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Create Thanksgiving Traditions of Giving Thanks: Teaching and Learning to Give Thanks this Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is a time when family comes together and people give thanks for the blessings in their lives. While giving thanks may seem simple, and for some people quite easy, coming up with creative ways to be thankful can help involve every member of the family and create new traditions at the same time.

Teaching Children How to Give Thanks

Some families will choose to use a standard method of giving thanks where each member of the family shares one thing he or she is thankful for. This is a great way to spark discussion and memory of the past year. Young children are taught how to participate as they hear examples of some things for which they can be thankful from their older family members.

Encouraging Family Members to Give Thanks

One creative way to encourage family members to give thanks is to have slips of paper and pens on the table for each person to write down one thing he or she is thankful for. This works well with older children as it encourages writing skills. At some point during the Thanksgiving meal, one person can be the designated reader and read each slip of paper, sharing all of the reasons family members have to be thankful. This is an especially useful tool for families with an extremely shy member who would prefer to not speak up in front of everyone.

Giving Thanks After a Loss

Thanksgiving can be a very difficult time for those who have experienced loss. It is vital that family and friends surround the person or persons with love and support during the holiday season. It is important that the grieving family members are allowed the space to be quiet as well as the freedom to speak. Following the cue of those who feel the loss most dearly, others can share fond memories and bring up some of the better times.

It is important to remember that it is okay to cry and that sometimes just being there is enough, making words unnecessary. Grieving during a holiday season is often more difficult, and even those who experienced a loss many months prior will feel the pain new and fresh during that first Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This holiday season families need to find ways to not only give thanks, but to help others give thanks as well. Teaching young children how to be thankful through example and providing ways for even shy family members to share are two ways to ensure every family member has a chance to give thanks. It is important to also remember to stand by and support those who have experienced a loss this thanksgiving and help them to give thanks for the good memories they have.

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