Thanksgiving Traditions: Nine Ideas for Families
By Susie Cortright
One of the highlights of the year in our family happens each November in an unlikely place: the bowling alley.
Years ago, my in-laws started a tradition of getting together Thanksgiving morning amid arcade games and greasy
fries to bowl a few games. This Thanksgiving tradition has become a defining event in our family. Each year, more
families join us and we sit back and marvel at how our web of family and friends continues to compound each year.
Celebrate families and togetherness this Thanksgiving Day with some time-honored traditions, which give us a
sense of family identity and meaningfulness that can last for generations. Here are nine ideas for starting new
family traditions - and for revering the old ones:
1. Sit down with your family and reminisce about your childhood celebrations. What do you remember most about
Thanksgiving and the days that follow? Thanksgiving traditions can be much more than just food and recipes. In
what ways did your childhood traditions symbolize particular values, such as abundance, generosity, the importance of family?
What would you like to do that's the same? What would you do like to do differently?
2. Make a small booklet or a mini scrapbook album (which you can either make or purchase.) Write "Five Things
I Love About My Family and Friends" and keep it out on the table during your Thanksgiving celebration. Each guest
can come and record thoughts and insights. Other themes to try: "Five Things I'm Thankful For" or "Five Wishes
for my Family and Friends." An even simpler approach would be to put one sheet of cardstock out for each year - and
combine them together over the years in a Thanksgiving Gratitude Scrapbook.
3. Keep a Family Gratitude Journal through the year. Each night, a family member can share something that they are
grateful for. Share the highlights of this family tradition at the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day.
4. Make a Gratitude Circle. Before the Thanksgiving meal, everyone stands and holds hands in a circle. Guests
each take a turn sharing what they are grateful for. Or - if your guests are on the shy side - ask everyone to
write down their blessings on a piece of paper, which you can read before or after dinner.
5. Designate a particular tablecloth for your family Thanksgiving celebrations. Provide fabric markers where
guests can record their "gratitudes" or special prayers for the year ahead. Ask your guests to sign and date
each message, as you'll be using the same tablecloth year after year.
6. Involve the entire family in Thanksgiving decorations. Family Fun magazine posts lots of creative ideas for
the entire family here: http://familyfun.go.com
7. Make a hostess gift for the person who is cooking this year. Purchase an apron or a t-shirt or a gift album
with sentiments of thanks from each guest. Present the gift after dinner.
8. Show your gratitude to an unsung hero. Get together with your family and decide on a person or a group in your
community who could use an extra pat on the back, ie. firefighters, soldiers, police officers, volunteers. Put
together a special plate of goodies and deliver it (or pack it up for shipping) as a family.
9. Preserve your traditions. After the meal, record everyone's favorite activities. Appoint one person to be
the scribe - or ask everyone to jot down a few thoughts. And don't forget to take lots of photos. It's fun to
place disposable cameras throughout the house so everyone can capture bits of the action.
About The Author
Susie Cortright is the founder of Momscape.com and Momscape's Scrapbooking Playground - sites devoted to celebrating life with children. Learn more about her scrapbooking club here: http://www.momscape.com/scrapbooking/scrapbook-club or learn about starting your own scrapbooking business on Susie's team: http://www.momscape.com/scrapbooking/business.htm.
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