O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth forever.”
—Psalm 118:1 KJV

As the holidays approach, our homes and activities reflect past family traditions. We spread tables with old family recipes, decorate trees with heirloom ornaments, send relatives and friends sentimental greeting cards, and gather loved ones to watch It‘s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol for the trillionth time.

Who can forget Scrooge’s chilling visit from his dead business partner, Jacob Marley—his ghostly spirit bound with chains? Condemned to wander Earth weighted down due to his greedy and self-serving life, he’d returned with the hope he could spare Scrooge the same fate. 

“You are fettered,” said Scrooge, trembling. “Tell me why?”

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the ghost. “I made it link by link and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” 

Life gets heavy. Sometimes its weight is the result of carrying chains we’ve forged for ourselves. At others times, we’re weighted down by circumstances beyond our control. Some people bear physical chains, while others struggle beneath mental and emotional ones. 

The Apostle Paul was unjustly imprisoned and held in iron chains, yet his spirit roamed free. He professed he was “in chains for Christ.” He chose to lighten life’s load by thanking God in his trials and focusing on his blessings. We can do the same. 

Perhaps a part of your family’s tradition has been to make paper chains in anticipation of a special event—summer vacation, a holiday, or someone’s birthday. As family members took turns tearing off links, you counted down the days till the celebration. If you’ve never participated in this meaningful activity, November would be an excellent time to start. But, instead of counting down—let’s count up. Let’s use the links of our chains to count our blessings daily as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones. 

To create a Thanksgiving chain, cut fall-colored strips of paper or use the web address provided to print out decorative strips for links. Cut the strips apart and ask family members to write something  each day that they’re thankful for. Then tape the links together. By Thanksgiving Day, you’ll have a festive decoration to hang near your table or to use as a table runner. Before your meal, pass around the chain and have each person read one of the blessing links. Continue to pass it until all are read. Then, with grateful hearts, thank God for the blessings he provides—blessings that connect his heart to ours and ours to those we love. 

Now it’s your turn. Share a holiday tradition your family enjoys? 

I always welcome your comments.

To access the printable chain, click the following link: Printable Paper Chain. For a more colorful chain, print images on both sides of the paper.

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