Bringing THANKS Back to Thanksgiving | By Lauren Cop

The Short List of Gratitude Activities for the Whole Family

The current young generation of ‘Millennials’ has often been labeled as entitled and therefore are unhappy. Although not always the case, I have found this to sometimes be true among my peers, athletes, students, and even myself. After countless discussions with my husband on the current state of our generation and this ‘me’ mentality, we have prioritized instilling both gratitude and humility in our children. We have chosen to try to be preemptive in our efforts to combat this constant self-gratification by taking steps to encourage our children to be humble, modest, and most importantly thankful for what they have. In light of the coming holiday, I thought it was only proper to discuss some of my thoughts of how to demonstrate appreciativeness to our children.

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A brief background – Thanksgiving is and always has been one of my favorite holidays. Hello – it’s based on the kitchen! But there is so much more to it! We often shared this experience with close neighbors, church members, as well as family. We started the day with neighborhood touch football either in my yard or at the local elementary school. Then we would come home to finish any cooking that needed to be done and get ready for our meal. There was football, lots of appetizers, and plenty of food to go around. We always made sure to go around the room for everyone to share what they were thankful for as well. We watched football, played games, ate, drank, and were merry! The smell of cinnamon, clove, apple, honey, and turkey, combined with the warm crackling fire in the wood-burning fireplace, all while watching the first snow flurries of the season made this day just perfect!

When I was in high school a new tradition was brought to my family from our interim Pastor David Farley. He was called to work at an inner city Lutheran Church in Philadelphia and on Thanksgiving they cooked a meal and fed the homeless, poor, and those without family. If you were too sick, cold, or otherwise encumbered, they brought the food to you. One year, my father mentioned he was going to participate and I chose to go with him. Unsure of what I would encounter, it really was one of the most amazing experiences! I mainly worked in the kitchen preparing meals and cleaning dishes, but I did get to see the warm smiling faces of all kinds of people. Everyone said ‘ thank you’ – an often forgotten phrase today. There were people there from all walks of life communing together over food. I had never felt more filled with love at that time in my life! This small act really changed my views on who is actually ‘poor’, ‘homeless’, and ‘needy’. I hope my children one day experience something similar!

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Here is a short list of some great ideas on how to teach your children the true meaning of thanks…

The Compassion Experience – A lifelike walk-through of the lives of children living in poverty in third world countries. At the end of the educational experience, you will have the opportunity to sponsor a child and/or family. Read about a first-hand experience here.

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Donate to a Charity – This seems like a simple act that would be obvious, but it is surprising how many people ‘forget’ to donate during this time of year. Although you may be wary of where your funds are going and if they do truly make an impact, there are hundreds of charities out there that truly do help. Also here is an article to help you decide where to donate your money.

Visit a Hospital/Hospice – It can be totally awful to be in a hospital or hospice during the holidays. Sometimes families and friends cannot even see their loved ones for several weekends. Human contact is so important during the holiday season – so why not visit ones who need your help. I have been to a teen mental institution on Christmas Eve and let me tell you – there were only two families there at the time for a visit. Some kids were sent home, others were not able to leave – and hardly anyone came to visit. I cannot think of anything more depressing than a child alone for the holidays. Whether you just drop off some small gifts or cards, or stay for a whole day of visiting you will make someone so happy. Just call your local hospitals or hospices and ask how you can help!

Send care package to Soldiers – Bottom line – regardless of politics – the majority of those in service are young men and women, fighting for our country and needing our support. Many of them do not have supportive families, if at all. Please consider having your children send them small care packages during this time of year. Again, a small gesture can make a world of difference.

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Volunteer at a shelter/food pantry – This is another opportunity for your family to come face to face with those in need during the holiday season. You can do this through a church, local food pantry, or meals on wheels. There are endless possibilities. Please call your local organizations to see how they need help during this season.

Decorate with Thanks – With young ones, this can often be the easiest way to show thanks. Plus, who doesn’t like to see what these creative minds can accomplish? There are endless possibilities right at your fingertips – from thankful trees to a gratitude jar!

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Other helpful ideas

Bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how big or small the activity; teaching gratitude and compassion to our children is imperative. It will help shape and mold their minds for a better future. Yes enjoy the food, fun and fellowship of this time of year. Smell all the wonderful aromas. Cheer for your favorite football team in their vintage jerseys. As much as we (or I) really want this holiday to be about food and food only – it is REALLY about giving thanks.

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Lauren Cop is a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins by day and coaches Volleyball and Track in her “me time”. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram! Please subscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

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Why are all the photos of the kiddos watermarked? Why should you think about watermarking pictures you take of your children before you post them on your own blog?

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11 thoughts on “Bringing THANKS Back to Thanksgiving | By Lauren Cop

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