As we approach the coming holiday we call Thanksgiving, it seems harder than ever to embrace a spirit of thankfulness. Life has been complicated in 2020, with no end in sight. Financial burdens, health issues, family concerns, or just the endless challenges of every day life this year can cause gratitude to feel a million miles away. Now, as many face a Thanksgiving day without extended family, it can seem impossible to find a simple pathway to thankfulness.
Several years ago, as young parents of two small boys, life seemed busy and complicated. My husband and I were looking for a way to encourage a spirit of gratitude both in our own hearts and with our boys. One day, in a few moments of unexpected creativity, we began a simple tradition that has become one of our family’s most significant times together each year. We began writing a family Thanksgiving book.
At the time I was a busy mom with two little boys, not much time and even less money. I needed something that could come together quickly. Rummaging through a bin of craft supplies, I found a journal with blank pages. Digging further, I discovered some fabric scraps and ribbon. A little glue and scissors swiftly turned the once-plain journal into a one-of-a-kind family memory book.
Thanksgiving morning arrived. Still in their pajamas, my two blond-haired boys munched on Cheerios and drank orange juice from their lidded cups. As they finished breakfast, my husband began to describe to them how we were all going to think of something to be thankful for and put it in our book. Soon, with determined concentration, a crayon in each hand, and a pink tongue sticking out between pressed lips, each boy took their turn and drew artwork from a thankful heart on the first pages of our new book. Our Thanksgiving tradition had begun.
On that Thanksgiving day, I had no idea how precious this little book would become to our family. As I look through our book now, the memories come flooding back. Laughter as I read my four-year-old daughter’s entry expressing her thankfulness for “my mommy and daddy, my brothers, juice, and string cheese”. Renewed strength when I read an entry from seventeen years ago as we learned to accept my older son’s diagnosis of juvenile diabetes. Joy in memories from the year my younger son expressed gratitude for his wedding day “with beautiful weather, friends and family who surrounded us.” A few entries recorded by loved ones who have passed away are priceless.
Every Thanksgiving as we open our book, we read a few highlights from past years, share a few laughs, and create a new chapter. Our Thanksgiving Book has become so much more than a tradition now. It is the record of our family life together and a treasure we hope to pass down to future generations.
So if you feel like the spirit of thankfulness is a little harder to find this year, take time to chart a different course for your family. Even the simplest journal from a discount store will work. It’s not what is on the outside that matters – it is what you put on the inside that will make it valuable. No matter what your family situation is, these few simple steps can begin a journey of writing your own family Thanksgiving book for this year and the years to come.
Hello! I’m Debbie — Lover of Jesus, Pastor’s Wife, Mom, Encourager, Hobby Gardener and passionate about the simple pleasures of life.