Finding Thankfulness in a Simple Holiday

I don't know about you, but Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. What other holiday do we just eat and sit around being thankful for what we already have? While Christmas really should be about that, I find that Thanksgiving is the holiday where our family seems to focus best on all of the blessings in our life. There are no presents to distract us from our thankful hearts and the focus is all about being together as a family.

We don't have very many Thanksgiving traditions in our family other than a morning spent watching the Thanksgiving parade in our jammies and just being together. The beauty in Thanksgiving, for me, is finding simple ways to give thanks for all that we have in our lives.

As Jacqueline Winspear has said though, “Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.” I want to live thankfully, to be aware of every blessing (great AND small), and the more aware I become the more thankful I am. The more thankful I am, the more blessed I feel. It is a richness that money can’t buy.

Here are a few ways to embrace a life of thankfulness in the little things this holiday season:

Say Thank You With Simple Gifts- Contrary to popular belief, even though I blog abut saving money, you won't find this girl at the Black Friday sales trying to score the best deals. My favorite thing to do is to spend the day after Thanksgiving lounging around in my pajamas, sipping coffee, and starting my holiday crafting for those I love.

Instead of making a plan of attack at the store this year, embrace a DIY mentality towards your gift-giving and start jotting down the crafts you want to try this year. I don't know about you, but nothing means more to me than someone taking time out of their day to create something beautiful and unique just for me.

Make a list of supplies you need for making those crafts happen and hit Goodwill first to see if you can find the craft supplies for less or find a vision for what to do with these thrift store items. If you need a little inspiration to get you started, be sure to read my entry on, "Breathing New Life In Thrift Store Items."

With those beautiful handmade gifts, jot down a note to say thanks and tell that person why they are so important in your life. In a day and age where we barely write anymore, just imagine what a little note included with a handmade gift could mean to someone you love?

Start a Simple Christmas Stocking Tradition- Tired of trying to find a home for all of those useless items in your stocking? Why not start a new tradition that will remind you what the holiday season is all about?

On the first day of December, I set out a basket with small slips of paper. Each person in the family is supposed to write something about someone else in the family that they appreciate about them and stick it in each other’s stockings. On Christmas morning, we have something fun to look forward to opening, which centers on family rather than gifts. If you have smaller children, have them draw pictures for each family member and jot down the sweet things they say about their family members. It is truly a highlight of my Christmas morning and brings us all closer together as we share our family breakfast.

Give Simply to Others- Even though I have the best intentions to keep gift-giving simple, we always receive so many wonderful gifts from our family that we have to find a home for. Use this time leading up to the holidays to bless others with the abundance in your life.

Talk with your children about the importance of giving back and have them help you weed through their books, toys, and electronics to make room for the gifts that they will be receiving and to reclaim some much needed space in your home.

Want to visualize how much your Goodwill donation will mean for others with your children? Visit The Donate Movement page and you can use their calculator to discover what your impact will have on your community and the amount of hours your simple donation will provide to educate and train employees at Goodwill. Head on over to their page today and see what a difference a simple day of decluttering could do for someone in your community.

Instead of Gifts Create Simple Family Moments- Last year we started a new tradition with the money we received from our grandparents. In year's past, I would spend an entire day shopping and trying to find gifts that the kids might want even though they really didn't need anything.

Instead of buying gifts, we put the money toward an experience that we could do together. Last year we all dressed up very fancy and took our children to see, "The Nutcracker." We finished the show by having hot cocoa at The South Bend Chocolate Cafe. It was a memory I hope they will never forget.

Consider asking for gifts like money to put toward a pass to a local museum, zoo, or a special show that you would love to see at the theater. Not only will you have had a fun experience together bonding as a family, but you will also have a memory that will last far longer than another gift under the tree.

What are some of your favorite simple holiday traditions? Feel free to share them here!