Each year before we enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner, my family and I take a few minutes to express our thanks from the past year. I always get tears in my eyes, as we talk about kids, health or opportunities or mention someone who is missing from the table. Last year, my then-3-year-old said she was most thankful for her family (cue the waterworks). I want my kids to always remember and appreciate their blessings.

Here are some ideas for encouraging gratitude and thankfulness.

  • Volunteer. While my children are a little young for most volunteer activities, I look forward to one day helping others next to my daughters.
  • Complete random acts of kindness. Leave a thank-you note for your mail carrier. Bake cookies for an elderly neighbor. Give a gift card to a teacher or daycare provider. In the future, I hope my daughters will write thank-you notes to teachers and others.
  • Start a thank-you jar. When you think of something you’re thankful for, write it on a slip of paper and place it in a jar. Read the notes on Thanksgiving.
  • Buy extra and give it away. Pick up a few extra non-perishable items and donate them to a food drive, or donate gifts for a toy drive. Last year, we picked an angel off the tree and bought items for an 8-year-old girl. At first, the whole process confused my daughter (she really wanted to meet the girl we bought gifts for), but I hope she started to learn an important lesson.

What do you do with your family? I’d love to learn about (and share) your ideas. Email me at shofius@timesshamrock.com.