Have you ever noticed that there are two active components to the word “Thanksgiving”? One calls on us to be thankful and express our gratitude, and the other calls on us to be giving. On one hand, the Thanksgiving season is a time for counting our blessings. On the other, it’s a time to consider ways in which we can pay our blessings forward. The free printable chart below allows you to begin tracking both.
Place the printout into a clear plastic sleeve (the three ring binder type with the rings cut off). This allows it to be reused and written on with a dry erase marker. Other ways to make the printout reusable are to laminate, or frame it and write on the glass or plastic. Consider printing one for each member of the family, and then run a contest – who has the longest list of things they are thankful for? Who comes up with the most ideas for being giving, or ways they have shown an act of kindness in the past? Keep a writing implement close by with this little “cornucopia” holder:
Roll a piece of cardstock into a cone shape and tape it, then punch holes in opposite sides with a paper punch for tying a ribbon through so the cone can hang next to the chart. Craft stores also sell cone shapes that are a bit sturdier (and cuter I’m sure!) but this one does the job. Now click on the chart below to print yours!
Once lists are completed, start a discussion! Did anyone have similar ideas for ways to be more kind, giving, or helpful to others? Are there ways in which the family can actively implement these ideas? Life presents many opportunities for giving. Driving around in the car with my kids last year inspired ways to help the homeless. Questions like, “Why is that man sleeping on the ground” or “what is that person doing standing on the side of the street?” led to brainstorming ways we might be able to help. So I went in search of an idea a little more meaningful than leaving some spare change in a canister and came across the idea for “Blessings Bags” on the internet. It was a project we decided we wanted to do as a family. Here’s what we included in the bags:
Items: 1. Wet Wipes 2. Mint gum 3. lemonade flavor packets 4. band-aids 5 . cough drops 6. raisins 7. bottles of water 8. plastic spoons (for the fruit cups) 9. kleenex packets 10. mini snickers bars 11. mandarin oranges or other fruit cups 12. applesauce 13. peanut butter sandwich crackers 14. fruit snacks 15. granola bars 16. potato chips 17. combs and, gallon ziploc bags to pack everything in. Here they are, completed:
And have them in the car with you at all times, ready to go. Here’s an “up close” detail of an individual package below. It’s like handing someone a present and feels so good to give. In a pinch, having these bags inside the car has been a blessing to my own family. On outings that have turned unexpectedly long, leaving my kids cranky and hungry, I’ve had an emergency stash of goodies to choose from that contain enough variety to please everyone.
For a final “Pay it Forward” idea, give the movie by the same name to someone at Thanksgiving with a challenge for them to pass it on (and on, and on) to as many others as possible prior to Christmas. The movie instructs, “When someone does you a favor, don’t pay it back, pay it forward.” It has a PG-13 rating however, and is not intended for children. Send it along with some snacks to enjoy with the movie and see what happens!
I’d love to know what traditions you have during the holiday season that are along the lines of “Gratitude, Giving, & Paying Blessings Forward”. Please share in the comments below so that we may all benefit from a benevolent collection of ideas!