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Monday, November 10, 2008

Keeping the Thanks in Thanksgiving

Many times through the years I’ve gotten caught up in the preparation and busy-ness of this season and missed the opportunity to reflect on the true meaning of Thanksgiving until we sit down for grace. Then it’s back to catching up with loved ones, small talk and second helpings giving way to paging through ads planning the next day’s shopping strategy.

Now that I have a little one underfoot, I’ve been thinking about the memories I want her to have of this holiday and the traditions I’d like to start for our family. I’ve done some advanced planning, and come up with some fun and easy activities to help remind us of the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

The Blessings Game – Sitting in a group, go around the room and each person take a turn saying one thing they are thankful for. Keep going until someone can’t think of something, and then they are “out”. Listen to the answers get sillier as each participant tries to think quickly on his or her feet.

Write place cards for each person at Thanksgiving dinner, and on the back write a reason you are thankful for them.

Have family members write each other notes as to why they are thankful for each other and save them to place in the stockings that will soon be hung by the fire.

Go through closets and pantries looking for items you no longer need or want, and donate them as a family to a charitable organization. Talk to your children about why you are donating these items and how they are going to a family that is less fortunate than your own.

Take a family trip to the grocery and shop for non-perishable items to donate to a local food pantry. Encourage your children to choose items they think less fortunate children would like to eat for the holidays. A variation on this would be to shop for some toys to donate to Toys for Tots.

What activities and traditions do you follow at Thanksgiving? I would love to hear your ideas!

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HeatherPride said...

We still haven't come up with a real tradition between my husband's family and my own. Each of us loves their own family more so we end up bouncing around between the two. One of these days we'll get it together!

Mommy2Twinkies-Deb said...

Steph, I LOVE LOVE these! I'm going to take them with me. Unfortunately, we live way too far away from my family to have dinner with them, but we're starting our very own little family tradition at the beach (much to my MILs dismay...) Thank you!

Brooke said...

These are great suggestions that I will be taking advantage of this season! One variation I've heard of, but have not tried, is that as each guest comes in the door, they need to fill out a piece of paper saying what they are thankful for. All of these are put in a basket. When it's time to say grace, the basket is passed around and each person has to pull out a "Thanks" and read it out loud. It would work well in bigger groups, and the hope is that you don't pull out your own piece of paper.

Tara @ Feels like home said...

We don't have any big traditions yet, either. I wish we did. We host Thanksgiving every year, so we have the opportunity, and, like you, I want to celebrate gratitude along with the big family holiday.

Thanks for a great list of ideas! :)

Octamom said...

One year the kids and I came up with a list of several things we were thankful for about each person in the family (including extended family who were our guests for the big meal) and printed out those lists on pretty paper, rolled them up and tied them off with raffia. Those Thankful Scrolls were then placed on each person's plate at the table. It was so sweet to go around the table and have each person read why we were thankful for them....


Eli's Lids said...

These are great ideas! Here is one we are starting this year: Cut thanksgiving colored paper into (about) 1" x 7" strips. Write one thing you are thankful for on each of the strips. Staple the strips into circles and make a paper chain to decorate your dining room. Every night the week before thanksgiving take turns reading what is on the strips as a reminder of what you are thankful for. Then pray a prayer of thankfulness.

Elsa said...

It's a lovely way to celebrate Thanksgiving with it's complete traditional values.