Expressing Thanks and Practicing Generosity

Each year, as the month of November nears, I begin thinking about the Thanksgiving traditions that have been so meaningful for my family over the years. The annual “turkey trot” walk / run happens each year at the high school I attended. Another amazing tradition – a local volunteer and her family generously provide a free Thanksgiving Day meal to anyone who attends, no questions asked.

Grandfather and grandmother are taking a selfie with their grandson and granddaughter while out on a walk on a brisk day.

You, too, may have family traditions that are special at this time of year. How can we use this time of year to teach the values of generosity and thankfulness to our family members?  

One way to teach others how to be thankful and generous is to model that behavior during our everyday routines. Children who see their parents volunteering at school, church, or for something in the community learn that good things can happen when people work together. According to The Child Mind Institute, it is normal for children to be self-involved, therefore, parents must intentionally teach how and what service and generosity look like.

Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to think of ways we can give thanks daily! Who are the people in your life that you love and appreciate? Who are the people that cheer you on, encourage you to do your best? The truth is, we can make generosity become a habit by showing gratitude to our own family members first.

Say thank you to your child for keeping the bed made or for helping to clear the table after a family meal. Show appreciation to an older sibling for reading a story to a younger sibling before bed time. In fact, parents may also choose to show gratitude to the school teacher, football coach, or other community members who make a difference in our lives.

It has often been said, we learn what we live, so let us show kindness and gratitude to others during this special time of year, and watch how it becomes a habit for you and your family.

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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2 thoughts on “Expressing Thanks and Practicing Generosity

  1. Good reminder, Barb. I have 3 grandchildren and this year on Thanksgiving I am giving each of them (and their parents) a Heifer International gift card and a catalog. They each choose how they want to “spend” their gift money. On Christmas, they will show me what their got for their Heifer International family. I hope they enjoy the idea and learn generosity in the process.

  2. Thanks Barbara for this note! What a great idea at the holiday. Wishing you well, friend!


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