Thanksgiving is a fun time for my extended family to be together, to feast, to watch football, fight about politics, religion, the game...So I was looking last year for a way to have us share a bit more of our lives and to give thanks for the good gifts. So here is a simple idea we did last Thanksgiving: a Gratitude or Thanksgiving Tree.
I printed leaf patterns and traced them on fall colored construction paper. The kids then cut them out, I punched a hole in them and strung a little yarn in a loop. I then wrote out each guest for Thanksgiving on each individual leaf. I then set them at the table as place cards. I found an old vase and filled it with stones and small tree branches.
As we enjoyed appetizers, I asked each guest to write something they were thankful for down on their card. I had to hand some people the card but all participated!! After the main course was finished, the children would take each card from a person and I would read their thanksgiving and the children would then hang the tree on the branches. It was simple and fun. Whether or not all present believed the gifts were from God, all were able to find something to be thankful for and I hope our joy was a testimony to them too. If your family might not be game to the idea of sharing, you could always make the leaves ahead of time with the children and then share the kid's thoughts with everyone! Or not read them aloud at all but keep the tree out for people to read on their own.
Here is a goofy picture of me from my mom (please ignore the postpartum belly too!) of our little Gratitude Tree:
Thanksgiving Day Collect from the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Thanksgiving Day Scripture from the Lectionary:
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Looking for more ways to enter into the a Spirit of Thankfulness:
Visit the Grateful Community at Holy Experience and begin your own 1000 Things list
Looking for ways to teach your children about Thanksgiving:
Find Quality Children's Books for Thanksgiving here and here
For Great Thanksgiving Ideas and lapbooks visit 1+1+1=1
For Free Family Crafts, Activities and Printables visit Kids Soup