The green table is moving! I'll begin posting again after we're all set up in our new home!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankful Tree

It's time to start talking turkey, and that means preparing our children from Thanksgiving.  I love Thanksgiving! The turkey!  The pumpkin pie! From the long tables set with crisp tablecloths to long walks, crafting and family time after dinner - what a great day!  I find it mildly irritating that my husband would be just as happy with a bowl of popcorn and Diet Coke, because Thanksgiving is seriously one of my favorite holidays!

Most of the time when I use the word "holiday" I could just as easily call it a "holy day", and while we do have a Thanksgiving Eve service like so many other churches do, Thanksgiving is technically is not part of the church year.  Still, it's a great American holiday, and a wonderful opportunity to talk with our children about God's provision, teaching them to recognize and give thanks for His many gifts.

Remember my Spooky Tree?  I could hardly toss it with my October calendar.  Instead we are reinventing it for Thanksgiving, and likely again for Advent and Christmas too.  Creating a Thankful Tree is probably not the most original idea, but here you'll find a few tips and techniques that may be new to you.

The tree is really only a couple of  4' branches, spray painted black, green and silver placed in a glass vase, and weighed down with some smooth black river rocks, that also serve in holding my tree branches in place. For more detailed instructions for building the tree, check our my Spooky Tree post.

For better or worse, leaves in Florida are always green. If you are fortunate enough to live where the foliage displays it's colorful beauty, I really hope you seized the opportunity to press some leaves in your heaviest book.  Whenever we're lucky enough to be up North in the fall, we press as many leaves as we can! Many a year we have to improvise, and our faux fall leaves are great fun too.

If you forgot to collect, fear not! Use brown, green, red, orange, yellow and eggplant (yes, eggplant - these are my favorite!) colored scrapbook paper to cut out your leaves. If you're going to display your leaves on a tree the should all be the same type of leaf, so make a simple pattern by tracing around a leaf and then onto your scrapbook paper. 

Next, use red and yellow bingo markers and cover the leaves.  The red and yellow will bleed into each other to great effect, and will appear differently on each color of paper.  The best part about this step, other than it being completely haphazard and fun, is that the dampness from the watery markers makes the paper curl beautifully. Once they leaves are dry, use a sponge and some gold paint to dab on a little autumn glow.  Pretty!

Although our Thankful Tree stands in our living room, we keep a few leaves and gold pen tucked around our green kitchen table centerpiece to jot our thanks after dinner. 
Now, back to the tree!  Scatter your leaves (found, crafted or both) under your empty tree and as you find yourself thankful, use a gold marker to jot your thanks on a leaf then hang it on the tree.

I can't say I prance around the house feeling thankful all of the time.  All too often I think about what I wish I had, wish I could change, wish I could do, wish I didn't have to do. I-idise, who isn't infected by this selfish bug sometimes?  But then of course, only when we recognize our selfishness, our sin, can we truly recognize - and be endlessly thankful - for our Savior.  

If you find yourself struggling with leaves to add to your tree, start with Jesus.  His death, our forgiveness and salvation - even when you have nothing, you have Christ. Next look to the catechism.  As our family started thinking of a leaf or two to add each night after dinner, I quickly realized that everything we were listing (home, family, butterflies...) sounded familiar, "food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, devout husband or wife, devout children, devours workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like."  That's right, Luther covers it all in explanation of The Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread."

Attach the leaves to your tree by puncturing them with a threaded needle.  Tie off the thread in a little loop and hang from the tree. 

As you build your tree, review The Fourth Petition with your family, and have a thankful Thanksgiving!

ESV Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation - 1991 Edition
The Fourth Petition
Give us this day our daily bread.
Give us today our daily bread.

What does this mean?  God certainly give daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with THANKSGIVING. 

What is meant by daily bread?  Daily bread include everything that had to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors and the like. 

Also see questions 219-222 (pp 189-192) of Luther's Small Catechism

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