POINTS TO PONDER:
- How good am I at being grateful when things go WRONG?
- What can I do to improve this in my own life, and in my family?
- "Recently, Sister Nelson and I enjoyed the beauty of tropical fish in a small private aquarium. Fish with vivid colors and of a variety of shapes and sizes darted back and forth. I asked the attendant nearby, “Who provides food for these beautiful fish?” She responded, “I do.” Then I asked, “Have they ever thanked you?” She replied, “Not yet!” I thought of some people I know who are just as oblivious to their Creator and their true “bread of life.” They live from day to day without an awareness of God and His goodness unto them. How much better it would be if all could be more aware of God’s providence and love and express that gratitude to Him."
- "Anyone who studies the workings of the human body has surely "seen God moving in his majesty and power"...Yet some people erroneously think that these marvelous physical attributes happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere. Ask yourself, "Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?" The likelihood is most remote. But if so, it could never heal its own torn pages or reproduce its own newer editions!"
- "The attributes by which we shall be judged one day are all spiritual. These include love, virtue, integrity, compassion, and service to others. Your spirit, coupled with and housed in your body, is able to develop and manifest these attributes in ways that are vital to your eternal progression...God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but we are not. Each day, ours is the challenge to access the power of the Atonement so that we can truly change, become more Christlike, and qualify for the gift of exaltation and live eternally with God, Jesus Christ, and our families. For these powers, privileges, and gospel gifts, thanks be to God!"
- "Children All Over the World"
- "For Health and Strength"
- "My Heavenly Father Loves Me"
- "Can a Little Child Like Me?"
- "I Thank Thee, Dear Father"
- Tell the children, "Look around the room and find all the things you can that are purple." After they had a few minutes to do so, she had them close their eyes. Then she said, "Okay, now tell me all the things you saw that were yellow."And they couldn't do it. That's because they had focused so intently on the purple that they didn't even notice the yellow things." You can see the application to contentment and gratitude. When we focus on what we don't have, pretty soon that's all we can see, so we become discontented, and whiny, and unsatisfied. But when we focus on our many amazing blessings, we become more and more aware of them, and thus more and more content and humble and grateful. And I might add, happier. And more peaceful." (Mary Ellen Edmunds, You Can Never Get Enough of What You Don't Need, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005], p. 153.)
- Display an empty cup, a spoon, and a container of water. Ask the children to think of the many blessings Heavenly Father has given them, and explain that each time they name a blessing they may take a spoonful of water from the container and put it into the cup. Place the cup and the container of water in the pan or dish to catch spills, and place the pan or dish on a flat surface such as the table or floor. Have the children take turns naming blessings and putting spoonfuls of water in the cup until the cup is filled to overflowing. Explain that Heavenly Father loves us and has given us many blessings. When we think of these blessings, we are thankful and filled with love for Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father has given us so many blessings that we can overflow with love, just like the cup overflowed with water. (Read Psalms 23:5)
- Explain that being ungrateful for the Savior's sacrifice or refusing to accept the love of the Savior or his forgiveness in our lives is like if you spent months choosing the perfect birthday gift for person you love the most. You had sold everything you owned to purchase this special gift. Then, when it came time to give the gift, which you had wrapped in the most costly and beautiful wrapping you could find, the receiver simply looked at your package and said, "no thanks" without even opening it. The thought of how that would feel reminds me everyday to thank my Heavenly Father for the sacrifice of the Savior and recognize His hand in all the blessing I receive in this life and the blessings I will receive in the life to come. (Credit Unknown)
GAMES & LEARNING ACTIVITIES:
- We feel it is important for our family to visualize the many things we are grateful for. A simple activity that helps us to remember our blessings is called “the gratitude web.” One person holds a ball of yarn or string and identifies one thing for which he is thankful. Holding onto part of the yarn, he then tosses the yarn ball to someone else in the circle. That person then repeats the process, also holding onto a portion of the yarn. The activity continues until everyone has had at least one turn. Depending on the size of your family, you may want to play several times until a web is formed, connecting the group. ~Kristen W. Belcher
- Play “alphabetical gratitude.” Go around the room and have each person say something he is grateful for. The first person names something that starts with the letter a, and the next person names something beginning with the letter b. Continue around the room as many times as necessary until the entire alphabet is complete.
- For older children/youth: read D&C 59:16-22 together and discuss. Create a list (from that scripture passage as well as just from your own experiences) of things each of us can ALWAYS be grateful for. If they don't mention something that is in Elder Nelson's talk, read that passage together.
- Write thank-you notes (can attach treats or small gifts if you want, but not necessary) to neighbors, teachers, Church leaders, etc. Talk about how much MORE we ought to thank our Heavenly Father, not only in words but in our actions.
- Make one of the gratitude-themed crafts below as a family. :)
- In a primary lesson, children are challenged to find ways to SHOW their gratitude for specific blessings in different scenarios, not just tell but SHOW. Scroll down HERE 'til you get to the heading "WE CAN SHOW OUR GRATITUDE THROUGH OUR ACTIONS"
HANDOUTS & FREEBIES:
- There's a very cute handout HERE about gratitude--both feeling and expressing it. :)
- I have a generic 2"x6" bookmark about giving thanks HERE--the idea is that people can write in the journaling spaces what they're grateful for--you could laminate them and use dry-erase markers if you want. I also have another bookmark using Elder Nelson's quote about the tropical fish HERE. It's a 4"x6" handout, so you could use it as a postcard if you wanted, too. :)
- There are a TON of coloring pages and games about gratitude, taken from the Friend, HERE.
CRAFTS & MORE:
- You could create a family gratitude jar, adding to it all year and reading them together on Thanksgiving Day or New Year's Eve.
- You could make gratitude journals to be filled out each evening or on Sundays (even the little kiddos can draw a picture and have parents label them). Encourage gratitude for the LITTLE things just as much as the big things!
- Make a (paper) quilt with small white squares; each family member gets to draw on several squares, tape or staple them together and display somewhere for the week! (Or, you could make a paper chain instead.)
- I know it's not Thanksgiving, but you could make a thankful tree like THIS one, anyway. :)
- How about something simple--a frame and paper/dry erase markers or chalkboard paint make this cute Gratitude memo board interactive fun for the whole family.
- Anything you normally serve only on Thanksgiving would be appropriate here...especially being about midway through the year. :) That means cute little turkey-shaped treats, pumpkin or other pies, your special cranberry sauce...all those things you get a craving for. :)
- Make hand-shaped sandwiches, melon slices, or cookies. Before kids can eat them, they must hold up their fingers and name 5 things (one for each finger) that they are grateful for.