It's all Ann Voskamp's fault. I can't really blame anyone else but her - and the Holy Spirit.
I was feeling unsettled about our Thanksgiving plans for this year, for some reason. And then, about a week ago, I came across Ann Voskamp's Thanksgiving family activity called The Thanks Giving Tree. If you're not familiar with Ann, she has written One Thousand Gifts, a book that has remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for over a year - and not because it's filled with nastiness that shouldn't be discussed in public or private. It's a beautiful book, I've heard from friends. I hope to read it soon.
Anyway, after reading about Ann's Thanks Giving Tree, I decided that we should give this a try for our Thanksgiving dinner. In years past, although we are very grateful to the Lord Jesus for blessing our family, our demonstration of gratefulness wasn't much more than a prayer of thanks before we ate our turkey dinner together.
This year, I felt the whisper of the Holy Spirit to be more intentional about showing our thanks to the Lord. And so we did. Ann offers some pages of beautiful, free printable leaves that contain Bible verses of thanksgiving on one side, and are blank on the back side so people can write down things that they are thankful for.
I printed these out, bought some new eucalyptus stems - and that was a joy in and of itself! I don't usually buy anything except groceries, stamps, and a few odds and ends for our homeschooling, so it was delightful to browse through the stems of greenery (a.k.a. "fake" plants) at our local craft store and find something that would match our table. Of course, the aroma of eucalyptus is absolutely intoxicating to me, too, so it was an easy decision.
We sat down and prayed for our special Thanksgiving meal, and then enjoyed eating and visiting with each other. It's such a blessing to spend time with family and friends! After we had finished eating turkey, turkey with gravy, and more turkey, I handed out the small printed leaves from Ann's website. We spent a few minutes writing down things we are thankful for, and then we took turns going around the table, reading the Scripture verses and then sharing with each other for what we were thankful, one leaf at a time.
Such a wide variety of answers, from "chicken" to "my husband's provisions for us so I am able to stay at home with our children."
Seeing Ann's Thanks Giving Tree inspired me and one of my daughters to develop some free printable Leaves of Thanks, that anyone could print out and place around their home to share more Scripture verses with their family and guests.
We loved how these turned out, and we're currently working on some new Scripture printables for Christmas - so, stay tuned!
We brought our Thanksgiving decor box out of the attic and placed autumn / Thanksgiving decorations around the house. I don't want Thanksgiving to be an afterthought, where all we remember about it is the turkey and the gravy - no matter how good that may be!
I decided to bring a few decorations out from years past. The fabric turkey on the left was made by my paternal grandmother, who passed away just over a year ago at age 98!
The foam "Give Thanks" pilgrims sign was something my girls made when they were quite small! Oh, did that bring back memories!
Another adjustment I made to our Thanksgiving day together was that we decided to not make a ton of side dishes. We decided to simplify our menu! After all, for my family, the thing we look forward to the most is the turkey, homemade gravy, and Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes. Instead of having several salads and vegetable side dishes, we stuck with a more simple menu. I cooked the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pecan pie, and chocolate cream pie. My parents brought over a new brussels sprouts dish with dried cranberries in them (yum!), and a pumpkin pie. My mom helped out while I was finishing up the food; she made her delicious homemade gravy for us. Our friend, Marge, brought over butterflake rolls to share with us.
See? Simple. It was the first Thanksgiving Day that I didn't feel rushed or overly stressed.
And when everyone left to go home that evening, my heart rhythm wasn't all messed up, so I didn't need to take a nap on the couch.
It was a beautiful day!
I feel especially blessed to spend most Thanksgiving Days with my parents. They aren't getting any younger, ya' know, and I treasure each holiday or Holy Day I'm able to spend with them.
It took extra time to be intentional about handing down our faith and thankfulness to our children and our guests...but I'd say it was completely worth it! The day was so much more peaceful. We all worked together to help prepare the food, and it was a joy to share the day together.
Have you ever intentionally planned activities, decor, or other things to share your faith with others on holidays or Holy Days?
Hi! I'm Julieanne!