Part 1: Ideas for keeping the faith in our holiday traditions with thankful hearts

So far in our small family’s life, we haven’t set a lot of holiday traditions.

Each year, we’ve had a little Thanksgiving meal of sorts, though usually without the turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce, none of which are included in my children’s rigorous chicken-and-pizza diet.  We’ve managed to get a tree set up each Christmas … the kid kind, where all the ornaments and lights are on the top half, out of the reach of little fingers. And we’ve made our own tradition by spreading holiday cheer every Thanksgiving and Christmas … to our doctor. We’ve had at least one child on antibiotics over every major holiday for the last two years.

We’ve made of own tradition by spreading holiday cheer every Thanksgiving and Christmas … to our doctor.

But we’re nearing the stage where we have a little more time for traditions. And as a Christian mom, I desire so much to focus those traditions … and indeed, our entire home life … on our faith. With that in mind, I took a few minutes to chat with two lovely Lubbock ladies, Kris King, who attends The Gathering of Lubbock, and Kaye Greer, who attends Lakeridge United Methodist Church. They had so many wonderful ideas, I’m going to have to split them into two articles: this one on Thanksgiving and another one on Christmas and New Year’s.

Here are a few of their Thanksgiving thoughts and a few others gathered from my own memories and experiences.

Make a blessing box

King found a lovely way to keep thankfulness at the heart of her home throughout the year with a Blessing Box.

The box (it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, you can use a decorated tissue container) was kept in a prominent place in their home.

“It was a visual aid,” King said.

Throughout the year, when a family member received a blessing … a bonus at work, an academic award, safety on a family trip … he or she wrote it down and put it in the box.
At Thanksgiving, the box was opened and the papers read. King even started writing the blessings down in a keepsake book.

Set out Scriptures

Each Thanksgiving, my Aunt Marella Elder, of Lubbock, writes out verses on little cards, which she then scatters along the holiday tables.

She choses scriptures that have to do with giving thanks, or with God’s goodness, such as Psalm 34:1; Psalm 106: 1 and Colossians 3:15.

The finished cards are pretty to look at and are wonderful reminders of what the holiday is about and to whom we give thanks. Plus, guests can take them home and meditate on the verses throughout the season.

Mark it down

It’s important to celebrate the people who are seated around your Thanksgiving table, King said.

To do this, she’s encouraged guests to write their name, the date and something they are thankful for in fabric marker on a special tablecloth.

The tablecloth has become a family treasure, covered with the names and handwriting of dear ones, some of whom have since passed away.

The tablecloth has become a family treasure, covered with the names and handwriting of dear ones, some of whom have since passed away.  

I love the way this custom makes guests feel included and wanted.

Sing it out

My family’s Thanksgivings growing up often opened in song … usually just a simple hymn of praise.

I have beautiful memories of holding hands with people I love, praising God for His goodness. I’d love for my children to have the same.

Let everyone give thanks

Everyone at Greer’s Thanksgiving table is encouraged to share something they are thankful for and to say a prayer of thanks … even the children.

‘I think it’s good for them to learn to pray.’

“I just think it’s good for them to learn to pray,” she said.

Greer’s family Thanksgiving always includes a time of prayer, with each person around the table taking a turn. Greer said the children’s prayers can sometimes be very short, but even this is good practice and helps the children, “ just to always know that prayer is there.”

How about you? What are some ways you focus on faith over the holidays? I’d love to hear your ideas! Please post them on our Facebook page.