Teaching Thanksgiving All Year Long

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I’m a complainer.

I have some Jewish blood, so I think it’s just in my DNA. But wait… I also have HUMAN blood, so yeah… it’s definitely in my DNA. It’s so easy to fall into the comparison game and look around at the perfect lives everyone else seems* (*Keyword-seems!) to be living. We avoid teaching thanksgiving in our family.

We wonder why ours is not so perfect. We hone in, not on all the blessings and ways that our own lives are “perfect” compared to others, but rather on the areas that are less than (sometimes horrifyingly so) perfect.

Our world is broken.

Imperfections remind us of that. But instead of causing us to long for heaven, these imperfections too often cause us to long for heaven-on-earth… something we know, intellectually, can never happen until Christ returns. But we still think we can make it happen. Or that God can…should…make it happen. Now.

I was driving home from back-to-back trips this week and started thinking of all the areas in my life I wish were different. I don’t think I had slipped into complaining mode yet, but I was definitely longing for heaven-on-earth.


And then, before that longing for perfection turned sinful, I started thinking of how blessed we are!

I suddenly became very aware of the present moment and the fact that I was joyfully anticipating being home in five minutes, hugging the ones I love, cherishing all those homey feelings that come with returning to where I belong. And this thought struck me:

When it all comes down to it, isn’t that what really matters? That our homes are filled with love for both God and each other?

My heart overflowed in that moment with thankfulness! My children love God and love each other and others. That is what matters. I have been a successful homeschool mom.  

Thanksgiving is at the heart of success in our homeschools, but the old saying continues to hold true: “More is caught than is taught.” Teaching thanksgiving all year long is just as much about living it in our lifeschooling in front of our children.

So, how are you teaching thanksgiving to your children?

Are we living our everyday lives with thankfulness, for both the good and the bad? Are we practicing thanksgiving all year long? Here are some practical ways that we can lead by example and teach our children to follow that lead.

  1. Focus on the positive. When you catch yourself complaining…or almost complaining, like I did…find things in your life to be thankful for. Verbalize them to your children and point them back to the One who deserves our thanks.
  2. Thank God for the “bad” things. There’s always a silver lining! Find it. Thanking God not just for the good things, but also the bad is a powerful example to our children!
  3. Post reminders around the house. Whether it’s beautiful printouts of verses or simple post-it notes (I scribbled “Praise the Lord!” on a bunch of post-it notes one day and stuck them around the house), having reminders around is an important step to breaking the complaining habit and starting a habit of thanksgiving.
  4. Write out Scriptures about thankfulness. You can also have your children do the same! There is something about writing that gets truth into our hearts and minds more effectively.
  5. Keep a gratitude journal and write in it daily. This is a great new habit to start that will help you break the complaining habit!

To help your youngest ones learn to do this from an early age, I’ve created this Thanksgiving Through the Alphabet printable, which you can download for free below for a limited time. Just enter your name and email and we will send it to you immediately. It’s that easy to be teaching Thanksgiving all year long.

Ultimately, like so many other things in life, thanksgiving through the year is really about a simple choice.

Will you choose to be thankful?

Or will you opt for default complaining mode? Will you listen to the Holy Spirit when He shows you your sin, or will you reject His voice? I hope you’ll choose thanksgiving!  

Danielle Papageorgiou has been homeschooling, or “lifeschooling,” for 18 years (she counts birth as day 1!) and has run the WINGS Homeschool Group for the past nine. She has a passion for helping other homeschoolers learn how to homeschool in a way that does not compete with family life, but actually enhances it…homeschooling done in a spirit of freedom, not legalism.

Her desire is to see more families set free from the world’s expectations of what education is and to discover that God has made each family unique and has also placed in each of their children special gifts and desires that He wants to use. The verse that guides the Papageorgious in their pursuit of lifeschooling is Matthew 6:33, “But seek FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and ALL these things will be added to you.” (Emphasis mine).


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