"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 Thanksgiving (U.S.), Advent and Christmas seasons call for a special outpouring of gratitude.
Use this calendar to engage in daily acts of gratitude and kindness. Most of them can either 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.
Sunday, Nov. 19-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. 20-Thank God for the weather. Whether sunny, rainy, snowy or windy, find the good in the forecast.
Tuesday, Nov. 21-Hand write and mail a note to someone you admire or appreciate in your life.
Wednesday, Nov. 22-Volunteer to read to nursing home residents.
Thursday, Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day (U.S.)-Read Psalm 100 to begin your time of everyone sharing blessings of the past year.
Friday, Nov. 24-Smile and greet everyone you see throughout the day. Ask how they are – then LISTEN to what they say.
Saturday, Nov. 25-As a family, rake a neighbor's leaves.
Sunday, Nov. 26, 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. 27-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. 28, UMC #GivingTuesday-Donate to an UMCOR Advance project as a Christmas gift in honor of someone.
Wednesday, Nov. 29-Take flowers or a nice plant to the church secretary.
Thursday, Nov. 30-Volunteer to provide childcare for someone.
Friday, Dec. 1, World AIDS Day-Take good magazines and leave in the hospital waiting room.
Saturday, Dec. 2-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.
Sunday, Dec. 3, 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. 4-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. 5-Share a favorite book with someone...and encourage them to pass it on.
Wednesday, Dec. 6-Let the person behind you at the grocery store cut in line
Thursday, 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.
Friday, Dec. 8-Offer to babysit for free to give young parents a night out.
Saturday, Dec. 9-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.
Sunday, Dec. 10, 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. 11-Volunteer a few hours at an animal shelter to care for God's creatures who need to feel loved.
Tuesday, Dec. 12-Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 silently or with your family. Talk about blessings you find in difficulties you are facing.
Wednesday, Dec. 13-Make a casserole or dinner to be placed in your church freezer for anyone who needs it.
Thursday, Dec. 14-Thank God for quenching your thirst – be it with a drink or companionship, inspiration or spiritual guidance
Friday, Dec. 15-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. 16-Tape a $5 bill to a jug of milk in the grocery store
Sunday, Dec. 17, 3rd Sunday in Advent-Phone a friend or relative. Tell them "I was thinking of you so thought I'd call."
Monday, Dec. 18-Write a personal note of thanks or encouragement to your local church clergy.
Tuesday, Dec. 19-Visit a local non-profit to learn about their work and thank them for serving.
Wednesday, Dec. 20-Tell someone why you appreciate them.
Thursday, Dec. 21-Be grateful for silence when you can grab a quiet time and say a simple prayer.
Friday, Dec. 22-Take or ship a friend in need of comfort a meal or treat.
Saturday, Dec. 23-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. 24, 4th Sunday in Advent/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.
Monday, 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.
Tuesday, Dec. 26--Carry hand-written thank you cards that might include a gift card through a public area. Give to any military personnel you encounter.
Wednesday, Dec. 27-Take a picture for a tourist or a local family on an outing.
Thursday, Dec. 28-Smile and hold doors open for people wherever you go; say "hello" to a stranger.
Friday, Dec. 29-Sit out on your porch or front stoop, or just look out the window, and pray for each person who drives by.
Saturday, Dec. 30-Help a family member accomplish something on their to-do list.
Sunday, Dec. 31, New Year's Eve-Ask a teacher at your church or child's school what school supplies their students most need. Buy some for them.
Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, New Year's Day-Start a gratitude journal to increase your awareness of the blessings in your life.
Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018-Compliment a co-worker or classmate on something you respect about him or her.
Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018-Purchase $5 gift cards for a nearby inexpensive restaurant, and share them with people you see who are homeless or otherwise in need.
Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018-Begin the practice of having every family member at the dinner table share something he/she is grateful for that day.
Friday, Jan. 5, 2018-Collect canned goods for a local food bank. (What they received in the weeks before Christmas is already gone.)
Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, Day of the Epiphany-Begin reading the slips of paper in your gratitude jar (Nov. 19). Plan how you will continue to express gratitude for God's blessings every day.
Thank you to those who contributed ideas for this Gratitude Calendar: Alabama-West Florida Conference: Mary Catherine Phillips; Baltimore-Washington Conference: the Rev. Erik Alsgaard; Christ United Methodist Church, Franklin, Tennessee: Anne Weinberg; Ethos Church, Nashville, Tennessee: Emily Snell; First United Methodist Church, Franklin, Tennessee: Cindy Solomon; General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the Rev. Victoria Rebeck; Great Plains Conference, Todd Seifert; Green Hills Church, Nashville, Tennessee: Polly House; South Carolina Advocate: Jessica Brodie; United Methodist Communications: Steven Adair, Myca Alford, the Rev. Teresa Angle-Young, Crystal Caviness, the Rev. Ryan Dunn, Stacey Hagewood, Darby Jones, Dana Niedziela, Greg Petree, Kim Sanderson, Fran Walsh.