It’s that time of year when showing gratitude and giving thanks is on the top of everyone’s minds. Many times, Thanksgiving encourages us to think about the special things in our lives and express gratitude for them. It’s a favorite holiday for many, as they’re surrounded by loved ones and reminded of all that they have to be grateful for.
Whether you’re in a season of hope or one of challenges, remember that you have been given “every spiritual blessing in Christ,” in the words of Ephesians 1:3. Despite whatever challenges you’re facing during your adoption journey, you can have an attitude of thankfulness.
The heart of Thanksgiving is expressing your gratitude. But in the midst of all the Thanksgiving meal prep and the tryptophan naps, it can be hard to figure out how to make time for that! Here are 8 creative ideas to refocus the thankful season and show gratitude:
1. Leave a small gift in a public spot
Perform a random act of kindness and turn someone’s day around by leaving a small gift in a public place! For example, you can brighten a stranger’s day by leaving a Starbucks gift card at the popular coffee chain. Or, you could leave a scarf or jacket downtown for someone who needs an extra layer.
2. Put messages of gratitude in your Thanksgiving dinner rolls
Using dough made from scratch or crescent rolls purchased from the store, put a single folded note in the center of the raw dough. Your note can include a message of gratitude, such as “I’m thankful for my family” or “I’m thankful for my future child’s birth mother.”
Roll up the dough, being careful and making sure not to crush the note. Bake your rolls as the instructions dictate.
When your Thanksgiving dinner guests pull apart their roll, they’ll discover a sweet note of gratitude. (Just make sure not to accidentally eat it!)
3. Adorn a wall in your home with a “Thankful Tree”
Cut a roll of white project paper or freezer paper into strips. Paint each strip (or use a Sharpie marker) so that each strip looks like a tree trunk. Cut paper leaves from colored construction paper.
When neighbors, friends, and family visit, request that they can write what they’re thankful for on a leaf. Each person adds their leaf to your tree trunk, creating a Thankful Tree!
4. Show gratitude to your neighbors by bringing Thanksgiving treats.
Create Thanksgiving treat bags for your neighbors, adorned with a themed note card to share a special Thanksgiving thank you. Check out these adorable Thanksgiving gift tag printables from “She Wears Many Hats!”
5. Decorate a pumpkin with messages of gratitude
Purchase a white pumpkin from your favorite pumpkin patch, or a local grocery store. If you can’t find any white pumpkins, just paint an orange one with acrylic paint.
Set out Sharpies and ask your Thanksgiving dinner guest to write thankful messages on it.
6. Create a decorated thankful walnut
Give your Thanksgiving dinner guests a decorated walnut with a special message of gratitude inside. You might include a Bible verse, such as 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
To create a Decorated Thankful Walnut, carefully crack open a walnut and empty the inside. Using a hot glue gun, attach a string. Paint the outside of each walnut with acrylic paint. Then, place a note for inside and re-seal the shell using a small amount of hot glue.
7. Create a thankful book
Have each of your dinner guests write what they’re thankful for on a note card. Take a quick photo of them to add with their card later. Then, you can assemble the cards into a book which will be added to each year!
8. Make a “Thankful Countdown Calendar”
This idea is inspired by advent calendars! Begin creating your Thankful Countdown Calendar by cutting the tops off of small manila envelopes. Next, write a number for each day leading up to Thanksgiving. Hang the envelopes on a string using clips or clothespins. Each day, you both write down something you’re thankful for and slip it into the envelope.
Have a Heart Focused on Gratitude
Lifetime’s founder, Mardie Caldwell, often reflects on how a heart focused on gratitude was one of the things that pulled her through several miscarriages, infertility, and waiting to adopt. This time of year can certainly be a mixed experience for many. Whether you’re celebrating a victory, mourning a loss, or wading through a time of transition or waiting, there is always something to give thanks for.
Giving thanks when life is going as you’ve expected or hoped is easier than in those seasons when you wonder what’s ahead or why you’re moving through a difficult time. There is something so validating and uplifting about giving thanks in the more challenging seasons. Expressing gratitude lifts the spirit, lightens the heart, and helps to reset our focus on what’s working in this very moment.
Romans 12:9 says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; CLING to what is GOOD.”
Giving thanks doesn’t have to mean you’re grateful for difficult circumstances. You can give thanks for the GOOD in your situation, even if that’s simply the fact that you’ve made it this far. Every situation brings opportunities to receive help, show love, notice the little things, and recognize our own strength. Cling to the blessings that happen along the way—cling to what is happening now to move you forward.
As we celebrate Lifetime’s nearly four decades of bringing hopeful families and birth mothers together through open adoption, we give thanks for the opportunity to be there for those in need of an answer, direction, a comforting word, or a listening ear. We celebrate the many generous donors who sent blessings to help birth mothers, the adoptive families, and birth mothers who came together through open adoption, and the beautiful babies and children placed into loving adoptive homes.
From all of us, we wish you Thanksgiving blessings as you gather with friends or family! Lifetime will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 23rd, and Friday, November 24th. We remain available 24/7 to women researching or moving through an adoption plan and to Lifetime’s adoptive families with an important update or question regarding their current adoption match: 1-800-923-6784.
We pray for your safe travels and memorable moments spent with family and friends. Many blessings to you from all of us at Lifetime Adoption!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on November 20, 2018, and has since been updated.
Heidi Keefer is a Content Creator for Lifetime Adoption and has 15 years of experience in the field of adoption. An author of thousands of blog posts over the years, Heidi enjoys finding new ways to educate and captivate Lifetime’s ever-growing list of subscribers.
Heidi has a keen eye for misplaced apostrophes, comma splices, and well-turned sentences, which she has put to good use as a contributor to Lifetime’s award-winning blogs. She has written and published hundreds of adoption articles which explore the various facets of domestic infant adoption today.