“O Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.” ~ William Shakespeare
Earlier I shared some thoughts on Being Thankful Even When You Don’t Feel Like It and 5 Things You Can Do to Have a Happier (Less-Stressed) Holiday. Today just for fun, I’d like to share a few of my favorite Thanksgiving things… poems, stories, super simple crafts and activities you might enjoy incorporating into your holiday celebrations, too. And at the end, a very special thank you.
When I was little, I was in a Thanksgiving play at school in which my teachers (who were also my aunts) helped me and my classmates (who were also my cousins) hold up letters and recite this sweet poem by Aileen Fisher:
T for time to be together, turkey, talk, and tangy weather.
H for harvest stored away, home, and hearth, and holiday.
A for autumn’s frosty art, and abundance in the heart.
N for neighbors, and November, nice things, new things to remember.
K for kitchen, kettles’ croon, kith and kin expected soon.
S for sizzles, sights, and sounds, and something special that abounds.
That spells THANKS for joy in living and a jolly good Thanksgiving!
[Pictured: My cousin Dawn, me, my little brother Nate, and my cousin Deb at Thanksgiving, ca 1978-79.]
We loved singing at the top of our lungs the Thanksgiving hymn, “We Gather Together.” As a grownup, I understand and appreciate the lyrics even more!
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!
We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
We also loved If You Sailed on the Mayflower by Ann McGovern. It was fascinating to learn what life was like for the Pilgrims — all the hardships they overcame. When I became a third grade teacher, I shared this same book with my students… and through our history curriculum I learned more about Squanto, whose story is another favorite because of the powerful life lessons and spiritual parallels to the life of Joseph in Genesis.
As an Auntie, one of my new favorite books is This First Thanksgiving Day by Laura Krauss Melmud. I love the simple story and gorgeous illustrations. My nephews love looking for all the pictures within the pictures — the bunnies and squirrels and turkeys (even a dinosaur or two!) hiding among the Pilgrims and Indians.
Speaking of my nephews, we love doing craft projects this time of year! We’ve been making handprint turkeys as placecards for the big day… using blank notecards, brown paint, googly eyes, glue, and red / black / yellow sharpies.
And Indian friendship pins and bracelets…. using craft beads, large safety pins, and elastic cord.
One year we wrote our own Thanksgiving psalms — acrostics or prayers that we decorated with scrapbooking odds and ends and then framed.
And this year we made a Blessings Tree… one of the simplest but most impressive-looking craft projects ever! We crinkled up some brown packing paper we found at Target and thumb-tacked it to the wall, strung up a $1.50 package of Christmas lights, and cut out some construction paper leaves with a pattern we found by googling “leaf template.” We put the leaves, a roll of tape, and a sharpie in the bottom half of a greeting card box and tacked that to the wall, too. Now everyone who stops by writes on a leaf something that they’re thankful for!
Over the years, my family’s been through a lot — REALLY a lot. I’ve been through a lot myself. But we’ve learned that God is faithful, always. His heart toward is us love. And we have so much to be thankful for. At some point during this holiday weekend, we’ll be taking time to share with each other the things we’re most thankful for this year (we do it Christmas morning, too — before we open presents).
This year, one of the things I’m most thankful for is you.
It’s been a huge leap of faith and a lot of work launching this blog — jumping into Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest with both feet (instead of just dipping one cautious toe)– to connect more with the women God’s called me to walk alongside and encourage. The women He’s called me to minister to through my writing and speaking and radio ministry. But it’s been so wonderful getting to know you better, keeping in touch more often, sharing our hearts. You have blessed my heart and encouraged me more than you know!
I thank God for you!
In His Love,