Forcing, I Mean, Encouraging a Thankful Heart

by Jeanette Levellie

When our kids were small, we started a Thanksgiving Tradition that has proved to be a great source of fun and encouragement. We put each person’s name on a slip of paper and dropped them—the papers, not the people—in a basket or hat. After the meal, everyone drew a name from the basket—no peeking!
Then we sat with pen or pencil and paper—fancy stationery or plain copy paper—and wrote that person a note telling them why we were thankful for them. When the children were too small to write, they whispered their dictations to us.
When all were completed, we went around the table and read them aloud. Some brought laughter, others tears, all a sense of kinship and gratitude.
How amazing to see God’s hand at work during these “Thankful Letter” moments. A sister forced to write why she was thankful for her snotty little brother sees him in a new light for a moment; a dad suddenly realizes he needs to express his esteem for his son more often; a spouse receives a compliment for a quality they thought had gone unnoticed.
Hearts stir to new feelings of love and affirmation. God is proud. We are ministering to each other the way He intended when He created the family, bringing out the gifts in one another’s lives.  Thanksgiving becomes a time of refreshing our commitment to the ones we love most.
The Creator has placed people in our lives to make us better than we could be without them. He has put us in others’ lives to bring them closer to His good plan for them. Being thankful to Him for others is a way to celebrate His goodness. And a way to enlarge our hearts toward the goodness around us.
Now, here is my Thanksgiving note to you, dear friend: “I appreciate your giggles and smiles at my craziness, when others roll their eyes or shuffle their feet. I love you for believing in me when I couldn’t find the courage to believe in myself. I thank the Lord for causing our paths and pens to cross, and for using you to notice the stars in my heart, causing them to shine a little brighter. You are making a positive difference in one life—mine—and I suspect many others.  Thank you, thank you, thank God for you. I bless you.” 

If you dare to try our little tradition of penning notes of gratitude this Thanksgiving, I’d love to hear the results. You can email me at jeanettelevellie(at)gmail(dot)com, or find me on Facebook.  


  1. What a wonderful idea! I'm going to do this!

  2. Wonderful idea, Jeanette! Our Canadian Thanksgiving is long past, but stopping to appreciate the blessings brought into our lives by friends and family shouldn't be limited to Thanksgiving day. I think I'll have to try this soon... maybe at our Christmas gathering. Blessings to you, and Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Jeanette:
    This sounds like something to share with others. I like the idea of a spouse pointing out something the other has forgotten.

  4. Thank you, Jeanette. This post has come during a moment when I needed to read this very thing. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope you will always feel encouraged to keep on writing.

  5. Jessica: I hope you do; please let me know how it works for your family!

    Carol: You're right; we shouldn't limit our thanks to one day a year!

    Quiet: That's my favorite part, too.

    JLC: Wow. I'm so glad my words encouraged you. I hope that happy feeling stays with you...

  6. Hope all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Many blessings!


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