The Grateful Chain – Thanksgiving

November and the Thanksgiving season are a perfect time of year to make a family grateful chain. Encouraging our children (and ourselves!) to express gratitude is an essential part of family life. Build gratitude into each day!

By Caryl W. Krueger

Categories: Family, Gratitude

Sometimes in home life there is more complaining than giving gratitude. A poem by Vivian Burnett (also used as a hymn) speaks of this unfortunate habit by saying "Our gratitude is riches, Complaint is poverty,...." So, as parents, we should be helping our children gather the riches of gratitude, and thus cut down on the complaints. In fact, it's a beneficial approach to adopt as parents as much as for our children!

November is an ideal time to emphasize giving thanks. You can do it by creating a Grateful Chain. This month-long project is simple and fun to do. All you need is paper strips about 3 inches wide and 8 inches long. Any color paper will do; you might choose fall colors such as pumpkin orange and corn gold if you want it to be in keeping with the season.

At dinnertime, place the strips of paper, pencils, and a stapler, glue or scotch tape on the table. Everyone will be curious. Then, introduce your theme with these quotations:

  • "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord." Psalm 92:1
  • ".....make known his deeds among the people." Psalm 105:1

You will then explain that, since it is "a good thing to give thanks," that is exactly what they are going to do. Each family member then takes a strip of paper and writes something he is grateful for. This could be related to the family, pets, relatives, sports, school, club activities, home, travel, etc. You may have to give an example to get things started. At this point, decide if the family wants to share their "gratefuls" now, or on Thanksgiving Day - or never! Each strip is then made into a circle and fastened shut with the message on the outside, linking it to the next circle, thereby making a chain.

Find a place where the chain can grow as the family (and visiting friends) add to it each day. Hang it from a lighting fixture, up a stairway rail, across the ceiling. And watch it grow. You may find that some youngsters are shy about sharing their "gratefuls" while others are eager. It doesn't matter. And, you may have to help pre-schoolers write theirs. Don't forget, this is not a spelling lesson.

For your own "gratefuls," you'll probably express appreciation to God for His goodness, for your family, home, church, community, country, and special achievements. However, there are occasions when a particular "grateful", shared out loud by you, will be helpful. Here you can rely on the words of the Bible. As we know, both Daniel and Jesus expressed their gratitude even before the challenge faced was harmonized. (For example, Jesus thanked God before he called the dead Lazarus from the tomb.) So, here are some possibilities for you to use when needed:

  • When a family member is sad:
    "Thou has turned for me my mourning into dancing.....I will give thanks unto thee for ever." Psalms 30: 11, 12
  • When talking about grandparents:
    "We thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations." Psalm 79:13
  • If a youngster is afraid in the night:
    "At midnight I will rise and give thanks unto thee....." Psalm 119:62
  • When fears arise:
    "Save us, O God of our salvation and gather us together....O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good:" I Chronicles 16:34, 35
  • If a family member is endeavoring to achieve something special:
    "Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ." II Corinthians 2:14
  • If too much emphasis is placed on material things:
    "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." II Corinthians 9:15
  • To reassure children that you are doing as Paul did:
    "I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers." Philemon 1:4
  • To feel a part of all humankind:
    "I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world." Romans 1:8
  • When a youngster needs to know, as Daniel did, that God gives wisdom:
    "I thank thee....who hast given me wisdom and might....." Daniel 2:23

After your "grateful" sessions each evening, why not give a resounding "Hallelujah," since it says in Ezra 3:11:

"And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord...And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord."

Hallelujah! Let your family's grateful chain start growing tonight.