Making A Family Gratitude Journal {A Simple Thanksgiving Tradition}

By Courtney Dunkin, Contributing Writer

Throughout history, many cultures have held celebrations of thanksgiving to recognize their gratitude for what they have. Most often, traditional thanksgiving celebrations have been held during harvest time in the fall.

In the United States of America, our Thanksgiving has evolved into the start of the Christmas shopping season.

You’ve probably heard jokes about how we give thanks for what we have and then race to the stores to buy more things the very next day. There is certainly some truth to that. I am still working on stepping out of such a mindset myself, and you may be, too.

I believe we would all benefit greatly from stepping back and taking time to genuinely reflect on all that we have to be grateful for, and surely we would realize that our lives are overflowing with abundance in many ways.

Image by abbybatchelder

Cultivating a Grateful Heart

Each and every day, we as mothers tend the soil and sow deep roots in the hearts of our children. From teaching our children essential life skills to nurturing a love for God and for His Kingdom, we are more influential than we often realize.

Traditions are a great way to plant seeds in the hearts of our children. Traditions are one of the beautiful things about a family. We anticipate certain things year after year and we build memories around them. We grow together to discover one day just how cherished these memories become.

I want to share with you a new Thanksgiving tradition in our home. We have started a “journal of gratitude” in which we will write each Thanksgiving.

It is my hope that this tradition will foster a heart of gratitude in each of my children and will help my family see the blessings and the Lord’s provision over the years.

Image by Walt Stoneburner

Starting Your Own Gratitude Journal

It is quite simple and can be customized to fit your own unique family dynamic. All you need is a journal and pen. It can be anything from a fancy, leather-bound journal to a simple lined notebook.

Each year around Thanksgiving time, either on Thanksgiving Day or shortly before or after, gather the family and share with one another the things for which you are thankful. Children who are old enough to write can add to the journal in their own handwriting. Younger children can even draw pictures.

Last year, we made a “Thanksgiving Tree” in which we wrote down on cut out leaves things for which we were thankful and then hung them from branches in a vase. I kept some of the leaves and tucked them into our Thanksgiving journal.

Image by edenpictures

Recording God’s Blessings

I got this idea for a gratitude journal from my aunt and uncle who did this with their children when they were young. I recently asked my aunt for more details about keeping this tradition going.

She said she would have liked to have started it the year she and my uncle married, but she is glad she started it when her girls were still young and is now reaping the reward of looking back over this family treasure.

Our tradition is that each family member is to write five things they are thankful for. It has ranged from deep theology to “seeds” and “elephants.” I let the girls write what they wanted, so it says a lot about what was going on in their lives at the time. I love that it is a record of God’s blessings!”

This will only be our second year doing this in my household, but I can only imagine being able to look back over the years and see a “record of God’s blessings.”

I am a big fan of journaling. I’ve had many personal journals over the years, some set aside as “prayer journals,” and when I look back through these, I can see so clearly how the Lord has worked in my life, answering prayer and doing the impossible.

I have journals for each of my children, and when I look back through these, I have a renewed sense of gratitude for these blessings in my life. I can see that this Thanksgiving journal will also hold many treasures to be found years later and even passed on to future generations.

I am also hopeful that this simple act of giving thanks in this way will foster an even deeper appreciation for our blessings all year long.

Do you have holiday traditions that bring the focus in your home back to a heart of gratitude?

Continue cultivating a heart of gratitude in your children throughout the advent season with Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Adventure for Little HandsAs we approach Thanksgiving and the end of November, it’s the perfect time to consider what you will do this year to anticipate and understand our celebration of the birth of Christ. 

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

About Courtney

Courtney is passionate about natural and simple living. She believes in taking the time to nurture her family with nourishing food and healing through nature, knowing that God is the giver of life and that he has supplied us with ample resources for health and healing. She blogs at Simply Nurtured, where she shares her thoughts on raising a healthy family, with the belief that the foundation for a healthy life begins in the womb and in the early years. She also owns the Simply Nurtured Shop, where she sells natural products for mom and baby.

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  1. I love this idea! I think I might use it next week. I like that it’s nice for the kids and adults.

    I would love it if you linked up with me on my new Eco Kids Tuesdays.

  2. Each of us have a notebook that we use for a gratitude journal which I had each of my little’s decorate the cover and give it a title such as My Gratitude Journal. Each day they write the date and write Today I am thankful for….and they write down people and other things they are thankful for each day. I have them work on penmanship, spelling and punctuation at the same time. Every Thursday we call Thankful Thursday and we each set out to thank people during our day and then at supper we talk about all the things people do for us that we are thankful for.

    During the month of November we have a big paper on the wall and we write and draw pictures of what and who we are thankful for all through the month. It hangs on our kitchen wall so we are reminded frequently about thankfulness. We spend some time each day thanking God for individual people and praying for their needs…such as our mailmans, extended family, teachers, the check out clerks…ect…We are also writing letters of thanks to people we don’t get to see very often. We carry our focus of thankfulness into the month of Christmas which I think helps keep the “I want” or greed monster away. We do this by being thankful for what we do have and taking inventory of what we no longer need but could serve or help someone else and then they help wash and clean the toys or whatever it is we are giving. I also have them put money away through out the year so that they may be able to buy things for others at this time of year.

  3. We tried adding a family gratitude journal to our family holiday celebration. Everyone thought it was a good idea. Almost none of us did it. Maybe we should give it another try this year.

    • It took me a whole year to start ours! I put it off the first year I heard about it because I thought I needed to find a “pretty journal”. The next year, I ended up going with a simple one, nothing fancy or expensive, and I dove right in. I know there will be years I’ll struggle to do it…my aunt said there were years she didn’t get around to it, and she’s absolutely wonderful about those family things, so if she didn’t get to it some years, surely I will slip. I hope to always get back to it the next year if I do. And I hope once it becomes more of an established tradition that the kids will help me to make sure it happens. :)

  4. This is a great idea, thank you!

    • Also wanted to add, we created a family thankful song we sing most nights during family devotions. We each think of something as we think back over our day and add it in during the “we are thankful for ______” part we each take a turn. Its been a huge impact on me.