“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart
We all know that Thanksgiving is about more than just turkey and pie. It’s a time to gather with loved ones and count our many blessings. It’s also the perfect time to create meaningful family traditions. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Teach your children the importance of gratitude by creating a unique advent calendar. Throughout Thanksgiving, write a list of blessings for which you are grateful. Include as many loved ones as possible in this challenge. Help children use cookie cutters to trace 30 leaf shapes onto autumn-colored construction paper and carefully cut out the leaves.
Write one item from your “thankful list” on each leaf. Use butcher paper or poster boards to create a brown (child-height) tree trunk, and affix it to your child’s bedroom door, playroom wall, or family area. Children can tape leaves on the top of the tree trunk, one for each day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each morning, one leaf can be read as it “falls from the tree.” This will help your children understand the changing seasons and focus on the true meaning of the holidays as they count down to Christmas one “thank-you” at a time.
Designate one older child to represent the “New World.” Another child represents the Mayflower. All remaining children represent rocks, waves, or islands as they sit, stand, or lie on the ground between the two. The New World calls out directions to guide the ship (whose eyes are closed). The ship cannot speak or peek as it crosses the dangerous sea to the New World.
Does your holiday television display a festive Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or competitive NFL games? This year, considering hosting your own “Funniest Home Videos” contest. Invite guests to bring their most comical clips to share, and be prepared to laugh hysterically.
A Lucky Break
Don’t forget to make a wish! After you’ve deboned the turkey for day-after gumbo or soup, choose two children to each take one end of the wishbone. They close their eyes, make a wish, and pull! Ending up with the larger part of the bone means the wish will come true. This is known as a “lucky break” and supposedly dates all the way back to the Etruscans of 322 B.C.
Jump in big leaf piles, take a family walk while hunting for holiday symbols in your neighborhood, or sit back and play family board games. With a little imagination, you can create very special Thanksgiving traditions for your little ones. Who knows? They might just pass some down to their own kids some day.
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