It’s that time of year when people are counting their blessings and showing their gratitude. Volunteerism spikes during the holiday season in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and into the start of the New Year. Here are some ways you and your family can give thanks this year.
- Serve dinner and a smile. There are plenty of community Thanksgiving dinners coming up all over southern Illinois. Spend part of your day volunteering by helping set up tables, serving the meal or cleaning up afterward. If you can’t be there on Thanksgiving many groups spend the week of the holiday making mass quantities of food.
- Organize a food drive. The Boy Scouts hold a huge food drive in November called Scouting for Food. Volunteer your time with that effort or take it a step further and organize your own drive. Collect canned goods, boxed meals and meat products to help keep pantry shelves and freezers full. Don’t just do it this time of year. Remember the need goes on 365 days. You should consider helping in the spring and summer months too.
- Create a gratitude jar. This is a simple way to encourage everyone in the family to express what they’re thankful for this year. Each day everyone writes down one thing they’re grateful for and puts that message in a jar. (You can decorate it however you like and place it in the middle of the table for Thanksgiving dinner.) Then in between the turkey and the pumpkin pie, everyone around the table pulls out a message and reads it to everyone.
- Roll it up. Instead of the jar, type out each thankful message and print it on a tiny piece of paper. Roll up that message in the dinner roll and bake it inside. It becomes a Thanksgiving fortune cookie of sorts. Take turns reading the notes and try guessing who is showing their gratitude on each.
- You’ve got mail. Don’t forget the men and women who deliver your mail, pick up your garbage and sprays for insects. You don’t have to wait until Christmas to leave a gift. A bag of candy, a homemade treat or a gift card to a fast food restaurant are all wonderful ways to show you’re appreciative and care about them.
- Ready, set, hunt! Create a grateful scavenger hunt. Split the family into teams and supply each with a camera. Set a time limit and give each team a list of things to be thankful for in different scenarios like “in nature”, “makes me smile” and “smells amazing”. This will provide some bonding time and offer an opportunity for everyone in the family to reflect.
These are just a few ways to give thanks. If you haven’t tried any of these, give one a shot this season and create a new family tradition. The benefits will be endless.