My sweet sister-in-law gave my son, Jenkins the sweetest book when he was little. It was called, Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes. The precious poetic book says thanks to all the little things that make life special. And the illustrations by Doris Barrette make the book come alive. I especially love the sweet expressions on the mother’s face as she watches her children play.
Giving thanks for all the little things reminds me how completely blessed I am as well as how precious life is. Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of year when we should recognize our blessings. But it is definitely a special time to take a step back and celebrate the art of giving thanks.
Even in tough times, we can always find some reason to give thanks. I so often remember one story from Corrie ten Boon’s book, The Hiding Place. Corrie’s sister, Betsy says to give “thanks for fleas” while they laid in flea-infested barracks while in a concentration camp during World War II. Later the sisters realized that it was the fleas that kept the Nazi’s from entering their barracks. This allowed the women to freely read pages of the Bible they had managed to smuggle into the camp. They were able to translate the verses into several different languages so the other women in their barracks could all understand. The Scriptures they read each night gave them hope and energy to survive the brutal and inhumane conditions. I am so thankful for those same fleas! That story has given me so much strength and perspective in many difficult and dark times.
November is an amazing time to practice being thankful. The past few years we have made the tradition of putting our thanks into a Thankful Jar.
I have seen many people start a tradition like this and I absolutely love it. Most years I use an old coffee can. But this year, I went with a jar. The tradition is to write on a slip of paper or a card something you are thankful for and then place it in the jar every day. My jar is something I had on hand, I crocheted a little tie to add color, and I used a sharpie, paper clip, and paper from
brown grocery sacks to make the thankful cards. All things I had on hand and it took me about thirty minutes to whip it together.
Our Thankful Jar has morphed into my favorite holiday tradition, which I will go into more detail later. I like to say that this new tradition makes a seamless transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
**Side note: Before you judge my Thankful Jar, I know that my brand of creativeness may not be as attractive as other’s who have a knack for making everything beautiful. I am not creative because it is cool. I am creative because I am cheap. Plain and simple. I will try just about anything to avoid going to the store and buying something. I hate spending money on something that will be just thrown in the trash or have to be stored. Don’t even get me started on Christmas decorations! I know my crafts and inventions won’t end up on pinterest so the world can try to duplicate them. This is who I am, people. Now, that you know this about me, you may proceed with the judging of my Thankful Jar.**
Back to the tradition of the Thankful Jar: You can let people fill out a thankful card whenever they like or you can have a time during the day where you can share what you are thankful for as a family. Its fun to see the thankful cards fill the jar. And children have the most precious thanks to share. They see and feel so many things that as a mom, I get too busy to see. Though I recommend instituting a rule saying you can’t write the same thing down twice. This weeds out endless cards of a kid’s favorite movie or toy.
The best part of the Thankful Jar:
I mentioned earlier that Christmas decorations are among the things on which I struggle to spend my money. The thankful jar is a solution for this as well. At the end of November, the jar should be full of all the things we have given thanks for throughout the month. We seem to push thankfulness during Thanksgiving/November. But focus are children’s eyes upon all the things they can get during the month of December. But Christmas is the time we should be overflowing with thankfulness! God gave us the most precious gift of all, His Son.
So, in the spirit of Thankfulness and Simplicity, it has been our tradition to hang the thankful cards on our Christmas tree as we read them aloud and praise God from whom all blessings flow.! It is truly one of my favorite traditions. See the seamless transition between Thanksgiving and Christmas?
I add a simple star at the top of the tree and, of course, Christmas lights. You could also do candy canes as well to add a little something. Its so simple and sweet.
No matter how old the child, they can all participate because there isn’t any breakable ornaments to place upon the tree. Just scraps of paper with the most precious scribblings from a family’s heart filled with thanks.
Let me know what holiday tradition that you love in the comments below! Also, check out my other post about surviving the holidays : Tis the Season to be… SIMPLE!