I’ve always been amazed how the day is glossed over. Sandwiched between the picked-over shelves of leftover costumes and candy no one will ever eat and the jingle bells of Christmas trees, Thanksgiving receives absolutely no fanfare. If retail stores are the gauge for society’s interests, then the day wouldn’t even exist.

And that is the message for adults. Imagine what our children are absorbing! I am not anti-Halloween, and if retailers want to put up Christmas decorations after taking down Back-to-School supplies, so be it. What worries me as a momma is the question: when do we promote thankfulness?

I know from firsthand experience how joy–even in the midst of life’s darkest struggles–is often the direct result of a thankful heart. This type of gratitude is one that requires daily nurturing and sometimes requires a little unconventional thinking. One of the times when I was most thankful actually took me and all those present by surprise.

The moment, unscripted, was my own private pouring out of my heart, even though there were thousands watching. I had just walked down the middle of our school’s gymnasium floor following a flag-draped casket holding one of my most precious treasures, my 12-year-old son. As “How Great is Our God” was performed by the worship band, I remember a flood of peace washing over me. No one in that room was a lucky as I was–God had called me to be Reed’s momma. In a simple act of praise, I raised my hands as the band played on and thanked God over and over for having the chance to be Reed’s mom. Even in the darkest of valleys, thankfulness can illuminate a path to the God who cradles us.

Being thankful in the big moments is easy, but having gratitude in the little stuff is often like Thanksgiving is in retail stores: forgotten. Many would be surprised at the things I thank God for: Found that paper we have been searching for high and low! Thank you, Lord! The birds sang on my walk this morning! Thank you for the playlist, God.

I do not get everything “right” as a parent, and often I fail in many ways. My desire is for my children to absorb gratitude as a habit and celebrate it as a tradition.

As my family is preparing for a gathering of family from around the country on Thanksgiving Day, I stumbled across a wonderful memory from years gone by. Working as a middle school teacher in a town thirty miles away from home made preschool not an option for our second son. Rather than focusing on what could not be, we made lemonade. One afternoon a week, we had “homeschool preschool,” choosing a different topic monthly. Thankfulness was our November theme. Although our project hasn’t been used every year, we have utilized our “What we are thankful for” journal at the Thanksgiving Day dinner table.

It has been a precious record of what those in attendance are grateful for in their lives. Pulling it out of its storage container, I was blown away by this page.

Thankful Journal 2

Tears fell as I read the words. It was precious writing by the boy whom I was so thankful to be chosen as his momma! And the boy without a preschool, now a college freshman, has been the keeper of reminding us every year to count our blessings.

I am looking forward to reading each person’s entry this year. The small journal serves as a large reminder “to taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

May we always remember this with a grateful heart!

Simple DIY Thankful Journal for Families

This journal can be as simple or as elaborate as you desire. These are the steps we took to create ours.  We used felt to create our cover, but a coloring page or cut-outs of paper would work great too!

8 x 8 (we cut ours) white cardstock paper

1 8-inch square of cardboard

Various scraps/pieces of felt material

Coloring book/computer graphic template for turkey and leaf cut-outs

Cross-stitch thread or markers for creating journal title.

Hole punch


Craft glue

  1. Cover the cardboard square with felt.
  2. Punch holes in cover and cardstock.
  3. Simple stitch a title onto a piece of felt (or use markers).
  4. Cut felt into desired shapes for the cover.
  5. Glue felt pieces onto covered cardboard.
  6. String yarn through the holes of the paper and cover to create a simple book.
  7. Have each family member record what they are thankful for each Thanksgiving.