The Thanksgiving Box

November 22, 2011 by Paul Chappell

It’s just a simple box on the closet shelf of our bedroom, but it holds years of memories.

I first got the idea to incorporate the “Thanksgiving Box” into part of our family holiday tradition when our children were quite young. One year, after our Thanksgiving dinner, I gave each of the children a sheet of paper and a pencil, and I asked them to write down the top five things they were grateful for. This was not a pressured activity to think of the best things, nor was it a competition to see who could come up with the most. It was simply an exercise to write down what God had done for us. Terrie and I wrote our own lists as well. When everyone was finished, we put our lists into the creatively-named “Thanksgiving Box.”

The following year, we repeated the tradition. Only this time, we gave each child their list from the previous year to read before writing a new list. They enjoyed remembering the blessings of the previous year, and their old lists helped to ignite their gratitude for writing a new list.

Over the years, the time we spent with the Thanksgiving Box drew us closer as a family and deepened each of our awareness of God’s blessings.

As all of our children are now grown, the Thanksgiving Box is retired. But it’s not forgotten. I often pull the box off the closet shelf and pull out a few of the early lists my children wrote. It’s refreshing to see how little it took to make them thankful—“Dad, Mom, a Christian school, turkey, friends…”—blessings that we daily take for granted. Reading their lists reminds me anew of how much God has done for me. Invariably, I find myself thanking God for His daily blessings in my own life.

Perhaps your family would find a Thanksgiving Box helpful. Or perhaps, you simply need to take a moment to reminisce over God’s great blessings in your life. Don’t let this Thanksgiving pass without specifically thanking God for His goodness.


  1. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing! My wife and I are about to have our first child the end of February 2012. This is definitely something I would like to incorporate into our family tradition.

    Comment by Joseph Faulk — November 22, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  2. Thank God for this Thanksgiving box idea!!! God bless your heart for sharing this with us, Bro. Chappell.
    We have started to do this in our family, but never thought about the box, neither about reviewing the past list the year after.
    Surely our kids would love to decorate the Thanksgiving box.
    Have a great Thanksgiving Day in our Lord and Saviour.
    Praying for you and your family.

    Comment by Lolita — November 22, 2011 @ 10:40 am

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