While most people associate holiday traditions with Christmas, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to develop family traditions as well.
Thanksgiving Eve Meal
Most families have special foods that they serve on Thanksgiving. But what about having a special meal each year on Thanksgiving Eve? Since most of the time people are busy with final preparations for the holiday, make it something easy. Carryout? Chinese? Pizza? Or maybe do a buffet where each member of the family requests a favorite easy finger food and this becomes the meal.
Choose a special box, jar or tin to be the Thanksgiving Box. Every week of the year have each family member write on a slip of paper something for which they are thankful that week as well as their name. Each slip is deposited into the Thanksgiving Box without being shared with anyone else. Beginning the week before Thanksgiving, remove several slips each day and read them aloud. If the author wishes to share more about what motivated the slip, allow time for stories to be shared.
Set up a table or workspace where your children can do special Thanksgiving related crafts for the week or so before Thanksgiving. Make the goal to create special items that can be shared with the elderly, shut-ins, or someone who is far away from family during the holiday. Deliver the craft and a small food gift on the day before Thanksgiving.
Share the Bounty
Many people either do not have family with whom they can share the holiday or they live too far away to gather with their loved ones. This might include singles, college students far from home, international students, or widows/widowers. Consider inviting a few such people to share the bounty at your Thanksgiving celebration. Invite them to join your family for a meal and informal time spent playing games, doing puzzles, telling stories, singing or just hanging out together.
Each year, prepare a page in a scrapbook for each member of the family. Include a few pictures from the previous twelve months and leave room for each person to add their own Thanksgiving thoughts. If your family keeps a Thanksgiving Box, the slips of paper in there can be very helpful in deciding what to write on the page.
Put all of your Thanksgiving books in a basket and place it in a cozy corner along with some comfy blankets. Spend some time each day enjoying cuddling and reading as a family.
Instead of joining the millions of other people out frantically searching for a bargain the day after Thanksgiving, stay home and make it a yearly Family Friday. Turn off the phone, the computer, and the TV. Wear comfy clothes, play games, watch a movie together, and just generally enjoy being a family. Rather than rush off from Thanksgiving, extend the holiday and spend it truly enjoying one of the things for which you are most thankful – your family. Establish a tradition of making Mexican, pizza or something else completely different from the Thanksgiving meal. (The holiday leftovers will keep until Saturday!)
Whatever traditions you choose, do something that will set Thanksgiving apart for your family and provide you with treasured memories in the years ahead!