In August, we celebrate me and my husband’s birthdays. Then in September, it’s my daughter’s birthday. And last week, at the end of October, we celebrated my son’s first birthday. Needless to say, it’s been all birthdays, all the time for the last several months.
Now that the birthdays are over, it seems that my daughter has jumped right into Christmas. I really don’t know how this has happened. My husband and I have mentioned Christmas maybe once or twice, but she has been talking about Santa and presents multiple times a day for the last several days!
I love Christmas. I think that Christmas with children is almost better than Christmas as a child! Seeing your child light up over the lights and the music, the family get-togethers, the traditions, the snow, and of course, the presents, there is just nothing more exciting than seeing Christmas through the eyes of your very own child. I also, don’t generally have too much of a problem with Christmas starting early. I love Christmas music, so I’m not going to concern myself if the stores start playing it two weeks ago. It is all considered the Holiday season to me, so let’s just jump in with both feet.
However, like I told my daughter the other day after her third mention of Santa in one afternoon, before we start focusing on gifts, we need to take some time to be thankful for what we already have! As much as I love Christmas, I really love Thanksgiving too. It is such a peaceful Holiday, there isn’t the stress of presents, there aren’t a million Holiday parties to attend. It’s just a day to relax with family and be thankful. But gratitude is not something that should be reserved for one day. Gratitude is a life style, which is why I’ve enjoyed spending all of the month of November focusing on things I’m thankful for in recent years. With all of my daughter’s focus on Christmas and Santa, it was kind of a wake up call that I need to teach her to live a life of gratitude as well. So, we have made a Thanksgiving tree!
Now, stick with me for a minute. I know what you’re thinking…”I’m a working mom, I don’t have time to be a Pinterest worthy mom too!” I get it, I feel the same way. But this is a very simple activity, it doesn’t take much time (especially once it’s setup), but I think it can really help instill an attitude of thankfulness in our kids. Taking the focus off of the wants and wishes and lists of Christmas and refocusing on the blessings that we already have. My daughter is four and it was hard for me to even explain to her what it means to be thankful! But I think this simple activity will really start to help her understand. You should join us and make your own Thanksgiving Tree! Here’s what we did:
- Grab some brown construction paper and cut into the shape of a bare tree. I’m not posting a photo of what my bare tree looks like because it’s kind of hideous. The point is not to make a work of art, the point is thankfulness. Don’t try to be perfect. You need a stump and some branches to stick your “leaves” on.
- Grab several sheets of random colored construction paper. I let my daughter pick our colors, so that’s why we have purple, blue, and pink fall leaves. Again, make it fun and don’t aim for perfection. Cut the construction paper into halves or quarters (slightly bigger than your kid’s hand size).
- Trace your child’s hand on one of the pieces of colored paper. Stack all of the colored paper (or several sheets) and cut out the hand. The point here is to cut several hands at once so you’re not spending hours cutting. We made 20 hands (leaves) for our tree. As I’ve mentioned before, we’re not great at doing anything every single day, so I cut enough so that we can have one hand/leaf for most days between now and Thanksgiving. Alternatively, if you aren’t a fan of “hand” leaves, you can just cut out regular leaf shapes.
- Tape your brown tree to a wall or door (we aren’t huge on decor in our home so ours is in the living room on the coat closet, you can hang yours in your child’s bedroom if decor is more important to you). Tape your leaves on the branches of your tree.
- Each day, each time you think about, once a week…whatever works for your family, take one of the leaves off the tree and have your child write (or for younger kids, you write) one or more things that they are thankful for. Then hang the leaf near the bottom of the tree. On or near Thanksgiving, your tree should be bare (which means my pitiful tree will be visible) and all the leaves will have “fallen off the tree” and there will be lots of thankfulness in your hearts. 🙂
I promise that the setup outlined above took me no longer than 30 minutes, and that was with lots of “help” from both of my kids (slowing me down – but kid involvement is kind of the point!). And the daily writing on the leaves should take all of 2 minutes. This is totally doable. Anyone can find the time for a two minute talk with their kid on thankfulness every day or so. But, if it all feels like too much, or you’re too afraid of your poor crafting abilities (I get it, I am no artist), then maybe you could make a running gratitude list with your kids, or something to shift the focus away from rushing into Christmas and on to living with gratitude.
And I’m totally gonna brag on this one. This morning, my daughter and I took our first leaf down to write on. When I asked her what she was thankful for, she quickly responded, “God!” Ah yes, we must be doing something right. 🙂
What kinds of things are you doing to help your kids learn to be thankful for the blessings that they have?