Thanksgiving Day

Click here for a printable version of the story.

Good morning and welcome. Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. In 1621, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians came together to give thanks for their abundant harvest. Do you know the first thing that the Pilgrims did when they landed at Plymouth Rock? (Pause – allow children to answer.) Yes, they knelt in prayer and thanked God for arriving safely.

In 1798, a little more than one hundred years after the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving, George Washington declared it a National holiday. He saw it as a day to give gratitude for all we have -specifically back then for the newly formed nation and freedom.

Would any of you like to share something, small or large, that you are thankful for? (Allow children to answer.)

America is not the only country to recognize how important it is to be grateful. People around the world in different cultures express their gratitude in various ways.

Our story today is a timeless tale that could take place in any country and at any time. It contains the message of how it important it is to give gratitude each day.

 

pilgrims-praying

The Inner Secret of Gratitude

Long ago, there was an old woodcutter who lived alone with his young daughter. Every day, the woodcutter went out to forest to cut limbs and bushes. He gathered his bundles and sold them in the marketplace as firewood. In this way, he earned just enough coins to buy food for the two of them.

One morning, the woodcutter’s daughter said, “Father, we always have enough to eat. I am grateful that we are not hungry. But just once, it would be nice to have something special. Do you think you could buy us some date cakes?”

“I think I could do that, my dear,” said the woodcutter. “I’ll just gather some extra wood today.” However, the woodcutter knew that extra wood was not always easy to come by and his day of work would be much longer. But he wanted to please his daughter so he traveled deep in the forest to find more wood. Yet, he could not bring back enough to buy the special cakes. What’s more by the time he returned with his bundle, darkness had fallen and it was too late to go to the marketplace. When he reached his house, the woodcutter found that his daughter had already bolted the front door and gone to bed.

The father pounded loudly yet there was no answer. He sank to the doorstep, tired and sad.

“What’s wrong, old man?”

He looked up to see a holy man standing before him.

“Holy sir, I have come home too late to get into my house. I worked very hard today and I’ve had nothing to eat.”

The holy man stood quiet, as if in meditation. Then he took some roasted chickpeas and raisins from his pouch and handed them to the woodcutter. “Here, share this with me.”

“Oh, thank you, sir!” said the hungry woodcutter. They sat in silence and then the holy man spoke.

“You are a good father who provides for his daughter and desires to make her happy. I would like to share a secret that will help you earn more to give to your child. However, you will have to promise to follow my instructions exactly. Are you willing to do that?”

“Oh, yes, holy one. What must I do?”

“First, create a shrine to your own Real Self located in the secret chamber of your heart. Each day kneel at the altar, go within your heart and offer a prayer of gratitude for all that you have. Then, on the last day of the week, find someone in need and share ten percent of your abundance. It is believed that what you offer will be returned to you in greater quantities. If you faithfully do this, you shall never go wanting.”

And with that, the holy man vanished. “Ten percent,” the old man thought. “Why I cannot earn enough now to buy sweet date cakes for my daughter.”

As the woodcutter sat there pondering this secret teaching, the front door swung open.

“Oh, Father, where have you been? Please come inside! I was so worried!”

Although, he was skeptical, as the weeks went by, the woodcutter did as the holy man advised. He created an altar to his Real Self, the God Self within his heart and meditated on this inner flame. He thanked God for all of his blessings. He shared ten percent of his earnings with someone less fortunate than him. And what do you think happened? (Pause – allow children to answer.) His abundance grew.

The woodcutter could buy date cakes and was able to build a new, beautiful home as well. Every day when he went into the forest, it seemed as if the trees and bushes were fuller. His bundles grew so large that he had to hire others to help him with his load.

In fact, he now had enough workers helping that he no longer had to gather the firewood himself. Instead of rising early to begin his day’s work, he slept later and ate when he pleased. And in his new life of abundance, he forgot what the holy man had told him and he no longer gave his devotions.

Within a year, something unexpected began happening. The workers would come back from the forest with the smallest bundles the old man had ever seen. “Where are the large loads?” he bellowed.

“The trees and bushes have thinned and there are too many of us cutting them. We can no longer provide the large amounts,” one of the workers replied.

And it was true. Within a short time, the woodcutter had to let all the workers go and he had to go back to cutting wood. One evening, tired and hungry, the old man left the forest with a small bundle to sell at market. He passed a family, looking cold and hungry. His heart felt a pang of compassion for this mother, father and two small children. “Here, sir,” he said to the father. “I have extra wood today. Take it to market where you will get a fair price. You can then feed your family. You can come work for me tomorrow if you are able.”

“You are a kind man. I will work tomorrow,” the father replied as he gratefully took the wood.

Suddenly, the woodcutter remembered the promise he had made to the holy man. Feeling sad that he had forgotten to continue this practice, he immediately knelt and prayed to his Real Self, first asking for forgiveness and then giving gratitude for his blessings. He went home that night hungry but fulfilled.

From that day on the old woodcutter never forgot his promise. He and his daughter lived long and happy lives, eating many date cakes, sharing with others and giving gratitude for all they had.

 

CONCLUSION:

Do you want to try to use this secret about gratitude?  (Pause) One way to do this is to thank God for something in your life each day.  This could be something large like freedom or small like a sweet date cake.

Thank you for sharing in our children’s story and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and those on the broadcast.

OPTIONAL ENDING:

Let’s end with our prayer, I AM Thankful by Lanello.

I AM Thankful

O mighty heart of God so pure,

I AM grateful now to thee.

O gracious arms of light secure,

I AM grateful so to be.

O circling bond of Love, endure,

I AM grateful to be free.

Thankful, thankful, thankful

AM I for thy love.

Thankful, thankful, thankful

I AM, O God above.

Thankful, thankful, thankful

AM I in thy name.

Thankful, thankful, thankful

I AM for each God-flame.

 

Children’s Spiritual Story Library


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