On the Shores Blog
4 Ways to Create a Culture of Thankfulness in Your Home
Thanksgiving is almost upon us and let’s be honest, it can sometimes be a bit crazy. The value of thankfulness can easily get lost in the panic of almost burning the pie and trying to remember not to say certain things around specific family members. Although it can be a struggle for all of us, thankfulness is an integral part of our faith and if it isn’t in the culture of our family, it likely won’t be lived out in the daily lives of our kids.
My parents, or the “rents” as I like to call them, really instilled thankfulness in me at a young age. Though they were not perfect and yes made many mistakes along the way, they really modeled what it meant to live a life of thankfulness and that has been a pillar value in my faith. I have learned that the enemy likes to whisper lies about who we are and make us discontent with our reality. Thankfulness is one of the most effective weapons that we use against those two things; it takes the spotlight off of us and places it on God and others.
During my university years, whenever I was in a really rough place, I would go on a “thankful walk” with God around campus. I would grab a hot chocolate, walk along the paths, and just start to thank God for who he was and what he had done in my life. Those walks would change my entire perspective. It took me out of my wallowing and reminded me who I was, whose I was, and how big He really is. I went on those walks because my parents created a culture of thankfulness in our house. In your homes you have an incredible opportunity to build a culture of thankfulness and so to help get the ideas flowing, here are 4 ways my parents tried do so in our family.
1. Model it Daily
Whenever we would go anywhere, any chance my parents had to express thanks to others they would take it. These were just simple things, like at restaurants modelling genuine appreciation and thanking the server, at the bank they would thank the tellers, and even at the dinner table they would thank each other for passing the peas. Thank you was a phrase we used often and it was a sign of respect and value for each other.
2. Writing Thank You Notes
My mom was incredible at this and she got it from her mom! If anyone gave us a gift, whether for anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, special events… anything; my mom would write them a thank you note. She would also encourage me to write thank you notes from as young as I can remember, but the thing that made it stick for me, was that she modeled it. It wasn’t something she told me to do and never did herself, she consistently made it a priority which rubbed off on me.
3. Thank You Gifts
Even though we didn’t have much, thanking people through not only words but gifts was a huge value in my family! If we were invited to a family’s house for dinner, especially if we had just met them, my mom would bring a small gift to thank them. When we would go on vacation and stay with friends, my mom would always bring a gift before hand all wrapped up nicely thanking our friends for letting us crash their place. Even when I was little I remember my mom would see if I wanted to help pick out the gift and I always wrote in the card. She had a whole cupboard dedicated to gifts to give people, and yes she had a couple re-gift items, but don’t tell her I told.
4. Thank You Prayers / Thank You Jar
One of my favorite traditions that we had was when we would open gifts. After every single gift we would pray for someone. Many times they would turn into thank you prayers, thanking God for the people in our lives. We would also have a thank you jar where we would write thank you prayers throughout the year and on New Year’s would open it up and read all the things we were thankful for last year. This was a great reminder of the ways that God had blessed us throughout our year.~ Karra Overholt
Karra is the Youth Director at Church on the Rock in Hamilton, Ontario. She graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University, double majoring in Adolescent Ministries and Leadership. Having spoken at youth retreats, summer camps and training seminars across Ontario, Karra has a passion for youth: guiding them to find their identity in Christ, training them to be leaders and helping them fall in love with the local church. She has traveled with her father, Dave Overholt, and has been immersed in youth ministry from a very young age, which fueled her love for this next generation.