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Posted on 19. November 2012

Giving Thanks

By Tammie Allegro

It always seems like that last three months of the year fly by. Maybe it's because Christmas items are already on sale before the last trick-or-treating kids have received their candy. Not to mention the mad planning for Black Friday shopping. It seems we practically skip right over the month of November and the Thanksgiving holiday. I recently saw a comic that had a Thanksgiving turkey telling Santa to wait his turn. Although it was just a comic, it really struck a chord with me. I realized I didn't want to rush through this month. I want to make sure that my family and I remember what it is all about. Yes, we celebrate Thanksgiving, but do we really show our appreciation for our blessings?

With the wonders of Facebook, several of our friends having been posting each day what they are thankful for. I think it is great, and I even jumped on the bandwagon. But somehow, just saying each day what I am thankful for doesn't feel genuine enough. It also doesn't teach the lesson at home. So, I began asking myself how I could instill my family with a stronger sense of gratitude for the life that we have been blessed with, from the triumphs to the tragedies and everything in between. I did a little research to see how other people teach gratitude in their homes, and I found some great ideas that I thought I would share:

Make a gratitude tree

  • Start with a picture of a tree. It can be small and sit on your table, or you can make it bigger and put it on a wall in your home. Each day, every member in your family writes one thing they are thankful for on a paper leaf. On Thanksgiving, the family reads them after dinner.
  • Encourage your family to include struggles and things that are not material (i.e., an iPod).


  • Write daily in a journal, always starting with what you are thankful for. Share these at Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Help family members to recognize the tough times in life as things to be grateful for.

Say "thank you" to your children

  • Sounds simple enough I am sure. However, we forget to thank our children for the simple things. If an older child sees you thanking their little brother for washing his hands without being told, they will be more inclined to say thank you for things you do for them. Our children mimic our actions and will learn to say thank you by our example.

Volunteer to serve the less fortunate

  • Many foundations serve meals on Thanksgiving and throughout the year. Volunteering to serve meals or to help prepare the meals teaches all of us to appreciate the blessings we have.
  • If going out and serving isn't possible, you can write letters to our active military.
  • You can also adopt a family during the holidays. Many military families will be away from their families during the holidays. Or their spouse might be deployed, and they won't have family nearby to spend the holidays with.

Donate used toys and clothes

  • Each year, before your children's birthdays and Christmas, go through their clothes and toys and find items they can donate. This helps keep down the clutter, as well as teaches them to give to those in need.

Just say no

  • The more we give our children, the more they expect. Saying "no" teaches them that not everything in life comes easy.
  • Teach kids to earn things that they want - especially big-ticket items that will break the bank.
  • Educate your children when they say things like "But it's only …" and "I need it." Teach them the value of the dollar.

It is so important for everyone in life to appreciate what they have; even if that means appreciating lessons learned from an illness or a financial struggle. Every event that happens in our lives shapes us into the people we are meant to be. People who are strong are only strong because they have endured much and gotten through it. There is a great quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that reads: Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.

How do you teach gratitude? What are you grateful for?


Comments (5) -

Mary Ann Crain
5:40 PM on Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My immediate family has 4 people with PID. Myself, my two children,and my grandson. Last year in January,2012, I had my daughter and grandson camping out in the family room with pneumonia. My son had a severe case of bronchitis at the same time and was camping out there as well. This was following my son and daughter both having shingles. My grandson had pneumonia again in February, 2012. Yes there are many trials, also many joys. We get through the tough times together and celebrate the blessings. My daughter got married in April, her health has improved substantially since then and is now expecting.I am grateful my blessings.

7:36 AM on Thursday, November 29, 2012

Great ideas! I too wanted to make a bigger deal of Thanksgiving and the spirit behind this unique holiday. We decided to place a Thanksgiving book on our entry table for guests and family to sign, telling about what they are thankful for. Kindof like a guest book, that will be there all year round not just for the holiday times. We just need to remember to tell our friends and family to sign it!

Linda Thornrose
1:07 PM on Sunday, December 09, 2012

Something I do that may seem silly is leave little notes for my husband and mother...nothing special, just that I love them, or thanking them for something, recognizing something they did that did not go unnoticed, etc.  Sometimes I even get a note back!  Sort of fun.  Don't know if they care one way or another, but it makes me feel good and I think that is a plus.  I love the ideas you shared.  It is fun to be creative in keeping an attitude of gratitude...and yes, it does make us feel better!  I have been very sick for three weeks, a bug that immediately went into bronchitis and sinus infection that just won't let go!  But, I know it will pass and I will eventually have a 'good' day again!  It is good to have this forum to share our blessings and challenges...keeps me feeling less isolated with chronic illness.  God bless and Merry Christmas!

8:05 PM on Thursday, December 13, 2012

I have CIDP and 3 other Autoimmune diseases, therefore I am always in pain.  My husband and I try to go out to dinner one-two times per week. Our children are grown and he realizes the pain I am in. He's been my rock. My 2 oldest children don't want to accept what has happened, meantime my youngest and my husband pick up the pieces.  I am thankful that God has given me this wonderful man and my youngest son.  Be greatful to the "rock" you have in your life.  

Linda Thornrose
12:08 PM on Monday, December 17, 2012

Amen, Christine!  I, too, am thankful for my husband.  My son has just moved back to Florida and lives near us again and is available to help if we need him, thank God.  There truly are more blessings to be thankful for than there are problems, though sometimes it is harder than others.  I have been sick with bronchitis and pneumonia from a bug I picked up on Thanksgiving.  After one week of levaquin 500 mg, and five days of 40 mg prednisone, I continued to get sicker.  After two weeks, I was wheezing so badly I could hardly breathe, so the doctor put me on a seven day waning dose of prednisone which eventually helped.  Then I went to the doctor after three weeks, and he put me on 750 mg. levaquin (last Thursday) and I think I am finally improving, thank God!  In all of that, my husband was here to support me and my Mom (who was sick with bronchitis for eight days)and help.  He and our son took us out to dinner and a movie (though I really didn't feel up to it, but didn't want to disappoint their happy plans for me)on Friday to celebrate my 65th birthday!  I am so grateful for my many blessings.  I went to see the children's special Christmas program at church last night and it was precious.  God bless you Christine.  May you have a healthy Christmas and new year.

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