It’s that time of year when we purposefully stop to count our blessings, make mental lists of people and possessions for which we’re thankful, and contemplate the order of our priorities. The month of November brings gratitude to the forefront of our minds, even though the gratitude attitude should be present year-round.
Spend some time each day this month being mindful of the things that bring you joy and happiness — namely, family and friends. Take every opportunity to share with them how thankful you are to have them in your life, and celebrate the gift of family love and friendships.
Choose to celebrate with some of the zany, but actual, holidays below, or create a few new ones with those you love.
Election Day: Encourage an appreciation of this right and freedom in our country by making voting day a family affair. Include the kids in as much as their ages deem possible today, then eat pizza and watch some of the election results.
Pick two or three points or items that affect your family, like allowance, bedtime, Christmas vacation, menu choices and so on. Take ample time to discuss the pros and cons of each point, then hold a mock election. (Be prepared to make allowances for the election results; choose points on which to vote carefully!) Once the newly elected “point” is enacted, be sure to instill a feeling of ownership and responsibility for the decision that was made. Help the kids learn early the value of voting and the consequences and changes that sometimes follow an election.
Veteran’s Day: Have you thanked a Vet recently for his or her service to our country? Several sites online give civilians the opportunity to thank those who defend and protect our country. Check out Operation Gratitude (www.operationgratitude.com) or other such sites for an address where you can send a note or package to someone who is currently serving in a branch of the military.
National Author’s Day: Have each one in the family choose a favorite book, then research the author of that book to find out more about him or her. Try to find a mailing address while researching to write the author and share how much you love the book. (Sometimes you can send a letter in care of the publisher of the book, but call the company first to find out details.) Find a way this month to celebrate each author the family chooses, like a dress-up night, an art contest to see who can illustrate a scene from the book most vividly, a play or scene reenacted from the book, or simply a reading of the book aloud as a family.
National Georgia Pecan Month: Create a local, fall treat with homegrown pecans. Purchase pecan halves and turn them into tasty pecan sandwiches. Choose one of the following ingredients and add a dollop on one pecan half, then top with another pecan half. Make sandwiches with strawberry-flavored cream cheese, fruit preserves, melted chocolate-candy coating, vanilla frosting or one-half of a slightly warmed caramel square. Chill pecan sandwiches, if necessary, to harden the inside, then serve as appetizers before a fall family gathering.
Thanksgiving: After a hearty Thanksgiving meal spent with family and friends, don the creative gloves and create turkey beanbags for afternoon play. Use an old pair of gloves, or purchase some new, colorful ones. (Look for ones with different colors on each finger, if possible.) Sew craft eyes on either side of the thumb part of the glove and a small piece of red felt on the thumb for the turkey’s wattle. Then fill the gloves with some kind of small, dried beans, leaving space near the open end. Stitch the open end closed, or tie closed with a ribbon. (The ribbon still probably will need a few stitchings to keep it completely closed.) Play beanbag games with the created turkeys, like tossing them into a large plastic bowl, or a toss-and-catch game, or try balancing them on your head while running a relay race.
The month of October blew past us with many windy days, sending us soaring into November. Absorb all that November has to offer: turkey and the trimmings, parades and football in person and on television, rainbows of autumn delight along the edges of the forest, songs of thanksgiving on Sunday mornings in church, and a few Christmas shopping days sprinkled here and there. But most importantly, spend special moments of joy and celebration this season with the loved ones for whom you are most grateful.
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.