Give Thanks and Make a Thankful Tree for Thanksgiving
I love Thanksgiving. Perhaps because it has retained the simple value of family and giving thanks. Of course, I say the same thing about Christmas after Thanksgiving is over. For today, I’m encouraging you to give thanks and make a thankful tree for Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is a time for traditions and one of those can be making a Thankful, or Thanksgiving, Tree. This year, I am using a small tree I already have. I bought it a few years ago at Craft Warehouse and it is perfect for every season. This year, when our family gathers for the annual Thanksgiving Dinner, I will have each person write on the Thanksgiving Party Leaves I bought. Then I will hang them on the tree as a memory for this year.
Family traditions are important
While it may seem corny to write down what you are thankful for, it is also quite meaningful. Being thankful and grateful are godly traits we need to practice and encourage all year but, this is the perfect season to start.
The Rich History of Thanksgiving
The traditions of Thanksgiving are totally American having been started by our founding Fathers and Mothers who celebrated and gave thanks. Here is a quote from History.com about how the holiday came to be:
“Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2019 occurs on Thursday, November 28. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.”The people at Plymouth had been unable to even get off the boat due to the horrible weather and only half the original passengers lived to see Spring arrive. Think about that - 50% of the passengers dead. You can't leave the boat,… Click To Tweet
The Story Before the Story
It all sounds wonderful – lobster, seal, and swans for dinner! Well, not too sure about the seals and the swans, but the lobster sounds great. However, the Pilgrims at Plymouth had been through a horrific winter the year before. They had been unable to even get off the boat due to the horrible weather and only half the original passengers lived to see Spring arrive. Think about that – 50% of the passengers dead. You can’t leave the boat, everyone is sick, there is scurvy and other disease, and you are surrounded by death and brutal cold. They endured all of this in order to have religious freedom – the very thing some take for granted today.
The First Thanksgiving
They left the boat and their first visitor was an Abenaki Indian who spoke English. He came back with another Indian man named Squanto who had been sold into slavery, escaped into England, and then returned to his native land. Squanto was truly sent by God to help them survive, thrive, and form an alliance with the Wampanoag Indians. This peaceful alliance lasted around 50 years.
In 1621, after their first successful corn harvest, they proclaimed a 3-day feast with their Indian friends, probably in October. They ate birds and deer and, while they probably did not call it Thanksgiving Day, I’m sure it was a day of great giving of thanks. Especially in light of what they had been through to get to this point. In 1623, they held another thanksgiving feast to celebrate the end of a drought and the celebration, which consisted of fasting and feasting, became a common practice in other New England settlements.
My point is not to do a thorough study of history here but to demonstrate the depth of the tradition and the hardships associated with it. Today, we have access to food in abundance at the local grocery store and we are not suffering from disease, drought or famine. However, it’s good for us to recognize how vital this celebration was to those who founded our nation. They had literally paid with their lives. Religious freedom was bought with the greatest price possible. Thanksgiving is not just a time to reflect on what we have in relation to homes and belongings. It is meant to also celebrate our religious freedom, so give thanks and make a thankful tree for thanksgiving!
While religious freedom may sometimes seem like a two-edged sword because all religions are free to practice in America, it is not. Our God is not so small that His truth is too weak to overcome the beliefs of other religions. They are not a threat to us in regard to our faith. While some may hate us and our religion, it stands strong. The gates of hell cannot prevail against it. Even through the greatest persecution, Christianity has survived.
“I give you the name Peter, a stone.[h] And this truth of who I am will be the bedrock foundation on which I will build my church—my legislative assembly,[i] and the power of death[j] will not be able to overpower it![k] ” Matthew 16:17 TPT
We need to celebrate the diverse religious freedom we enjoy in America without fear or anger or feeling threatened. Jesus’ church is built upon The Rock – Jesus Christ Himself. He is God and there are no other gods before Him, no matter what anyone else says or believes. However, our mandate is not to go out and shove this fact into people’s faces. Instead, our mandate is to love our neighbor as ourselves and treat them as Jesus treats us.
Christianity is based on love. Not hate, fear, anger, bitterness, selfishness, superiority or pride.
When I suggest that you Give Thanks and make a Thankful Tree for Thanksgiving, I hope you can see that it is a symbol of far more than turkey, dressing, potatoes and pie! While all of that is wonderful, we have a precious heritage to honor and live up to – a freedom bought with the price of Jesus’ blood and human lives.
I pray that your Thanksgiving is filled with gratitude and love and that the stresses or disappointments of the day are outweighed by the hope given to us in Christ. Family members may be missing, friends may be gone, arguments may happen, but take a moment in your own heart to remember what matters most. None of us have perfect families or live up to the hype and that’s good because that isn’t real life. What happens on November 28th will be the wonderfully imperfect attempt of sinful mortals to honor their Savior and love one another.
Thanksgiving Can Be A Difficult Time
I am one of those for whom the day is wonderful and hard. This is my fourth Thanksgiving without my first husband. I have family members who have estranged themselves from me for reasons I don’t understand. However, here is what I do have. A husband who is wonderful, loving me as I love him along with family and many, many friends. I have a rich life and choose to focus on what I have, while praying about what is lost. I follow the instruction in Philippians 4:8 NIV,
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Colossians 3:12-15 TPT sums up how our lives are to be lived
“You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity. Let your heart be always guided by the peace of the Anointed One, who called you to peace as part of his one body. And always be thankful.”
The Mark of Maturity For Thanksgiving and Every Day
- Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others.
- Be compassionate.
- Show kindness toward all.
- Be gentle and humble.
- Unoffendable in your patience with others.
- Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith.
- Forgive one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ.
- If you do find fault with someone, release the gift of forgiveness to them.
- Love is supreme and must flow.
- Love is the mark of true maturity.
- Let your heart always be guided by peace of Jesus, who called you to peace as part of His One body.
- Always be thankful.
What a list! This is how we are to live. So, this Thanksgiving we can be thankful for the opportunity we have to show His love regardless of what is happening (or not happening) around us. Let the joy of the Lord fill you!
Here is a free download for you as you create your Thankful Tree. 9 pages of fun Thanksgiving images you can download and print for your tree. Download and then print them on card stock or some other heavy paper. Cut them out in any shape you want, use some glitter and color pens or markers, punch a hole in the top and then use some twine, ribbon or yarn to hang each one on the tree. Everyone can write whatever they would like to on their tag,
**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
You might also enjoy reading Thanksgiving Family Traditions – Ideas For the Hard Times