Adapted from November-December 2017 Interpreter Magazine article
"Gratitude is at the heart of the Christian faith," says the Rev. Kent Millard, president of United Theological Seminary. While every day should be a day of thanksgiving to God, the weeks encompassing the seasons of Thanksgiving (U.S.), Advent and Christmas call for a special outpouring of gratitude.
Here is a calendar to help you engage in daily acts of gratitude and kindness. Most of them can be done alone or with family or friends. Some require a bit of planning, so you may want to look ahead a few days, or make arrangements to do the actual activity a few days later. You can start anytime in this season, but be sure to begin with a gratitude jar.
Sunday, Nov. 18-Put a gratitude jar in the kitchen with scraps of paper. Encourage people daily to write down things for which they are grateful. Read them on Epiphany (Jan. 6).
Monday, Nov. 19-Thank God for the weather. Whether sunny, rainy, snowy or windy, find the good in the forecast.
Tuesday, Nov. 20-Hand write and mail a note to someone you admire or appreciate in your life.
Wednesday, Nov. 21-Volunteer to read to nursing home residents.
Thursday, Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day (U.S.)-Read Psalm 100 to begin your time of everyone sharing blessings of the past year.
Friday, Nov. 23-Smile and greet everyone you see throughout the day. Ask how they are – then LISTEN to what they say.
Saturday, Nov. 24-As a family, rake a neighbor's leaves.
Sunday, Nov. 25, United Methodist Student Day-Find a former teacher. Thank them for the impact they had on you with a handwritten note, flowers or a gift card.
Monday, Nov. 26-Print out or draw a coupon book of helpful acts to give as a gift – do the dishes, sweep the floor, dust the living room tables, take out the trash, etc.
Tuesday, Nov. 27, UMC #GivingTuesday-Donate to an UMCOR Advance project as a Christmas gift in honor of someone.
Wednesday, Nov. 28-Take flowers or a nice plant to the church secretary.
Thursday, Nov. 29-Volunteer to provide childcare for someone.
Friday, Nov. 30 -Leave sticky notes on various cars in store parking lots or on bathroom stalls in rest areas or public restrooms with simple messages of gratitude or kindness.
Saturday, Dec. 1-World AIDS Day-Take good magazines and leave in the hospital waiting room.
Sunday, Dec. 2, 1st Sunday in Advent and Global Migration Sunday-Spend an hour taking a prayer walk through a natural area. Thank God for the earth and offer blessings for all of creation.
Monday, Dec. 3-During Advent, commit to placing only positive messages on social media. Consider tweeting or posting a photo of something for which you are grateful each day.
Tuesday, Dec. 4-Share a favorite book with someone...and encourage them to pass it on.
Wednesday, Dec. 5-Let the person behind you at the grocery store cut in line
Thursday, Dec. 6 - Look for (and find) people who are doing a good job at a less-than-glamorous task and thank them for their good work. Let their managers know as well.
Friday, Dec. 7- Pearl Harbor Day-Send a note to any WWII veterans in your town thanking them for their service. If you don't know any of the vets, thank their survivors or descendants.
Saturday, Dec. 8- Offer to babysit for free to give young parents a night out.
Sunday, Dec. 9, 2nd Sunday in Advent-Visit a neighbor you have not seen for a while. Offer to help them with something, pray for them or invite them to join you for dinner.
Monday, Dec. 10-Volunteer a few hours at an animal shelter to care for God's creatures who need to feel loved.
Tuesday, Dec. 11-Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 silently or with your family. Talk about blessings you find in difficulties you are facing.
Wednesday, Dec. 12-Make a casserole or dinner to be placed in your church freezer for anyone who needs it.
Thursday, Dec. 13-Thank God for quenching your thirst – be it with a drink or companionship, inspiration or spiritual guidance
Friday, Dec. 14-Make handcrafted greeting cards with a personal message to show the recipients they are a special enough to be sent something made by you.
Saturday, Dec. 15-Tape a $5 bill to a jug of milk in the grocery store
Sunday, Dec. 16, 3rd Sunday in Advent-Phone a friend or relative. Tell them "I was thinking of you so thought I'd call."
Monday, Dec. 17-Write a personal note of thanks or encouragement to your local church clergy.
Tuesday, Dec. 18-Visit a local non-profit to learn about their work and thank them for serving.
Wednesday, Dec. 19-Tell someone why you appreciate them.
Thursday, Dec. 20-Be grateful for silence when you can grab a quiet time and say a simple prayer.
Friday, Dec. 21-Take or ship a friend in need of comfort a meal or treat.
Saturday, Dec. 22-Pay the toll or the drive-thru coffee or meal of someone behind you. Ask the cashier to give the recipient a note with a gratitude or kindness message. Thank the cashier.
Sunday, Dec. 23, 4th Sunday in Advent - Carry hand-written thank you cards that might include a gift card through a public area. Give to any military personnel you encounter.
Monday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve - Make eye contact with each family member or close friend sharing the day with you. Tell them three reasons you are thankful for them.
Tuesday, Dec. 25--Christmas Day-Start your Christmas morning by reading Luke 2 and having each person share what the gift of Jesus Christ means to them. Thank God for the gift of Jesus.
Wednesday, Dec. 26-Take a picture for a tourist or a local family on an outing.
Thursday, Dec. 27-Smile and hold doors open for people wherever you go; say "hello" to a stranger.
Friday, Dec. 28-Sit out on your porch or front stoop, or just look out the window, and pray for each person who drives by.
Saturday, Dec. 29-Help a family member accomplish something on their to-do list.
Sunday, Dec. 30 -Ask a teacher at your church or child's school what school supplies their students most need. Buy some for them.
Monday, Dec. 31 -New Year's Eve - Purchase $5 gift cards for a nearby inexpensive restaurant and share them with people you see who are homeless or otherwise in need.
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, New Year's Day - Start a gratitude journal to increase your awareness of the blessings in your life.Compliment a co-worker or classmate on something you respect about him or her.
Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019-Compliment a co-worker or classmate on something you respect about him or her.
Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019-Begin the practice of having every family member at the dinner table share something he/she is grateful for that day.
Friday, Jan. 4, 2019-Collect canned goods for a local food bank. (What they received in the weeks before Christmas is already gone.)
Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 - Call or visit a shut-in, family member or friend you haven't seen or talked with in awhile.
Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 - Day of the Epiphany-Begin reading the slips of paper in your gratitude jar (Nov. 18). Plan how you will continue to express gratitude for God's blessings every day.