Deepen Christmas Joy in Your Family with Two Simple Words “Thank You!”
“Thank you” flies in the face of current cultural norms encouraging entitled attitudes and victim mentality. It squashes pride and invites healthy humility – and builds relational bridges. What’s more, it honors God and builds up the giver and recipient.
Offering those two words with abandon and from the heart can bring a new richness to your home. Empowering our kids with the habit of thankfulness creates a culture of gratitude that can have a lasting impact. Especially during this season of giving and receiving – you can deepen Christmas joy in your family with two simple words: “Thank you.”
It all starts with us, mama; we create the plans, manage the decorations, and set the tone of our family in many ways. Our kids mimic our attitudes and actions, so our sincere relationship with gratitude will create the pattern to follow. Here are a few ideas to turn your heart to thankfulness:
- Prioritize Thanks – Make it a daily habit to give thanks. Thank God, thank the people you encounter, and thank your kids and family when you gather for dinner. It could be as simple as thanking your child for putting away their clothes, washing the dog, helping decorate the tree, or clearing the dishes. A simple word of thanks encourages the recipient and allows the thanks giver to recognize personal and impactful everyday blessings.
- Journal Your Thanks – Some moms keep a gratitude journal to express their written thanks to God. Should you decide to journal your thanks, you’ll find that your book will quickly fill and sharpen your recognition of the many gifts flowing into and through your life. Looking back on the wealth of riches in years of noted blessings will be astounding to you- and could even become a treasured volume in your family for years to come.
- Prayers of Thanks – Carve out a few moments every day to thank the Lord for His hand in your life. On our worst days, there are so many things that God has done to bless us. These prayers of thanks can be even more crucial on particularly stressful days that try a mama’s soul!
Teach Gratitude to Your Kids
When you plant the idea of humble gratitude in the hearts of your children, you set them up for a lifetime of joy. It’s always easy to see the negative, the harsh realities, and the difficulties in day-to-day life- but when you can draw out the blessings from among the thorns, hope swells. We shared a blog with ideas to make Thanksgiving a year-round part of home life. There you’ll find even more ideas to consider– but here are some quick and easy ways to cultivate “thanks” in the hearts of your little ones.
- Family Thank-You-Culture – You probably already do this one. Insist that your child says thanks whenever appropriate. Christmas is the perfect time to slow down and offer heartfelt thanks. When your child opens a gift (or when you do), pause and encourage an expression of gratitude. Building a habit of faithfully thanking the people who deserve that gratitude will yield benefits for a lifetime.
- Thank You Notes – It used to be standard practice, though now it’s more of a rarity. Remember when we used to write a thank you note after receiving a gift? If you and your kids are up to it, penning a quick note to those who gave gifts can be a great way to pause and appreciate the giver and the generous thought behind the present.
- Counting to Ten with Thanks – While not necessarily tied to the holidays, this has been a practice my teens often use when life gets tough. When they have an awful day or feel overwhelmed by classes, circumstances, or relationships – they purposefully stop and count ten things they are thankful for. It helps them to recenter – reminding them that these moments are fleeting, and good things are happening too. They’ve latched on to the idea themselves, and I never even have to mention it anymore. They’ll use it as adults, too, which makes this mama’s heart very happy.
- Gratitude Tree – Find a central spot for a tabletop-sized tree and decorate it with thanks and blessings throughout the season. (This is spelled out in greater detail in this blog) One idea would be to have colorful paper and ribbon available all season long. Invite your kids to write something they are thankful for, tape the ribbon, and hang it on your gratitude tree. Then, let them add things throughout the holidays as they think of more blessings. If you have littles who don’t write yet, invite them to draw something they are thankful for. It will be a one-of-a-kind decoration laden with creative expressions of gratitude!
Give Forgotten Thanks
Christmas is a great time to stop and breathe. Reflect on people who have impacted your or your kids’ lives and make an effort to reach out with gratitude. It could be a former teacher from your childhood, now in a nursing home, or a doctor who helped your family through a medical emergency. Your kids might think of a Sunday school teacher or grandparent who took them fishing. Why not extend gratitude where it is due – or long overdue!
- Challenge each family member to come up with one person they want to thank. Make it someone from the recent – or distant past.
- Brainstorm how you’ll each express thanks. You could do it with a note, a gift card, a phone call, or a child’s drawing, but figure out the best way to show gratitude. Someone who impacted your life some time ago will be blessed to be remembered. You never know what they may be going through – and your well-timed gesture may do more than you expect!
Give Thanks to God
Christmas symbolizes the greatest gift ever given to mankind. Make sure your children know all about the Christmas story from the Bible. Tell stories, watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, or other cinematic tributes to the nativity. Give thanks to God as a family for this gift of life – Jesus’ birth. His coming brought eternal hope to all who believe. It can never be revoked by trouble, politics, or whims of culture.
Now, it’s our turn.
All of us at Moms for America want to say thanks.
We are grateful for you this Christmas, mamas. This year you have stood for our nation, and your families, with unparalleled patriotic fervor. In the middle of the culture war against family and our great founding, you’ve left your comfort zone and challenged yourselves in many ways. You’ve taught your children about our blessed country, instilling love and patriotism in young hearts. You’ve spoken out at school board meetings – and run for office.
Your efforts to preserve our freedom and birthright as citizens are the heart of Moms for America. We would not be here without you.
We thank you.