“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1
In our new home in the very temperate southeastern United States, I am missing the customary seasonal cues for fall that the far north and high mountains offer. Here, roses in bloom in my garden, only some of the deciduous trees have changed color or lost their leaves, and last weekend was so warm, the pool looked inviting. Yet, we are in November!
Post-Halloween, I do find my mind and heart eager to return to an annual gratitude practice from Ann Voskamp that we’ve enjoyed as a family the last few years: the Thanksgiving Tree. The template I found has a leaf for each day in November with a Scripture of thanksgiving. And there are SO many invitations, commandments and encouragements to GIVE THANKS in the Scriptures–from the days of the Israelites, the prophets, the psalms and all throughout the New Testament. The Thanksgiving tree offers an opportunity to pause and name something that we are thankful for, too, by adding that on the back of the printed leaves.
It’s a tradition that we’ve done now on 2 different continents and in 3 different states. In addition to being a valuable annual practice of gratitude, it connects us to the other years and places we’ve given thanks in this way, reminding us of God’s faithful and unique provisions for us now and in seasons past. In a sense, the tree grows fuller every year as our gratitude grows. Yet, the tree is also an invitation to give thanks for the hard parts of our lives. As the apostle Paul urged the Thessalonians: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). In a new place, far from family, wrestling with some unexpected changes, we are still to give thanks. The Thanksgiving Tree is a daily opportunity to do just that.
Insight & Inspiration:
“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9
“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20
Invitation: What are some ways you can practice gratitude as a family? How can Scripture help you do so?