You are probably planning at to spend at least a little time focusing on Thanksgiving in your next small group meeting. But what do you do? Here are several ideas/resources for you!
Ice Breakers are a fun way to get everyone talking. Write something to be thankful for on a small sheet of paper and tape it to the back of everyone who comes in the door. They must ask yes or no questions from other guests to guess what is written on the paper.
Get the Whole Family Involved
Age-specific ways to help your kids experience the meaning behind the celebration on Thanksgiving Day. by Lynne M. Thompson
Sometimes it’s a challenge to convince children that Thanksgiving Day is really not all about the food. Sure there’s turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, and pie. Oh yeah, don’t forget the pie! But hidden inside this palate-driven holiday is an opportunity to teach the meaning behind the celebration. It is, after all, a day to remember God and give thanks.
The scriptures are filled with passages calling us to maintain a thankful heart. From Psalm 106:1, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,” to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians urging them to “give thanks in all circumstances” (5:18). It was this latter verse that sustained the Pilgrims, venturing to the New World, who ushered in the Thanksgiving Day celebration.
In the winter of 1620, Pilgrims, traveling by sea, settled at Plymouth, Massachusetts. They came for religious freedom — a desire to worship God and live according to Holy Scripture. But the country they found was bleak and uninviting, with several inches of snow already on the ground. Of the 102 passengers aboard the ship, the Mayflower, nearly half died during the first winter of the “great sickness.” Yet, according to settler Edward Winslow, they were grateful to God for his provision in their lives. A year later, the group celebrated with a feast of thanksgiving.
So, this year as the guests arrive, in addition to a bountiful meal, try these fun-filled age-appropriate activities that will direct children, and adults, back to the true meaning of the holiday, and also create Thanksgiving Day memories that will last a lifetime.
For the very young, holidays are about the nurturing and extra attention received from grandparents and other close family and friends. Try to provide time for fun interaction, with songs and hymns that celebrate the season. Provide toddlers with some crayons and color books, and invite grandparents to color along. Be sure to include The Pumpkin Patch Parable, a picture book by Liz Curtis Higgs, for an after supper story time.
Make your young guests feel special when Thanksgiving dinner is served atop a custom-made tablecloth they designed. Break out the color crayons, or markers, and allow each child to draw their own artwork depicting a thankful day. Later, play a game of “Alphabet Thanks,” where children draw from a bowl of letters, and then tell God thanks for something that begins with the letter they picked.
This age group is ready to put the spirit of thanksgiving into practice by canvassing their neighborhood, collecting canned food items for those in need. For fun on Thanksgiving Day, have this age group use a video camera to film their own home movie about giving thanks. Guests can be entertained as they view the finished work on the TV during dessert. Or, for the more musically minded, have the kids borrow the tune from their favorite pop or rap song and replace the lyrics with a seasonal message.
This age is perfect for hands-on community service. Visit the local rescue mission or nearby retirement home, and have them pitch in by serving the holiday meal. Another fun idea is to invite these teens to compete in a pie-baking contest, with Gram and Gramps deciding the winning recipe.
ORIGINS OF THANKSGIVING
Our Thanksgiving holiday began in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln issued a presidential proclamation calling for a national day of thanksgiving. It is simply awesome to reflect on the God-fearing Christian heritage of our country. Teach it to your children. Here is the text of that proclamation:
“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
“In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
“Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore.
“Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.
“And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”
THANKSGIVING HUMOR, #1
A Thanksgiving Cookbook by Mrs. Geraghty’s Kindergarten Class
NOTE: Mrs. Geraghty will not be responsible for medical bills resulting from the use of this cookbook.
~Alan – Turkey
First you shoot it and then you cut it. And then you put it in the oven and cook it for 10 minutes and 20 degrees. You put it on plates and then you eat it.
~Jeremy – Turkey
You buy the turkey and take the paper off. Then you put it in the refrigerator and take it back out and cut it with a knife and make sure all the wires are out and take out the neck and heart. Then you put it in a big pan and cook it for half an hour at 80 degrees. Then you invite people over and eat.
~Andrew – Pizza
Buy some dough, some cheese and pepperoni. Then you cook it for 10 hours at 5 degrees. Then you eat it.
~Shelby – Applesauce
Go to the store and buy some apples, and then you squish them up. Then you put them in a jar that says, “Applesauce.” Then you eat it.
~Christopher – Pumpkin Pie
First you buy a pumpkin and smash it. Then it is all done. And you cook it in the oven for 12 minutes and 4 degrees. Then you eat it.
~Jennie – Corn
My mom buys it. Then you throw it. Then you cook it. Then you eat it.
~Joplyn – Apple Pie
Take some apples, mash them up. Take some bread and make a pie with it. Get some dough and squish it. Shape the dough into a pie shape. Put the apples in it. Then bake it at nine degrees for 15 minutes.
THANKSGIVING HUMOR, #2
TEN REASONS TO BE THANKFUL YOU BURNT THE TURKEY!
10. Everyone will think your turkey is Cajun-blackened.
9. Uninvited guests will think twice next year.
8. Your cheese broccoli lima bean casserole will gain newfound appreciation.
7. Pets won’t bother to pester you for scraps.
6. No one will overeat.
5. The smoke alarm was due for a test.
4. Carving the bird will provide a good cardiovascular workout.
3. You’ll get to the desserts more quickly.
2. After dinner, the guys can take the bird to the yard and play football.
1. The less turkey Uncle You-Know-Who eats, the less likely he will be to walk around with his pants unbuttoned.