Putting the Thanks Back Into Thanksgiving

By Nancy Twigg

Thanksgiving is all about…well, you know what it’s all about. The question is how to make it more of that kind of celebration for your family. One way to enrich your family’s holiday is to incorporate meaningful activities into the day. Here are some ideas that will help put the thankfulness back into your family’s Thanksgiving.

  • Combine holiday decorating with expressions of thankfulness. Help the kids use construction paper and craft supplies to make colored leaves, pumpkins and other seasonal symbols. Then help them write reasons why they feel thankful on each cutout. Use these decorations to give the house a festive look.
  • Either before the feasting begins or after the meal, go around the table and ask each family member to finish this sentence; “This year I am most thankful for…” To keep it simple for small children, use the sentence starter, “I am thankful because…”
  • Make the Thanksgiving meal educational by letting the kids dress up as Pilgrims and Indians and eating foods similar to the ones the Pilgrims and Indians would have eaten. Children will learn a bit of history as you help them research what kinds of clothes were worn and what foods were eaten during that time period.
  • Invite someone to your family dinner who cannot celebrate Thanksgiving with his or her own family: an elderly person whose children live far away, a college student who cannot afford to travel, or a member of the armed services who is stationed far from home.
  • Sending Christmas cards is a common family tradition. Why not send Thanksgiving cards as well? Purchase blank greeting cards with a fall theme or make your own. Inside write a note thanking the recipient for something special she has done or the positive impact she has had on your life.
  • Use the Thanksgiving holiday to remember those who regularly go without enough to eat. As a family, decide to eat small meals the day before Thanksgiving to remind yourselves how it feels to have little to eat. Give the money that would have been spent on the day’s regular meals to an organization that feeds the hungry.
  • Throughout the month of November, read scriptures, poems or stories about thankfulness. As a family, talk about what the passages mean and how you can apply them to your lives.
  • Help someone from a foreign country experience a bit of American culture. Invite the person and his family to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family. Not only will your guests discover more about this country, but your family will also get the opportunity to interact with people from a different culture.
  • Express your thankfulness by sharing your blessings with the less fortunate. As a family, select a charity to support and devise a plan for how you will give to that organization. For example, have a family yard sale if temperatures permit and give a portion of your profits to the Salvation Army. Another idea if for all family members to save some of their allowances each week during November. Then use this money to buy groceries to donate to the local food bank.
  • Create a “blessing jar” or “blessing basket.” Put the basket or jar along with a pencil and pieces of paper in a central place in your home. Throughout November, ask family members to write some of their blessings on the pieces of paper and put them in the container. Read these blessings aloud during your Thanksgiving meal. At the end of the meal, say a prayer of thanks for all the ways in which your family has been blessed.

Nancy Twigg is the author of Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions (www.celebratesimply.com).

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