Practical Suggestions for Families During Thanksgiving

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

How are you holding up? It’s Wednesday and the kids have been out of school all week long and the ever-growing, constant need is owning you. Who in the school system thought it would be a good idea to give kids the entire week out?!

Wherever you’re at this Thanksgiving eve, let Colossians 3:15 be your meditation and anchor as you enter into the craziness of today and tomorrow. With all the food preparation, the hype, kids going nuts, and all the flurry of activity, there is Jesus among it all. As His ambassadors, we are called to dethrone ourselves to allow His peace to rule over, in, and through our hearts. Where there is expectation and dysfunction there lies one attempting to sit on the throne they were never intended to sit on.

As we see this in ourselves and in others, let us be reminded that the gospel of peace is made available to us and for us to extend to others. Let us make the most of the moments and invite those we find ourselves in conversation with into this peace that Jesus alone can offer.

And also, be thankful. I love how direct Paul is. Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday it is a command. We can see in the Scriptures how thanksgiving and table are uniquely connected. From David’s invitation to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:10), to the table prepared before our enemies (Psalm 23:5), to Jesus reclining at table with sinners (Matthew 9:10) and the religious (Luke 7:37), to the last Supper (Luke 22:14) to the feast we’ll enjoy in the end (Revelation 19:9), the table serves as a place of relationship and celebration.

In light of gathering around table, how can we point our kids and families towards the greatest relationship of all in the spirit of thanksgiving? Below are 10 suggestions I shamelessly stole from the article Josue sent out last week. It was so good there was no reason for me to try to top it. Alex Absalom, in this article, writes,

1. Go round the table and invite everyone to name one thing, one person and one place for which they are thankful.

2. Have the table decide what is the funniest thing for which someone is thankful!

3. Bring a themed activity for the younger children – perhaps coloring, making a craft or building a Lego turkey – which they then share with the adults and explain what they’ve done and why.

4. Ask the children and teens at the table if they can suggest some benefits of being  thankful. Don’t be satisfied with bland answers!

5. Copy the original Pilgrims – after their first brutal year, at Thanksgiving each person was given 5 kernels of corn beside their plate as a reminder of their starvation rations. They then named 5 things for which they were thankful to God.

6. As a family, commit to an act of service that lives out your thankfulness. You might need to arrange this in advance, or agree to do it at a later date, or even have something practical ready for that day (raking the leaves of an elderly neighbor, etc).

7. As a family collect a thankfulness offering of money, which you give to a needy person or cause with whom you are all connected.

8. A fun visual game: put a big glass vase in the middle of the table. As the meal winds down, each person takes a cup of water, says what they are thankful for, and pours the water into the vase. Eventually it will overflow – part of the fun is seeing who will be that tipping point person, so give them a prize or a forfeit! (If you put a big platter or tray underneath the vase then the mess will be easy to clear up.) The point is a simple one to highlight: God’s blessings to us are overflowing in abundance.

9. If you are an active sort of family, see if there is a sponsored 5k run that day (the local Turkey Trot, etc!). It might mean an early Thanksgiving morning, but you could run together and raise money for a cause that is important to your family.

10. “The Prayer” – For some of your family, the grace at Thanksgiving is the only time they ever pray with others. If you are known as being a committed Christian, you might well be asked to lead the prayer, so come prepared! Use simple, non- religious language that points people to the source of all blessing, as you thank God your Heavenly Father.

Be blessed and enjoy your time with friends and family! Remember Advent starts this Sunday, November 27th , and we will continue to sell Prepare Him Room family devotionals at the kid’s check and connections table if you haven’t purchased one already.

Aaron Cotton, Family Discipleship Leader