Creating Thanksgiving traditions
Learn how to create your own Thanksgiving traditions.
Turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied yams with marshmallows and pumpkin pie are all terrific traditions of the holiday. Thoughts of Thanksgiving bring a host of taste-related memories, but Thanksgiving is more than stuffing our faces and then crashing for a nap on the couch. Thanksgiving is a time to get together with family and be thankful for the blessings and people in our lives.
When we are kids, we are surrounded by the traditions that our parents remember from when they were growing up. As we start our own families, though, creating Thanksgiving traditions with our children can be one of the best parts of the holiday season.
- Try a new turkey. Turkey is the traditional meal for Thanksgiving, but each region of the United States has their own variations of the big bird. Research some of these recipes with your family, and decide on something to try. Maybe salt-encrusted turkey from New England, or coffee-rubbed turkey like they eat in Hawaii. Or buy a big deep fryer and go Southern.
- Get off the couch and into the yard. Yes, Thanksgiving is also synonymous with football. But football doesn't have to be a spectator sport. Get the family together in the back yard and have a good old-fashioned game of touch football.
- Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. While the turkey is roasting and filling the house with good smells, sit down together and watch the Macy's parade.
- Make it about others. Not everyone has family close by to spend the holidays with. Make a tradition of sharing with others by inviting someone to enjoy the meal with you and yours.
- Have a history lesson. Find a simple picture book telling of the first Thanksgiving, and have story time. Kids love to be read aloud to, and you might learn something, too.
Ways to Give Thanks
Don't forget, though, that Thanksgiving is about more than food and football and pilgrims. Thanksgiving was created as a national day of giving thanks. If you are religious, this means giving thanks to God, or your version of the Big Guy. If you aren't religious, this means giving thanks to those around you. Here are some ways to remember to give thanks.
- Kernels of thanks. The Pilgrims celebrated their feast of Thanksgiving so that they would not forget the famine and suffering they had endured to make their life in the New World. At one point, their daily ration of food was down to a few kernels of corn each. Try this: place a couple corn kernels next to each place and then pass a basket. As each person places their kernels in the basket, they can share the things they are most grateful for.
- Be thankful for each other. Get the kids involved by making place cards for the table. Cut pieces of card stock into fourths, and then trace your child's hand on each piece. Turn the hand into a turkey by adding eyes, a beak and wattle (that red hangy-thing on the neck) to the thumb. Decorate with markers and crayons, and then write the phrase, I am thankful forů on each one. Add the name of each person who will be joining you for dinner and place them on the table. As you celebrate, you will be reminded of the gift of each other.
- Thanks through the years. Purchase a plain white tablecloth and some fabric pens. Lay the tablecloth over the table in the morning, but don't set it just yet. Leave the fabric pens out, and have everyone write their name, the year and the thing they are most thankful for. Next year, set the tablecloth out again and remember the things you were grateful for. Then add your thanks for the current year. When the tablecloth fills up, just think of all the good memories it will contain.
Thanksgiving can be one of the best days of the year. Don't wait; start creating Thanksgiving traditions of your own.