My family and I started a new Thanksgiving holiday tradition this year. I came across this idea for this new tradition at Family Life Today (check out additional information in the show notes here).
For us, this new tradition started on Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving day. I shared with the family the details of this new tradition in order to give them time to mentally prepare for the exercise we would enjoy on Thanksgiving day. Our new tradition is a family breakfast on the morning of Thanksgiving. We do breakfast because we later meet other extended family for our lunch meal that leads into grazing throughout the afternoon. During our family breakfast, each person will read from an already prepared list of 5 items for which they are thankful.
We went around the table sharing one item at a time. As each person shared an item from their list, they were required to also explain why they were thankful for that item. It was nice to have breakfast around the table with my family (typically we only get to do this at dinner time, and then only a couple times a week). But more than having breakfast around the table, it was wonderful to see our children give real consideration to things for which they are grateful. As we finished breakfast, I collected the cards that contain our lists and will keep them in order that we can look back on them in the years to come.
I thought it would be good to share with you some of the items on our list, in no particular order. I’ll attempt to recall the explanation behind each item. I hope this provides the encouragement you need to start new and meaningful traditions with your family whether they be centered around a holiday or not.
Freedom was a common theme among our lists of things for which we are thankful. I am especially delighted that our young children seem to recognize the significance and importance of the freedom and liberties that we enjoy in the United States. Only one of our children has actually been outside the country, but even then she hasn’t really been exposed to a suppression that results in lack of freedom. Nonetheless, each of our children acknowledged that not everyone enjoys such freedoms and liberties. During explanations of why they were thankful for our freedom, our children acknowledged the sacrifice that has been required to established our freedoms and the sacrifice required to maintain them – they, of course, were referencing those of our military service.
Family was another common them among our lists. Now you tell me, how often you get to witness your teenage daughter express appreciation for her two younger brothers? And vise versa? During explanations, I had the pleasure to seeing everyone in our family express appreciation for the others. We try to be very intentional inside the family to express the love of Christ to one another. A goal of our family is to demonstrate the love of Christ to others by the manner in which we love one another as a family. This new tradition proves that, while we aren’t always perfect at showing it, our family really desires to love and appreciate each member of the family.
Yet another common theme among our list, albeit worded a bit differently in some cases – salvation, unconditional love of God, etc. Again, it’s difficult to express the delight that swells up inside a parent when you hear family members express gratitude for the security they have in salvation through grace by faith in Jesus. While acknowledging that we don’t deserve it and verbally expressing it to each other, we also were expressing sincere gratitude to Jesus for his incredible sacrifice in our stead. This also led into a great teachable moment as the conversation ran into the difference between mercy and grace. Mercy is not receiving what you deserve. Grace is receiving something you don’t deserve. We all agreed that through salvation in Jesus Christ, we have received both mercy and grace.
Ok, this one was difficult to summarize into a single word, so I used environment. Environment in this case is referencing our house, our church, the school our children attend, the provisions of food we enjoy, and the safety we enjoy in each of those setting. Again, this is first an acknowledgement that not everyone enjoys such luxuries. As parents that are doing all that we can to provide the best for our children, it is wonderful to see them freely and willingly express appreciation for these provisions.
I Am Persuaded
Now in real transparency I’ll state that this item only appeared on my list of items for which I am thankful. However, I thought it very appropriate to share this item here (for obvious reasons). God has placed in my heart a real passion to be the best possible spiritual leader of my family the He can make me. Additionally, God has given me a real desire to share the experience with other men in the hopes that others will better serve in the biblical role of spiritual leader of the family. Along with that desire, God has given me the platform (iampersuaded.com), the means (blogging, podcasting, preaching), and the knowledge needed to effectively share my passion with others. In addition to being thankful to God for his provisions in this ministry, I am extremely thankful for each person that will allocate the time to read or listen to the message here at iampersuaded.com.
There you have it, the details of the new Thanksgiving tradition in the Tanner family. Again, I hope it persuades you to establish new and meaningful traditions in your family. Share your family traditions and provide others with ideas in the comments below. What family traditions do you observe during Thanksgiving? What family traditions do your observe during other times of the year?