Seven Ways to Keep the Thanks in Thanksgiving


Come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. —Psalm 95:1-2 NLT

I’ve been feeling a little sorry for Thanksgiving lately. It seems to be a bit overlooked these days. In my neighborhood, people go all out for Halloween, and just about as soon as that’s over, it’s on to Christmas and all the shopping and lights and bows and sparkle that go with that glorious season. Sandwiched in between is this quiet holiday—let’s not neglect it. God calls us to give thanks, and here’s a day all set and ready-made to specifically do that very thing.

I have some thoughts on ways to make it especially rich this year. For Christians, we are constantly urged to “come to [God] with thanksgiving” as the Psalm above tells us. How do we do that in our diverse and challenging family situations? Read these seven suggestions over and see which one of them in particular “fits” your own special circumstances this Thanksgiving.

1. Simple Thanks. Whether your table is surrounded with people or it’s just you and your cat, take the time before you eat to stop and pray. Thank God for that table, the food on it, and the cat or those people who joined you. Honor the Lord before you eat.

2. Circle Thanks. This is a tradition my family has carried on for years. We go around the table in a circle, each person listing one or two special things they are thankful for this particular year. They can range from the silly to the sublime. From thankfulness for a day off work to thankfulness for a relative recovered from an illness. Just a way to stop and count blessings before the feasting—a blessing in and of itself.

3. Encouragement Thanks. Consider telling your guests at the beginning of the meal that between dinner and dessert there will be a time of encouragement thanks. Each person is to think of one reason they are thankful for the person next to them (let them know if you will go to the left or the right). Giving your guests time to think about it is appreciated. Then between courses, speak your words of encouragement … and watch the smiles as each person in the circle is honored by the one next to him or her.

4. Memory Thanks. In this special method, guests are asked to share a memory for which they are thankful—perhaps a memory of a loved one no longer present or a special event that took place within the family that year. It’s another way to reflect on blessings. Maybe this one has your name on it this year.

5. Topical Thanks. This one might be a bit more challenging, but maybe challenging is just what your family loves! Create cards in advance with a different topic listed on each one. At dinner, shuffle them up and have each person at the table take one. Then in turn, each one gives thanks for the topic on the card received. Here are some ideas for your cards: A household item for which you are thankful … a pet, past or present … your favorite method of transportation (a ski-mobile or scooter or car or bicycle or ?) … a piece of clothing … a book … an adventure from the past year … a special friend … a tree … you name it—let your creative juices flow. So many things in this big world of ours we take for granted, don’t we? Consciously stopping and thinking about them is a great way to honor the One who gave them to us.

6. Praise Thanks. What do you love about God? That He is merciful? That He forgives over and over? Maybe, that He’s in charge and you don’t have to be. Go around the table and have each one share a specific way he or she is especially thankful for our great God.

7. Weird Thanks. If you are a long-time Musings reader, you know that on past Thanksgivings* I have shared with all of you “Weird Things I Am Thankful For.” Think of something “odd” that has brought you joy. (No, it can’t be your husband or kids or grandkids. We all know you’re thankful for them!) Think outside the box. Perhaps it’s your mattress-cover warmer on a cold night or a special brand of hot chocolate you like to drink after a long day. Whatever random, little something you really enjoy … mention it and laugh and rejoice together that you live in a time and place where we have electricity to plug in a mattress warmer and choices in what to drink.

Oh, friend. Are you breathing? Did you eat today? Can you turn on a faucet and instantly have fresh water? Then you are blessed indeed. Nothing should be taken for granted in this hard world of ours. Let’s put the “Thanks” back in Thanksgiving this year and actively speak our gratitude out loud. After all, our God is with us. That alone is so stunning it should have us all thanking Him. And when we look at all He has given us? Our hearts should overflow.

Heavenly Father, forgive me when I let the hard things of life crowd out of my mind all that is still good. Help me to notice the food and clothing I have in abundance. Show me the night sky in all its majesty. Remind me that no matter what, You never leave me nor forsake me. Turn my grumbling into praise and thanksgiving, Lord. Help me to see all You do and notice Your many blessings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

* Checkout the “Weird Things” Musings:
Weird Things I’m Thankful For 2018
Weird Things I’m Thankful for 2020

You are loved,




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10 Comments. Leave new

  • I love this post!!! A “weird thing” I’m thankful for is thunderstorms. They bring to mind how my mom and dad would gather us all into the living room to wait it out together. It was a wonderful family bonding time. The even weirder thing is how a cross meant to bring ultimate torture and death could bring such life. Happy Thanksgiving Sharon❤️

  • Ruth LaMontagne
    November 22, 2021 3:17 pm

    I was praying for great ways our group of 5 solid christians could celebrate God over our Thanksgiving table this year and behold your post in my inbox! Hallelujah
    Now 2 have been closely connected with a family member with a positive COVID test – we will STILL have a table of THANKS – giving even if it turns out to be 3! Thanks Sharon

    • Dearest Ruth – first of all, how FUN to realize you are on our list and received this blog. Second of all, I am so sorry your Thanksgiving table has grown smaller due to covid. But third, I celebrate that you will still give thanks and that this little blog helped. Love you and miss you, Sharon

  • These ideas are so helpful! I have my cards all written and ready to go for Thanksgiving dinner.

    • Oh Katie! What FUN! I am so glad you found an idea within the 7. May God bless your Thanksgiving dinner time thanks with great JOY! Love you, friend. Sharon

  • Sharon, it is probably a little weird that I am thankful
    for a little dog we once had named Lola. Doug and I
    adopted her as a puppy from our veterinarian’s office. One of the
    staff had rescued her from a bad living situation.
    Shortly after adopting Lola we found out she had
    epilepsy and had to be on daily medication. At 2 years
    of age we found out that Lola had water on the brain
    and she needed to be put down. Though it was heart
    breaking to put down such a young dog I believe that God
    placed her with us because He knew that she would
    be well taken care of and loved during her short life. All of
    visits to the vet and the medication was costly and some
    one else could have adopted her that would not or could not
    have been willing or able to do this for this special little dog.
    Lola was the sweetest, most loving and affectionate dog.
    I am thankful that Doug and I had her in our lives, though
    it was brief. Thank you dear God for allowing us the privilege
    of having Lola in our lives and for being able to love and care for her
    during her short life. In Jesus’ name. Amen

    • Oh Candie. How precious this story is! To choose to be thankful you got to love on this little God-made dog for a short season instead of irritated at the cost. Yes. You were the right people for Lola. And it sounds like she returned all the love she received from you two and then some. Rejoicing with you in this sweet memory at Thanksgiving.

  • Margaret Fowler
    November 22, 2021 9:50 pm

    Sharon, Thanks for great ideas to give thanks. As we are coming to you for Thanksgiving, I wonder what you have in store for us!

    • Oh, we have plans for a sweet time of thanksgiving, that’s for sure, Mum. SO happy you and Daddy are coming. Love you, Sharon


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