Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to ponder what we’re thankful for. Around the country, kids will discuss what they’re thankful for in school. But at home, we often overlook the importance of gratitude during the season in which we should be feeling it most. That’s why a Thanksgiving tradition is a great way to slow down and express gratitude with your family. Traditions like these can add meaning back into the holidays and teach our kids to be grateful.
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Our Thanksgiving tradition wasn’t planned.
The first year I celebrated Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, everyone went around the table and said what they were thankful for. I was a little surprised and unprepared, and super nervous since I didn’t know everyone well. But I absolutely loved it. After Thanksgiving, I asked Andy how long they’d been doing that. He said it was the first time they had. What?! I thought it was a great tradition they always did. Fortunately, it’s now 7 or 8 years later and we’ve continued to do it almost every year.
While our tradition is pretty simple and quick, I’ve been considering several other ways we can modify or add to it. Prior to last year, there were no children on that side of our family. The youngest was in her 20’s. Now that Zachary is part of the family, I want to make sure that we’re teaching him the importance of making time to give thanks and show gratitude. I want him to see the value in his life and appreciate all he has.
Interested in starting your own Thanksgiving tradition?
If you’d like to start your own Thanksgiving tradition, here are some ideas to get you started. You can modify any of them to work for your family. Some ideas will work better if you have younger children, others if you’re kids are older. Or use more than one if you’ve got both and you want everyone to feel really involved!
- Go around the table and have everyone say what they’re thankful for before dinner. This is what we do. It’s simple and quick but it really forces you to think about at least one big thing you’re thankful for. The year Zachary was born, he was was everyone was most thankful for. Even though we knew he was loved, hearing it made Andy and I feel the love.
- Start a “Gratitude Jar.” Have everyone fill out one thing on a slip of paper each day, write their name on it, and put it in the jar. On Thanksgiving, read them aloud. You can do it before, during, or after dinner. Or, if you’re whole family helps get everything ready, you could do it during the preparations. If you have very little ones, ask them at the end of every day to tell you one think they were thankful for that day and write it down for them. They’ll especially love hearing things they had forgotten about from previous weeks!
- Read a story about giving thanks after your Thanksgiving dinner. Then discuss what everyone is most thankful for. Use the story as a jumping off point to get everyone thinking about what they’re most thankful for. Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks is a great choice. If you want a a book about giving thanks but not necessarily Thanksgiving, check out Investing In Children’s awesome list of 19 books about gratitude.
- Thanksgiving day crafts. Create a Thanksgiving turkey out of construction paper for the family. Make separate feathers and have everyone throw out things they’re thankful for until you completely cover them in gratitude! Attach the feathers and hang the turkey up on the wall for dinner. If you have family over for dinner, it will be interesting for them to read. They’ll likely continue the discussion about what they see on the turkey or things they’re thankful for themselves!
- Start a Thankfulness notebook. Discuss what everyone is thankful for on Thanksgiving. Designate one person to write it all down, along with the name of the person who said it. Then next year, pull out the notebook and discuss last years list before having everyone discuss what they’re thankful for this year. Try to get everyone to add to their list rather than repeating things they’ve said before. It’ll be fun in a few years for everyone to look back on what they were thankful for, especially for little kids who’s will likely change dramatically as they grow and mature!
I hope you start your own Thanksgiving tradition of gratitude this year. It really does add to the holiday and bring on a lot more meaning. And it’s a great way to teach the kids to actively express gratitude!
Does your family currently have a Thanksgiving tradition of gratitude?
Do you have any additional Thanksgiving Tradition ideas?
-To your Better Life-