Gratitude is valued in our culture as a practice that brings positivity into our lives. There is research supporting its many benefits. At Thanksgiving, it is something Americans can all agree is meaningful! But in an increasingly secular culture, being thankful is often stripped down to be an attitude or practice of noticing the good.
As a Christ-follower, thankfulness is not only a practice; it is relational in its very nature. To say “thanks” implies there is a gift-giver. Meaning is stripped away from gratitude when we are no longer thankful to someone!
There is such greater meaning when we’re not only thankful for a list of things at Thanksgiving but are first of all thankful for the relationship we have with the Giver. At the heart of gratitude is the Giver of all good gifts:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. ~James 1:17
Here’s an activity that can help us focus on the Gift-giver! A week before last Thanksgiving, I gave each family member a decorated tag, and asked them to write a verse about an aspect of God’s nature that has been personally meaningful to them. Our girls were old enough to do this themselves, but you could also help younger children with this!
Then we used them to decorate each place setting at the Thanksgiving dinner table. After the meal, we each read our verse aloud and shared what it meant to us. It was neat to hear how different aspects of who God is stood out to each of us.
This created an opportunity for conversation about what we were thankful for and how we had seen God at work in our lives. And we could take the verse with us and tuck it somewhere as a reminder of who God is!
How will you remember the Gift-giver this Thanksgiving?