Thanksgiving is right around the corner! As we prepare for this special holiday, many families look for meaningful ways to celebrate and give thanks. The Thanksgiving season is the perfect time to start new family traditions or enjoy your current ones that will strengthen relationships and faith. If your upbringing was not filled with happy memories, there is no better time than now to start with simple gratitude for where you are, and to create new, joy filled memories. Here are some of my family’s ideas to make this Thanksgiving meaningful and memorable.
Look for opportunities to serve others as a family during the Thanksgiving season. Volunteer at a church or community Thanksgiving meal. Assemble Thanksgiving baskets or baked goods for elderly neighbors and shut-ins from your church. Serving others deepens gratitude and is a great Christ-centered holiday tradition. Serving is especially important to our family during the holidays!
Thanksgiving Morning Means Parade Time
Watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade together in your pajamas with hot apple cider and treats. Or, if you are in my family, start preparing some of the side dishes. My mom always cooked the meat stuffing and bread stuffing during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. All these years later, this is still what I do! If the house does not smell like the meat stuffing as the parade is on, then it is simply not Thanksgiving morning! Memories are so important. My favorite time though is during the parade when I start seeing the Christmas commercials and then Santa comes riding through on the sleigh. To me, that has always meant the start of Christmas-even if we havent eaten yet. (This is something that my husband and I definitely disagree on!) LOL.
Give Thanks Through Prayer
Begin your Thanksgiving celebrations by gathering as a family to give thanks to God in prayer. Share the blessings big and small that God has given you this year. Let each family member offer up prayers of gratitude. Kick off your Thanksgiving meal by holding hands and offering a prayer thanking God for His provision and blessing over the food and fellowship.
Count Your Blessings
Start an annual tradition of working together as a family to create a Thanksgiving gratitude tree, wreath or table centerpiece. A beautiful idea is to create a Thankful Tree centerpiece. Each person gets a few leaves to write what he or she is grateful for. The leaves are then attached to the tree . Decorate your gratitude project with fall accents. Display it throughout the holidays as a visible reminder of God’s gifts.
Enjoy the Meal Prep Time
Prepare some or all of your Thanksgiving feast as a family. Keep those recipes and family traditions alive. Don’t have any? Start this year and create them. Assigning dishes to make and involving children in food prep keeps kids engaged. Cooking together builds deeper relationships and makes the meal you worked hard over even more meaningful.
Ask grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles to tell favorite stories from past family Thanksgiving celebrations. Record the memories to turn into a book. Retelling meaningful moments from the past deepens family bonds across generations.
Rest and Relax
Don’t overschedule the long holiday weekend. Leave time for everyone to rest and recharge after feast preparations. Watch a family movie, play board games, or just relax together. Enjoy having slower quality time as a family. Or, if your house is like mine, the l-tryptophan kicks in and while my husband relaxes, the kids and I begin decorating.
Use these ideas to help shape meaningful new traditions and faith connections for your family this Thanksgiving. Most importantly, focus on gratitude, fellowship, service and quality time together.
Wishing you and yours a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!