Today I'm happy to feature a guest post by my husband, Steve. It's hard to believe that November is already here and we're planning for the holidays. I love the thoughts that Steve shares here. Hope you enjoy them too!
By Steven Christensen
It’s that time of year again when our extended families congregate on the 4th Thursday of November to celebrate a large feast and relax—Thanksgiving. The term Thanksgiving conjures up visions of juicy, golden turkeys cooking in the oven with the aroma permeating the house and beckoning all those to the table within smelling distance. Thanksgiving is that time of year when the leaves turn from green to yellow and orange to red and then pile up on the sidewalks while passersby crunch them under their shoes on a gentle stroll in the cool, crisp air.
Thanksgiving is a beautiful time of year and it’s fun to eat great food and relax, but often we neglect the true meaning of this holiday. The very name itself contains the word “Thanks” in it, and also the often missed other half “Giving.” No doubt, there will be many families on this Thanksgiving Day that will go around the table prior to eating and share what they are thankful for, but maybe this isn’t enough. We need to show gratitude and thankfulness not only by our words, but also through our actions.
This is where the “Giving” part comes in. We need to show our true gratitude by giving to our neighbors, communities, and our country. Participating in activities of service often helps to remind us of those things we are thankful for—little things that we might take for granted in our daily lives.
A special Family Home Evening on the topic of gratitude and giving might help motivate your family to look for ways to serve during this holiday. Ask your family to create a list of the things that they are thankful for, then ask them to think about the community around them. Are there people who do not have some of the things that we are thankful for on this list? How could we serve them?
Remember, even a small act of service can impact someone’s life. A card or a note can brighten someone’s day. The idea is to help your family think about Thanks and Giving to celebrate this holiday. How can you enhance your holiday traditions this year to include more service to others?
Perhaps you can add to your table discussion this year. When given the opportunity to tell what you are thankful for, take a moment to share ideas of how you plan on giving during this holiday season. Your family could create a new tradition to celebrate how truly grateful you are to be a part of your family, community, and country.
For example, this year my family will hold a special Family Home Evening where we will talk about gratitude and the importance of giving. My children are young, but they still have the opportunity to serve. I’ll involve my family in planning a special service activity to show our Thanks and Giving for the holiday. My kids enjoy taking treats to one of our neighbors who happens to be a widow. We’ll talk about the importance of sharing our love with those around us. They also enjoy raking leaves and so we’ll help out some of our elderly neighbors. These small acts will be a starting point to help our family get on the “service wavelength” during November.
I’ll encourage my children to look for more opportunities to serve and then plan to tell about some special service they did during our Thanksgiving meal. We’ll add to our tradition of sharing gratitude as we go around the table. I hope that this new tradition of service will impact our family for years to come.
Here are a few suggestions to get your family involved in the spirit of Thanksgiving this year.
Take some time this November around Thanksgiving to help a neighbor on some yard cleanup, snow removal, bring them a meal, make them a treat, or just stop by to visit and tell them how thankful you are to have them as a neighbor.
Give to your community by volunteering at your local city office, donating food to the local food bank, serve food at the local shelter, volunteer at your schools, or get involved in your city’s programs and activities and show your support.
Give to your country by voting for your government officials, flying the American flag, sending our troops letters or packages to show them your support, and by living the laws of the land and being a good citizen.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving this year. Have fun being with your family, eating that beautifully cooked turkey, and watching the Dallas Cowboys after eating your feast. Just remember during this season to take the time to not only share your gratitude, but to also give. Through our giving we will show even more gratitude to those around us. Remember that “…when you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God”. (Mosiah 2:17)