Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the changing temperatures and the brighter mornings and earlier nights. I love the smells of fall, the crunch of the leaves and the taste of a baked apple. But, more than the temperatures or the foods or the holiday season just around the corner, I love that it the fall season is geared towards family. As the nights get darker earlier, we all naturally come in from our busy days just a touch earlier each night. It makes sit-down family dinners the norm and it calls for happy Saturday afternoons spent catching the last rays of warmth or spending hours sprawled out in the living room den crafting up homemade Christmas presents. Bottom line, I’m pretty much in love with the family aspect of fall. And as a part of that, when Thanksgiving finally comes within reach, there’s no better time than this to create activities that not only center around family, but center around thankfulness.
For soon, very, very soon, the holiday season of Christmas will be here. We’ll be dashing hither and thither and shopping madly and attending nightly gatherings for work and friends and finding ourselves altogether stretched too thin. So, before this hits, if you’ve got a family, why not relish these quite evenings and lazy weekend afternoons to bond together over something that reinforces just how much we truly have to be thankful for? If you could use some ideas to get your family started, here are five of my favorites:
Start a Family Journal
This is such an easy and simple idea but so rewarding. Pick out a journal for the family and make it a nightly pattern of writing in it. You can start as a family with everyone pitching in thoughts and one writer, which is my favorite thing to do in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. After that, I love to leave it open for whomever to write in and whenever they feel like it. Not only can you share wonderful time together telling stories and laughing and reminiscing, in the years to come you can read back over these together and be reminded all over again of how thankful you were then and how thankful you are now.
Decorate for Thanksgiving, with Thankful Thoughts
Save money this year and skip purchasing the traditional turkey and pumpkin décor. Try something completely different and make your Thanksgiving not centered on a theme of pilgrims, but on the real theme: thankfulness. Cover your dining room table with white tablecloth starting today and keep a jar of markers handy. Ask everyone to write down thankful thoughts as they come to them. Frame sheets of blank white paper for the same. Make an afternoon of crafting, in which everything you make somewhere, somehow, reflects a thankful thought. You’ll not only have a beautifully decorated home with crafts made out of love, you’ll have decorations you can save forever. And, next year, when you pull them out, you can make another afternoon of sorting through and reading about all that you were thankful for exactly 1 year ago.
There’s nothing quite like making you feel grateful for something when you’re exposed to what life would be like without it. Whether you volunteer at a homeless shelter or a food bank and are simply given the chance to be reminded of what you have for basic necessities or you pick up trash along the highway or volunteer to clean the town’s parks and are thankful for what others are already doing to make your life easier and cleaner, there’s almost no better way to make thankfulness hit your core and leave an impression that will last forever.
Thankful Nature Hike
Before the chilly winter days arrive, take the family out for a walk or hike through the nearest source of nature you have. Getting out of the home, out of the city and into nature is quite possibly my favorite way of putting things in perspective. Though you and your family may not have everything you wish you had or you may not feel thankful for many things in your life, a trip out into the overwhelming beauty of nature where nothing else matters will generally change your view. Every time you can say a thankful thought, grab a leaf. You’ll go home with a beautiful array of fall leaves and a flood of thankful thoughts attached to them, guaranteed. Dry them and frame them to keep the thoughts alive all year.
Thankful Letter Day
Another of my most favorite rainy day fall afternoon or evening activities is writing thankful letters. So often we only feel it’s necessary to write “thank you cards” for something specific when someone gives us a gift for a celebration or does something out of the ordinary. But, how wonderful it is to gather the whole family together, play some happy tunes, munch on some caramel corn and write thankful cards to people who we are truly thankful for. There’s almost nothing better than getting a handwritten card that tells how someone is thankful for you, especially when it’s out of the blue and completely unexpected.
Make each day a day to be thankful and have some fun while you’re at it! While it should be our goal all year long, at least this time of year helps us to remember to focus on this attitude. Bring the whole family in and enjoy each other. If nothing else, you certainly have that to be thankful for.
[About the author: Freelancer Jocelyn writes most often about family life and living natural, sustainable lifestyles. At the moment, she’s primarily writing electric fireplace heater content to encourage energy saving with small heaters in lieu of central home heating.]Image: Nick Saltmarsh at Flickr