Everyday Thanksgiving

By April Purtell,

Every day should be Thanksgiving—not just one turkey-day a year. If you could see all the attitudes that dwell in your heart, what percentage would gratitude occupy? It’s a good cure for self-pity and self-absorption. It can help us overcome fears and worries. Stack your heart's shelves high with items that you are truly grateful for.

If you wish to teach your children to be thankful, most importantly model it for them. Give them opportunities to help, serve, and work—so that people will be thankful for them. Help them realize how much they have to be grateful for. And surprise them with joy by spontaneous gifts of experiences and things that are really special to them—perhaps that they’ve had to wait for.

Maybe twenty years ago the man who was my pastor then told a story to illustrate his sermon. I don’t remember the sermon at all, only the story. “Once upon a time, there was a young boy perhaps in third or fourth grade who was fairly lonely. His mates at school just didn’t seem too interested in being his friend. He was a little unusual, not too good at games, and had rather thick glasses. It was almost Valentine’s Day, and he was excited to prepare valentines for all his school mates which he worked on all week long. His mother sent him off to school on Valentine’s Day with a sickened heart. She couldn’t help but worry that he wouldn’t get any valentines in return. Apparently she didn’t know her son as well as she thought she did. All the way home late that afternoon, trudging through the multicolored, wet leaves, he kept saying to himself, ‘I didn’t forget anyone—not anyone,’ with a glorious smile on his face and in his heart. He didn’t seem to have noticed that he hadn’t gotten any.”

I want to be like that boy. Focused on serving others, rather than worrying about my own needs being met. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” [Philippians 4:6] Can anything sound better than a divine You’re Welcome . . .

Old Fashioned Holiday Game Ideas

Get Out the Board Games

Most of the following are board games you may have or cheaply find at places like Goodwill. I probably have 80+ games in a closet, and I’m always on the lookout for kids to play with. Try putting the electronics away (at least for a little while) and interacting on a face-to-face level. If your family is creative any of the following should also work.


On strips of paper or index cards, make up single word clues (maybe three to five) that all revolve around one idea, and put that main idea at the bottom. Make two matching clue cards. You’ll probably need at least 5 to 10 pairs of cards. One player gives clues to the rest of their team, while another player gives clues to their team. Both teams hear the clues. The first team to guess the main idea gets a point. You can make these center around the holidays, or just general. One example might be: stars, bells, reindeer, angels, balls: Christmas Ornaments. .


Again, make this holiday centered, or general. Write topics on small sheets of paper and put them in a container. One topic might be “Things to Do in the Cold.” The team that draws the topic has 1 to 2 minutes (decide which works better) and hollers out any ideas they have, such as skating, sledding, skiing, caroling, looking at lights. The other team keeps track by giving them points for each valid idea. (Unlike the original game where you only scored for matching the ten specific answers.)


Form two teams and separate into two rooms. Determine how many ideas each team needs to come up with (at least one per player or maybe two). These can be movies, books, or songs, e.g., Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, or We Three Kings. Team members act each one out for their team, while the other team tracks how long it takes them to guess—with a three-minute max. The team with the lowest score wins. If you have smaller children, write some that are easier to perform and keep them separated.

Sculpterama (good for smaller ones)

Write simple one-word clues—holiday words or not—on sheets of paper. Form two teams, and using Play Dough (or a similar substance) allow one member on each team to model the word. Give one point for each word guessed.


One person is named the leader and selects a commonly unknown word from the dictionary and writes the definition on a sheet of paper. Each player then writes a made-up definition on a sheet (scraps that look similar) of paper. These are all collected and the leader reads each one aloud. Then everyone guesses which is the real definition, and those that do earn one point. If other player’s definitions are chosen as real, they also earn a point for each time theirs was chosen.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Each person counts to three while moving their hand up and down. On the count of three, each one forms either a rock (fist), paper (flat hand), or scissors (second and third finger sticking out from a fist). Rock beats scissors, paper beats rock, and scissors beats paper. Kind of mindless, but it’s amazing how long kids can play this.

Flatter the Turkey

This makes an amusing way to get left- or right-handed compliments, and all ages can play equally. To start the game, have the oldest person in the room pay someone else a silly or real compliment. When they’re finished, the turn moves to the right, and so on around the room. It might help to have a small ball or stuffed animal to pass around as each takes a turn.

Alphabet Body

This game was invented by my youngest nephew. It’s a good way to keep the younger (and maybe older) kids busy before dinner (it might be dangerous after dinner). Using just your body—no props—turn yourself into each letter of the alphabet, working your way from A to Z. There is more than one way to make each letter, so encourage individuality. It’s also great exercise.


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