on what I currently have and to thank God for those things! Tomorrow, I may not have my current blessings, so I must be grateful today.
There is a strong link between contentment and gratitude. Discontentment says, “I want more and am not thankful for what I have today.” Contentment says, “Thank you, God, for what I have today, and I know that You will meet all my genuine needs.”
Like any muscle that needs continual exertion to maintain strength, gratitude is a spiritual muscle that we must continually exercise every day, all day. It takes practice to learn to be grateful. Trust me, I know. I have struggled with an ungrateful heart for so much of my life, and God has taken me to the proverbial spiritual wood shed many times over discontentment.
Please know that I am “preaching to myself” first and foremost and I that struggle with contentment just as probably many others do. More than changing circumstances in my life to suit my fancy, God is most concerned with renewing my heart and shaping it into His image.
Today I choose gratitude to God, and I hope you will too, friend!