He Sets the Lonely in Families

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My family moved to Richmond, Virginia, when I was 8 years old – quite far away from where my parents grew up and where all of our extended family lived. Dayton, Ohio, was a LONG trek now, and with two little kids my parents decided we’d go for Thanksgiving OR Christmas.

One of those first Christmases we were in Virginia alone, I remember a strange guest around our Christmas tree: my dad’s work friend, who had recently had a broken engagement and was suffering heartbreak. We loved having him among us, and he gifted me with my very first (and only) Paula Abdul cassette tape, for which I will be forever grateful to him.

Fast forward a good deal of years, and I am 22. It is my first married Christmas, and I live in Nashville, Tennessee, far away from my own parents and even my husband’s. I started a job in customer service on November 1, leaving me with no vacation time and the inability to take any even if I had it, due to the nature of service jobs.

I cried in my office one day over the injustice of it all. Christmas had always been steeped in tradition for my little family unit and the thought of those traditions continuing without me was enough to make me physically ill. I wanted my mommy.

Lo and behold, one of my motherly co-workers invited me and my new husband into her home for Christmas Day. They made us feel like family, let us hold the new babies and pet the dogs and call Miss Sheila’s elderly mama “Grandmother” like they did. It wasn’t my family … but it was enough. And it was a blessing.

So here is my holiday advice: don’t get so wrapped up in your own family unit that you don’t see the hurting, lonely people around you during the holidays. What’s one more mouth to feed at your  buffet? Bless others by taking them into your family and loving them. It will set a wonderful example for your children and who knows … you might be entertaining angels (Hebrews 13:2).

When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after three little ones (ages 5, almost 3, and 8 months). 

 

This post originally published December 13, 2011. 

Friday Links 11/16

I’m bypassing good parenting and going straight to Thanksgiving this week for links. So, please share! What’s your favorite Thanksgiving recipe?

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Fun Traditions and UnTraditions by G.G. Mathis

19/52 Tristan
source: edjohnson841

The November issue of ParentLife declared independence on tired and tedious holiday traditions in the article “Freedom From Tradition.” Families were encouraged to celebrate meaningfully and playfully in ways that create lasting memories, not lasting fatigue.

Need some ideas for an out-of-the-ordinary way to observe special days at your house? We’ve compiled some of our favorites:

We bought two tiny Christmas trees, one for each of our sons to put in his room. The boys were allowed to decorate the trees any way they liked. Some years, the decorations would change daily—action figures one day, paper chains the next; even socks and underwear!

Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, we stock up on take-and-bake pizzas the night before. We bake them, eat from paper plates, and spend the day playing games together, not cooking!

We decided that a bunny visit on Easter Sunday detracted from the message of Jesus’ resurrection. So at our house, by mutual consent, the Early Bunny visits on the Saturday before Easter, leaving Sunday for worship and family time.

Nobody in our family cares much about football. So we plan a special dinner out on Superbowl Sunday evening. The restaurants aren’t crowded!

In our family, Roses Day (October 1) commemorates the day I received a dozen roses and a clue to the identity of the man I eventually married. Roses Day was such an important part of our family tradition, my daughter was puzzled after school one October first: “Mom, nobody at school has ever heard of Roses Day!”

Instead of a huge birthday present blowout that’s over in 10 minutes, we leave small gifts for the birthday boy (or girl) in unexpected places all day long.

We have a Thanksgiving tablecloth that comes out of storage every year. With fabric paint, each family member prints something for which he or she is thankful. It’s a great way to remember how God has cared for us over the years.

G.G. Mathis teaches preteens at Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin, Missouri.

Real Life Solutions: Thanksgiving

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Source: uniquecraft.info via C on Pinterest

 

Q: Thanksgiving is a holiday that doesn’t seem to get its due. I want my children to understand the meaning of the holiday, as it is an important part of American history. What kinds of activities can I do with my children that will teach them more about this important day?

A: I agree that Thanksgiving doesn’t get the same attention as other holidays. Yet it is an important part of American history that should not be relegated to a big meal. Here are a few ideas.

  • Print up a paper that says, “I am thankful for … ” and every day in November encourage your kids fill in the blank. Then, read a few of their answers on Thanksgiving.
  • Print up an Indian sign language chart and use them to tell a story.
  • Cook a few original colony foods (you can look these up on the Internet) and talk about the first feast.
  • Try your hand at several colonial crafts like weaving and pottery making with homemade clay.
  • Get an archery board and shoot arrows.
  • Build a campfire and try to cook something over it.

Activities like these will make the holiday come alive and give an appreciation of what times were like during colonial days.

Finally, find quotes about the holiday, such as this one from Abraham Lincoln: “But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.” Talk about what Lincoln meant and how your family can remember to give God the glory for all you have.

What do you do to teach your children about Thanksgiving?

Source: Read & Write Booklets: Thanksgiving: 10 Nonfiction Booklets That Teach About the Mayflower, Pilgrims, Wampanoag, and More! by Alyse Sweeney (Scholastic Teaching Resources, 2010)

Kid’s Life: What Are You Thankful For? by Jolene Evans

In Sunday School classrooms around the nation, children are being asked the age-old question, “What are you thankful for this year?” Colossians 3:15 says, “Be thankful.” But what does thankfulness really look like? True thankfulness comes from your heart, not just when you get what you want, but all the time. These children have learned to be thankful.

  • 96_thanksgiving.jpg“I’m thankful that even though my best friend moved away, she will still come back to visit me. I’m also thankful that I became a Christian this year.” — Lyndi, age 10
  • “I’m thankful for my home and my family.” — Aaron, age 10
  • “I’m thankful to Jesus that He loves me.” — Caitlyn, age 12
  • “I’m thankful I have enough food to eat and that I’m not in an orphanage. I’m also thankful God gave me a good family.” — Jamie, age 8
  • “I’m thankful that I have new kittens at my house. I really like it when they let me pet them and pick them up and show them to my mommy.” 
— Emily, age 3
  • “I’m thankful for Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.” 
— Katie, age 7
  • “I’m thankful for God, because I love God!” — Eddie, age 5
  • “I’m really thankful to God for my family because we have a lot of fun together. Oh, and I’m thankful all our cows have about had their babies.” 
— Kale, age 7
  • “I’m really glad I have a new bike. Now I can ride everywhere!” 
— Brian, age 8
  • “I’m thankful for my family because they are very special to me, and we have a lot of fun together.” 
— Kylee, age 10
  • “I’m thankful that when my daddy got sick, the rest of our family didn’t get sick. I’m especially glad my baby sister didn’t get sick!” — Josie, age 7
  • “I’m thankful that my daddy will come home soon. I miss him when he’s gone.” — Anna, age 10
  • “I’m thankful that my daddy has a new job. He’s more happy now.” 
— Bryce, age 4
  • “I’m thankful for my new computer so I can write and publish my own stories. I’m also thankful for all the animals and people on our farm. It’s so much fun!” 
— Jeanna, age 10
  • “I’m glad my grandpa has a tractor and a horse so I can ride with him.” 
— Alan, age 4
  • “I’m thankful I can read the Bible. I read a story about people who didn’t even have Bibles and it made me sad.” — Clayton, age 11
  • “I’m thankful for my dog. She is my best friend and I like to sleep with her.” — Ryann, age 9
  • “I’m thankful I have a new baby brother. He is really tired a lot, but I love him.” — Joshua, age 5
  • “I’m thankful for our new house.”  — Jack, age 6

Jolene Evans and her husband, Jim, spend their time finding new reasons to be thankful. They serve the Lord and homeschool their three daughters on their farm in rural Northwest Oklahoma.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving Day?

The Art of Good Manners

It is never too early to teach your youngest family member how to be a gracious guest. As holiday gatherings approach, prepare your child with some manners. Encourage her to try the following.

  • Look people in the eyes and say, “Hello.”94_child.jpg
  • Resist the temptation to complain — about the food, entertainment, or other guests.
  • Say, “Thank you” when served food or beverages.
  • Stay where the party is. Do not wander into rooms with closed doors.
  • Clean up after yourself. Do not expect someone else to do it.
  • Agreeably leave when Mom or Dad says it is time to go.
  • Thank the host and hostess for inviting you.

For more about manners be sure and check out "The Art of Saying Thanks" by Kay Harms in the November 2009 issue of ParentLife. Also check out these books on manners!

Holiday Safety Tips

Thanksgiving is just over a week away and many families are already putting up their Christmas decorations! The holidays are an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday season, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

Trees

  • 93_Christmas-tree.jpgWhen purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant."
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators, or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.

Lights

  • Check all tree lights — even if you have just purchased them — before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets, or loose connections.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Decorations

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
  • Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons, and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.

 

2009 – American Academy of Pediatrics

Stay tuned to the blog for even more safety tips from the AAP next week!

Remembering Heroes

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I always find this stretch of November keeps my mind focused on those who have given so much — a time for remembering those who are heroes and who have contributed to making me who I am today. In this season of Thanksgiving, I want to take time to say "Thank you!"

Many of us don’t think twice about celebrating November 1 as All Saint’s Day. However, I always think of what this day was meant to celebrate — those people who are important in our spiritual growth — the saints like my parents, grandparents, and Sunday School teachers who showed me Jesus’ love, read God’s Word to me, and taught me about Jesus. They may never get their own day of recognition, but I will always honor the time, energy, and love they invested to me. Mom and Dad, thank you for all that you have invested in me!

Flagliberty.jpgAnd tomorrow is Veterans Day. I salute those who have served our country and sacrificed so much. My own Dad never saw service during wartime but served dutifully at Fort Bragg, where he met my mother. My grandfather and my wife’s grandfather both served during World War 2 and battled in the South Pacific and Germany. For them, I am so thankful they served and got to hear their stories of why they fought — to protect the freedoms of those they love. Granddaddy Crayton, thank you for serving our country! I will continue to teach my children about those who have served and sacrificed so much for our freedom.

Who are some of the special people you would like to thank for their service to our country? Or who poured love and time into your life teaching you God’s Word? Take time today to tell them how thankful you are for them!

Thanksgiving — Just Around the Corner

It is hard to believe that it is already November and that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Thanksgiving is a holiday to do exactly what the name implies — to give thanks! But why do we need a holiday to remind us to give thanks?

We often get so busy that we forget how much we have to be thankful for. I know I am guilty of taking my many blessings for granted (even just in the past few weeks). So it is nice to have this special time during the year to slow down, take some deep breaths, and focus on giving thanks.

90_NovEditorialPhoto.jpgI personally have so much to be thankful for. My husband, Jason, has always been a fabulous husband, but over the past 16 months, he also has become an amazing father. Our son, Jack, brings joy to our lives each and every day. We have fantastic extended family on both sides … and most of them live close enough to be involved in our daily lives. Jack definitely has the best grandparents in the world! We have a beautiful home in a lovely town and a circle of fun, supportive friends. Jason and I both have jobs we love for companies that make a difference in people’s lives. We have truly been blessed well beyond what we deserve!

So this year, I want to make even more of an effort to thank God for these blessings. Not only that, but I want to make sure that the people in my life know how thankful I am for them. And I want to be sure to carry that spirit of thankfulness into 2010 and give thanks every day … not just on Thanksgiving Day.

The November 2009 issue of ParentLife is packed full of great ways your family can celebrate Thanksgiving together. Be sure not to miss it!

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?