Thankful Chain, Thrifty Family Fun

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stripsPhoto Credit Blonde Designs

Thanks to Susan for passing along this wonderful idea!!!

I did something last year that will become an annual tradition for my family. It wasn’t my idea — I read about it on a blog somewhere and thought it was such a great idea. I don’t think I could find the link now, but hopefully I can describe it well enough.

Like many families, we’ve gotten caught up in the business and commercialism of Halloween and Christmas. It seems like stores go straight from one to the other, and Thanksgiving gets largely skipped over. Last year, I was a little unhappy with my child’s “gimme” phase that she seemed to be going through, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it until I saw that blog entry, with a simple but effective idea.

We created a “Thankful Chain” which was a simple paper chain made of strips of paper. Starting on November 1st and continuing each day until Thanksgiving, we wrote down on our paper strips one thing that we were thankful for, then glued the paper strip into loop on our chain. We kept the chain on our dining room table so that it was right in front of us every evening.

In effort to turn the “gimme” attitude into more of a “giving” attitude, I challenged my daughter and myself to come up with ideas to give back, either to each other, or to someone else we know, or even someone we don’t know, like a family in need or the troops overseas. We’d write those ideas on a little piece of paper and put it in a jar, then each Friday night (our designated “family night”) we’d each choose one or two of the activities — selecting the ones that we realistically could actually do — then follow through with the activity on the following weekend.

It really helped us to both sit back a little, think about all of the many blessings that we already have in our lives instead of all the things we want, and think about how we can help others. I was pleased with how well my daughter (then 8) really was able to look past herself once I made the effort to direct her that way. And I was touched to the point of tears at some of the things she wanted to do to help me, her often tired and stressed out Mom.

We’ll be doing something similar again this year, starting tonight. Goodbye Halloween, hello Thanksgiving.