Preparing for the Holidays with Thanksgiving

I flip my calendar to November and it begins.

Though the weather outside is no different than it was in October, television commercials reflect snowy days and tinkling bells. Stores are dressed in green and red. Officially, it has begun- the holidays.

If I didn’t know better, it would be easy to think that this season is really about turkeys and presents and eating far too much. If I didn’t know better, it would be easy to believe that it is the season of spending, of parties, of decorating and detailing and going all out. 

But this is not the truth. 

It is now November. And I want to live out these days with my eyes on the things that matter most. I do not want to rush, and I do not want to spend all my time thinking about presents and trees.

Instead, this month, I want to stop and see. I want to reject the coveting and instead find ways to reflect on all that I have been given already. I want to be thankful for the simple and small. I want to feel grateful that I have a place to be, food to eat, children to love and a life that is marked by faith. And I want my family to do the same.

And so I will ignore the advertising and mute the commercials. I will find a way to gather my family close and ask them to reflect on their blessings, both small and large, so that we can remember together to see what’s important. 

Because I know that we sometimes forget. We forget that blessings don't come from the store they come from above. James 1:17 tells us, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." Blessing flow from above and we have an should overflow with gratitude in response.

And I know that we sometimes believe the messages we hear from the world. And for this season, I want to be mindful of this and respond in a way that helps us find balance during a time of too much. I want to teach my children that we can be still in a time of rushing, that we can say thank you in a season of requests. We can choose to:

  • Look for ways that we can extend God’s grace into the lives of others.
  • Make time for reflecting on God and his gifts in worship around the table.
  • Turn off the TV and spend time investing in one another.
  • Spend time in worship together focusing on the true meaning of the season.
  • Invest in the gift of time together as a family over buying more things.

It is November and it has begun. But in the end, I have the final say about how we approach it all. And I know that there is no better way to prepare for the holidays than to create a habit of gratitude in our home.

Thanking God for all He has given us will help us to see that Christmas has more to do with Thanksgiving than any commercial will show.

About the author — Nadia Swearingen-Friesen

Nadia Swearingen-Friesen is a writer and national speaker with a passion for empowering parents to approach their families with great intentionality and grace.  Nadia and her husband, Mark, are the parents of four children and live in the Chicago area. Nadia also blogs at

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