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Thanks and Giving as We Enter the Long Holiday Season

on November 2, 2014

For parts of the month of November, I will be reposting some of my favorite posts from the past years.  I am working on a few other writing projects, and I want to devote some clear time to them.  That being said, I think all of these posts are worth a second (or for many of you a first) look.  There will be NEW posts sprinkled throughout as well.  Hope you enjoy some of my blasts from the past.

This was originally posted the Fall of 2013.  I am adjusting the time frames to fit this year and update how we are changing some things this year.

A few years ago, we decided our kiddo needed a healthy dose of thanks and thoughtfulness (something that seems to be necessary more than once in a lifetime for all of us–not just kids).  It is easy for kids to get wrapped up in the “I want” mentality of having new toys, games, etc. this time of year.  The toy ads for Target and Toys R Us have already landed in our mailbox and thankfully we can avoid commercials most of the time as we do not subscribe to cable TV.  It can be difficult for kids to really understand and appreciate what they do have and realize that giving back to others can be just as rewarding.

This all started two years ago when my daughter and I created our very own 25 days of giving for the month of December.  I made a list of ways we could give back to others, and we did one every day leading up to and including Christmas.  I tried my best to make it cute and wrote out the activities in the form of a pine tree instead of a list and included a fun holiday border around the outside.  I then placed the list in a class fronted frame, and we were able to check off our activities every day.  This past year the kiddo got super into crossing the items off our list, because she could use various colors of dry erase marker which made it look festive.  Some of our items were scheduled for certain days/times and some were done randomly.  It was really rewarding for both of us, I think.  My daughter got really into some of the ideas, and some of them changed a bit throughout the month.  For example, our trip to the local Humane Society to drop off food and old towels led to us adopting a kitten the next day.  We gave an animal in need a new home!  I think that was her favorite act of giving over all.

This is this kitty we rescued last year during our Days of Giving.  He's not really kitten sized anymore.

This is this kitty we rescued last year during our Days of Giving. He’s not really kitten sized anymore.

Last year, I wanted to go one step further.  Our kiddo is really thoughtful when it comes to other people, but she sometimes forgets to be thankful for what she already has or for the people/experiences in her life.  To help with this, I also decided we needed to do days of thanks.  The past couple of years, I have seen people post what they are thankful for on social media like Facebook each day leading up to Thanksgiving.  While that doesn’t really work so great for a young one, I love the concept.  We just needed to change the way it was shared.  My kiddo loves crafts and colorful crafts especially, so I thought we could make something festive together that would easily include our messages of thanks.

Starting November 1st, we will begin our 28 days of thanks.  Every day, she tells me one thing she is thankful for–and every day has to be different.  To display her items, I thought it would be fun to use a turkey and write the thankful items on its feathers.  To do so, I used a turkey cut out from brown construction paper and cut out four feathers each from seven different colors of paper.  I wrote, “I am thankful for” on the turkey’s belly and each feather will say “what she is thankful for.”  Last year she picked out the feather color and item of thanks each day, and then after I wrote it down, we glued it on the turkey.  We did have a bit of trouble fitting all 28 large feathers on the turkey last year.  This year, I think we will do a double row with smaller feathers.  I am also going to have her write down the item she is thankful for on the front to practice her writing, and I will write the because on the back.  The “because” is the important part as it makes her really think about why that item is important to her.

In a moment of inspiration last year, I decided it would be more fun if our turkey stood up on a table or counter instead of being attached to a wall or the refrigerator.  I used two toilet paper rolls I had been about to recycle as a stand for the turkey by gluing them to the back.  This wasn’t terribly sturdy, so I am going to try and do something a little stronger this year.  In the picture below you can see where we added the first two feathers last year.  Coming up with 28 items (we’re going to do the day after Thanksgiving this year too) to be thankful for with no repeats sounds daunting, but she did a great job (with a little coaching).  She picked some items that were present all the time (like our family members or cats) and some things that happened to go on that day or week.  I cannot wait to see what she chooses every day and see our turkey proudly displayed for Thanksgiving dinner.

Here is our turkey on day two!

2013 Turkey

Turkey 2.0.  I took a lid to a shoebox and covered it in wrapping paper. I am hoping the lid gives the turkey a bit more stability and we can either lean it up against the wall in the kitchen or hang it up without too much fuss.  After the lid was covered, I taped the turkey to the box. We also gave him a beak, waddle, and eye this year by gluing scraps of paper left over from the feathers either on top of or behind the turkey. The feathers are the same shape as last year, just a bit smaller. We will make two rows of 14 when all is said and done. Not sure why the color came out weird, but it’s the same construction paper as the picture above.

2014 Turkey

2014 Turkey

Since Thanksgiving is so late this year, we might take the last few days of November off to prep ourselves for our 25 days of giving.  Each year I have tried to adjust the list to reflect our lives for the current year–for example we had to change preschool giving activities over to elementary school activities.  Below is a picture of our list from last year as it stands now, though it is a work in progress for this year. I did ask for input on our activities from the kiddo last year, and will do so again.  Since they are things we do together, I want to make sure they are meaningful to her too.  One thing to keep in mind is that your 25 Days of Giving doesn’t mean 25 days of giving away money.  Many of the items on our list do not cost a thing for us monetarily, but they still matter.  If your budget is tight, you could very easily create a “no cost” 25 Days of Giving list.

Not the best picture, but you get the idea.  A link to the .PDF is below.

Not the best picture, but you get the idea. A link to the .PDF is below.

25 Days of Giving

I am really excited about both our days of thanks and our days of giving.  Not only do they really reinforce character traits we want our daughter to have, but we are able to share such wonderful experiences together that I really believe we are given a gift too.  No matter how cheesy that sounds, I am truly happy to kick off our holiday season by acknowledging the blessings in our life and sharing kindness with others.

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