Thanksgiving Traditions.

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Many years ago, I had my own craft business. One of the things I sold were some wooden pieces which I painted to look like a turkey head and five colored feathers. These pieces all had pointed wooden dowels attached to the end of them so they could stick into a real pumpkin. Every year at Halloween I buy a pumpkin to use on Thanksgiving day. (I’ve found that for some reason, pumpkins aren’t available in the stores after Halloween.) I search for the perfect pumpkin. I needs to be round, but with one flat side so it doesn’t role all over the porch. On Thanksgiving day, Bob and I assemble the “Turkey Pumpkin” and put it out to greet our guests. My grandchildren love that it’s waiting there when they arrive. It’s a tradition.

Thanksgiving is upon us and it’s, what I consider, the official start of the holiday season. With the holidays, comes the celebration of many family traditions. I love the holidays and our family has lots of traditions. And, even though my children are grown with families of their own, many of those traditions are being carried on with their own families.

Besides my Turkey Pumpkin, our family traditions for Thanksgiving are very simple…involving the food we eat, the decorations I put out, the thanks we give…even the dishes we use. Traditions don’t have to be complicated. But, they are very important because CHILDREN LOVE TRADITIONS. I believe traditions instill in them a sense of belonging to something bigger than just themselves and it gives them a comfort of knowing what they can count on. Traditions can pass on family values. And, they can create lasting memories.

It’s never too late to start a tradition. So, if you are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time or if you just want to add something extra to your day, here are a few ideas of activities which could become a future family tradition. Just know that you don’t have to do things exactly as I describe them. Feel free to expand on an idea, tweak it a little, and, most importantly, make it your own

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I think giving thanks is one of the most important traditions one can instill in children. At the dinner table, go around and have everyone state what they are thankful for that year. Or, have everyone write their thanks on a piece of paper. Put it all in a hat and have people guess who wrote what.

Another thing you can do is document everyone’s thanks for the year. My daughter-in-law started something a few years back with their children which is a such great idea. She bought a plain, white cotton tablecloth. (You can also use a white, queen or king-sized sheet.) Every year, each person in the family says what they are thankful for. It’s written on the tablecloth and dated. The children are little now so Mommy writes for them, but the idea is that they will write their own thanks as they get older. This Thanksgiving tablecloth is put out every year. The children already like to look back and see what was written in the year’s past.

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Another take on this same idea would be to purchase a blank journal. (Barne’s and Nobel has a ton of these). Every year, set aside a few pages for people to write in their thanks. And, the pages don’t have to be exclusive to written words. Trace handprints of each child or a footprint of a new baby. Have children collect some fall leaves and stick them in the pages. Add a picture of everyone. The ideas are boundless.

You can also reincarnate some old family traditions. As families grow up and move away to begin new lives, frequently the same people are no longer getting together. But, that doesn’t mean traditions can’t continue. Think back to your childhood and remember how things were done. Was there a particular ‘ethnic’ food that was served? Did your mother always decorate with the construction paper turkey you crafted in kindergarden? Did all the children help with a particular dish? These are all things you can incorporate into your day to introduce, yet continue, a family tradition.

Another suggestion would be to plan an activity. It can be as simple watching football together and choosing sides on which team is going to win. You can have prizes for those who picked the winning team. If you don’t like football, there is always the Westminster Dog Championship which is aired every Thanksgiving. Have everyone pick a favorite dog that they are rooting for Or, set up a Yahtzee competition or a game of Twister. Whoever wins is the champion until the next year.

How about a game of touch football while the turkey is finishing baking? This helps get people active and help burn off some of the calories of the impending big meal. Or, the family can go for a short walk after dinner to try and wake up.

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After dinner is finished and the kitchen is cleaned up, have everyone sit down and watch a special movie. We love the  ”A  Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”. “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, and “The Christmas Story” are all great movies to get in the mood for Christmas. My daughter’s family watches “Elf” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. “The Blind Side” is a wonderful story of family and what it means…and it’s also about football.

You can also make it a tradition to serve other people. There are lots of places where you can donate food and even help serve a Thanksgiving meal to those less fortunate than you and your family.

I know Pinterest has some wonderful, creative, exciting ideas for every holiday, but traditions don’t have to be difficult or fancy. For some people, just getting dinner on the table is enough of a task. However, having family traditions add something to the day so consider adding them to your Thanksgiving celebration. And, considering that Thanksgiving is almost over…keep this all in mind for next year!!

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