– by Mary May Larmoyeux – A few years ago our family started a new tradition: making a Thanksgiving tree. We begin with a small plastic tree that’s designed for gumdrops to be attached to its branches. But instead of gumdrops, our tree will be filled with construction-paper leaves that the grandkids will make.
On Thanksgiving morning, everyone will write some things that they are thankful for on the front of the leaves and jot their names on the back. Both adults and children will take turns picking fall leaves, and reading the words of gratitude that are written on them. After each person selects a leaf, others will guess who wrote it. And whoever guesses the correct person will get to pick the next leaf from the tree and read the words on the front of it out loud. I save the leaves in envelopes by year.
It’s amazing how the words of gratitude change as family members get older! Here are some of the things that our family was grateful for in 2013: family, my teacher, God, plants, donuts, life, Jesus, my dog … friends, food, books, creation … my turtle.
In 2015 the words of gratitude included: my wonderful family that loves me, Jesus dying for us, U.S.A., the outdoors, laughter, taste buds (yes, this was really on the back of a leaf) … the wonders of creation, my sister, a church family, this food we are eating … Memaw and Pepaw, Nana and Pops … my friends.
Here’s how you can make your own “Thanksgiving tree.”
- Purchase a gumdrop tree or make a small tree out of twigs.
- Cut leaves from index cards or fall-colored construction paper.
- Hole punch leaves.
- Ask loved ones to write little notes of gratitude on the leaves and attach them to the branches of your tree.
More ideas for keeping thanks in Thanksgiving are in Nancy Downing’s and my book, The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild’s Heart. Here’s one of them: “Help your grandchild write a special Thanksgiving blessing that he can share on Thanksgiving Day. Help him type it on the computer in a calligraphy font with a decorative border.”
And you may want to read 10 Ways to Help the Kids Be Thankful This Thanksgiving.
How do you encourage a spirit of thankfulness on Thanksgiving Day and throughout the year?
Post and photo copyright © 2014, 2016 by Mary May Larmoyeux. All rights reserved.
Searching for some creative ideas for grandparents? Check out The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild’s Heart. It’s written by a USA Teacher of the Year, Nancy Downing, and Mary Larmoyeux, a writer for FamilyLife. Paper and electronic versions are available. (Great for parents, aunts and uncles, too!)