Monday, 07 November 2016 08:02

The Blessing Basket: A Family Tradition for Thanksgiving and All Year

Written by  Karen O’Connor
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“Daddy, I know what I wanna put in our blessing basket,” said six-year-old Dena as her father walked in from the office. “I got to be line leader at school. Can we thank God for that?”

This scene occurred at Pastor Mike’s home. He and his family had begun keeping track of their daily blessings by writing them down on slips of paper and accumulating them in a large basket placed on the dining room table.

Pastor Mike shared this story with me a few weeks after he heard me talk about our family custom of keeping a Blessing Basket.  He and his wife decided to include this practice in their family life. In just a few days, it had made a “positive difference” in their conversation around the dinner table. Each of his four daughters had something uplifting to say about her day and then eagerly jotted it down and added it to the Blessing Basket.


I loved hearing this. It confirmed in my heart and mind the value of this custom that had been passed on to me by a woman I met years ago when I was going through a difficult time in my life.


Grumbling or Gratitude?

“If you want to be content,” she had said, “focus your energy on giving thanks. You might even jot down your blessings on slips of paper and accumulate them in a bag or a basket.  When it fills up, read what you’ve written. You’ll be surprised at how God has been there for you all along.”


My husband and I adopted this idea immediately. Several months later we propped ourselves up in bed one morning and dumped the papers on our quilt and read them one by one. What an eye-opener it was!


•  Healing of a hurt relationship.

•  A new book contract for me

•  Our daughter accepted at the college of her choice

•  The birth of baby birds in the tree outside our bedroom window

•  A misunderstanding with a co-worker cleared up


Our Blessing Basket bulged with a written record of God’s daily blessings in our lives. By the time we got to the last scrap of paper our eyes were wet. How could we ever doubt that God provides for all our needs! 


Miles of Gratefulness

The more we became alert to life around us––from the delicate flowers on the hillside along the freeway, to the presence of a good friend when we needed a confidant––we became more and more grateful as individuals and as a couple. An inch of awareness led to miles of gratefulness. 


But giving thanks does not seem to come naturally. We have to be taught. We need to learn and practice this ‘discipline.’  Remember in Luke’s Gospel (chapter 17) where Jesus healed ten lepers, yet only one returned to give thanks?


“He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him––and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’”   (vs. 16-18).


“Thank you”––two words that have been in short supply for centuries––in our homes, offices, churches, and communities. Many children are growing up in such plenty, they may not realize how much they have to be grateful for. They need to be taught that life is a gift, not an entitlement! And the more we all begin to view our lives through the lens of gratitude the more humility and joy we experience. We can begin to count all of life good.


“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude...” (1Tim. 4:4 NAS).


Family Blessing Basket

You may be thinking even as you read this article how a Blessing Basket in your home could transform conversations, prayers, attitudes, even relationships in your family. I hope you will consider making it a communal project. Get everyone involved. You may wish to decorate the basket, then label it (Johnson’s Blessing Basket or Our Blessing Basket) and set it in a prominent place in your house where it’s accessible to everyone.


Add a pile of cut paper, put out a few pens or pencils and some colorful stickers and markers. Then spend a few moments each day talking about what there is today to be grateful for at home, in school, at work, and in the world around you. Invite each child to write down or draw a picture of what he/she is thankful for and then put the papers into the basket. At the end of each week, take turns reading a few aloud and talking about them.


Pass on the Blessing

You can bless others, as well, by giving away Blessing Baskets as gifts, writing an annual thank you letter as a family to friends and relatives who have contributed to you in special ways.  You might want to create a collage of photos that depict some of the many blessings God has given your family and then hang them in your home for all to see. And you can end each day sharing an original prayer of thanks with your children before they go to sleep.


By practicing some of these customs, you will not only raise children with hearts of gratitude but you also will be carrying out Paul’s reminder to “...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Th 5:18 NIV).


Karen O’Connor is an award-winning Christian writer and speaker who lives in Watsonville, California. Visit Karen at


Last modified on Monday, 07 November 2016 08:07
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