Creating a Thanksgiving to Remember

I’ve had some readers email asking about whether we follow any traditions for Thanksgiving in our family.

We don’t have too many, but I am happy to share the things we have done over the years. It is often a busy day spent with extended family, which means that we modify our traditions at times. But, the beauty of family traditions is that you are the one who makes the rules.

Traditions are all what you make of them.

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Thanksgiving just may be my favorite holiday since the focus really is on sharing faith, family, and good good all combined into one activity. The things we do are generally low key, and some of them start in the week or two leading up to Thanksgiving itself.

Here are our favorite Thanksgiving traditions:

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In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, we read this book together.

Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember

It is an amazing accounting of the Thanksgiving story from a Christian persepctive. It is written by Barbara Rainey, wife of Dennis Rainey who is the founder of Family Life. Yes, I really do love Family Life! This book has amazing pictures and comes along with a CD of beautiful Thanksgiving music. The book is a bit pricey, but it is so worth it, especially if you read it year after year. There is also an audio CD of the book. In addition, we have this also, and it is really well done – much less expensive, too!

We read a few other Thanksgiving books, too, and these are some of our favorites.

We have a collection of books that are appropriate for various ages. The younger kids are present when we read them all, but they really love when we read ones that are geared toward younger kids.

Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning from History

. . . If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620

Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks (Reading Railroad)

The Berenstain Bears Think of Those in Need (First Time Books(R))

Mary’s First Thanksgiving: An Inspirational Story of Gratefulness

Thanksgiving morning always starts with our traditional french toast casserole.

You can find the recipe for Thanksgiving French Toast by clicking on this link.

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Sometimes we spend Thanksgiving with extended family, but we are more often found at home with just our family since it is our holiday just to be sick.

When it is just us, we love doing everything we can to make it a memorable time like:

  • My older daughters love creating a beautiful table including homemade place cards, cloth napkins, and fancy dishes.
  • Some years, we have cut out leaves with construction paper and all written things we are thankful for on the leaves. We then read these during dinner. Then we decorate the walls with them somewhere in the house.
  • Other times, we have had our kids write or dictate a list of 10 things that they are thankful for each Thanksgiving. These are so precious to go back and read.
  • A fun spin on this is to assign each family member a different family member and then write or dictate a list of 10 things they are thankful for about that person.
  • At times we have started our meal by placing five kernels of corn on each person’s plate to symbolize the extreme hardship the Pilgrims faced when first coming to the New World.
  • There is always plenty of help in the kitchen preparing the Thanksgiving meal, and often it is my oldest son who sticks with me the longest. He is such a sweet boy. He likes to give me a run for my money, but he is also such a good kid.
  • In the time between dinner and dessert, we are usually playing games.

These are some of our favorites.

Apples to Apples Junior – The Game of Crazy Combinations!

Brain Quest Smart Game

The Game of Life Game

Mad Gab Game

Ticket To Ride

Catan 5th Edition

Skip Bo Card Game

Phase 10 Card Game

Scattergories Game

I think the key to having a successful Thanksgiving, is keeping the focus on being thankful, the love shared between the people you’re with, and reflecting on the life you live not only on Thanksgiving, but every day of the year.

Thanksgiving truly is a time to establish some wonderful traditions that your kids will treasure for a lifetime!

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