Remembering to Thank Family Members at Thanksgiving
What Do We Have to Thank Our Families for?
As we give thanks to God for our family members, let us not neglect to give thanks to them. The tradition around the family table is usually an expression of thanks from each person for at least one blessing. Some mention general thanks for the family or a family member, but if we always thank generally, some specific deeds and virtues will never get mentioned.
It is meaningful when we are intentional about the reasons we thank the individuals, and more meaningful still if we address our thanks to them. Thanksgiving with the extended family is the perfect occasion to boost an individual's sense of belonging while celebrating the joy of family.
Below are some ideas to inspire gratitude for family members. See how quickly and how long our list of blessings can grow. Let us give the proverbial flowers while each one can receive them and say, “Thank you.”
What greater blessing to give thanks for at a family gathering than the family and the gathering.— Robert Brault
1. For Standing at Their Posts
In every family, there are usually some individuals who stand at their post. They perform the duties they are assigned. They carry their own weight. They can be found when they’re needed. It is easy to take them for granted and just thank them for being there. Why not take the time to address them and mention some specific performances? Thank:
- dad for keeping his promises to attend sports and drama events;
- mom for spending wisely and balancing the checkbook;
- children for performing their chores without repeated instructions;
- big brother or sister for tutoring a younger child.
“Family is where you learn how to share, how to relate, and how to treat other people.”1 It is the best place to learn the habit of expressing thanks to those who contribute the most to our lives.
2. For Standing in the Gap
Family members sometimes falter at their posts because of their humanity (for example: sickness, schedules beyond their control; unexpected expenses). At such times, other family members stand in the gap—filling the position or need. Say “thank you” to:
- grandparents who substitute in the parents’ absence.
- aunt and uncle who remain at a sick child’s bedside so the parents can take care of the other children.
- sisters who bake extra bread when another is expecting house guests.
- brothers who pay for the car repair so another can have transportation to get to work.
These supportive roles are important, and extra help deserves extra thanks. Remembering to thank these family members (whether or not they acted willingly) will make them feel happy that they helped out. It may also make them likely to step up again, voluntarily. Best of all, the hug after the mention will add to the positive mood of Thanksgiving.
3. For Standing Strong
The two sections above mention what family members do. We are also thankful for their characteristics which make them who they are and which combine to give our family the strength it has. Each time we thank family members for their strengths, we thank them for being a part of us. We make them feel worthy when we look them in the eye and thank them for virtues like:
- wholesome humor
When we highlight the individual strengths of family members, we cement the foundation on which we thrive and nurture the love we share.
4. For Standing Patiently
Patience belongs on the list of strengths, but in the family it deserves special mention. “Family life grows miserable without patience . . . our relationships need patience in the same way an engine needs oil—without it, the friction will cause an explosion.2”
So it is wonderful to thank:
- the children for their patience during the times the person assigned to pick them up was late.
- the wife who waits at home when a thirty-minute drive from the husband’s office takes two hours because of business emergencies.
- the parent who worries for an entire day expecting to hear from the teenager who is traveling.
- each one who waits for attention while media gadgets (everything from cell phones to television) get the time family members deserve.
We can always remind each other that the practice of patience helps us develop other personal strengths. Joyce Meyer, popular author and speaker reminds us that “Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it's how we behave while we're waiting.” To help encourage good behavior in patient family members, express sincere thanks.
Remembering Our Military Family
5. For Standing Together in Love
The Thanksgiving celebration is considered by many to be a family event. Rest assured, however, that the presence of non-family members will not lessen the power of the love and expressions of thanks between family members. It will most likely benefit the visitors who experience the demonstration of family love. It will also teach the joy of hospitality to those who are inclined to keep to themselves.
Whether or not visitors are present, be sure to strengthen family unity and love by:
- devising a method by which each person present receives appreciation specifically addressed to him or her;
- remembering those who recently passed on by mentioning positive reasons that they are missed;
- stressing the need for love and thank expressions throughout the year.
Let Thanksgiving this year be an occasion when we empower each other with genuine expressions of thanks. Face to face is still the very best form of communication, except of course, when we're saying thanks to God; we can even close our eyes when we thank Him.
© 2014 Dora Weithers