Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.  I love it because it is a time to celebrate blessings and the people in your life that making living so worthwhile.  It can be simple or elaborate...but to me simple is so much better.

Several years ago as I was driving home from work, I was listening to the radio program Family Life Today.  Barbara Rainey, the host's wife, had recently published her book "Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember".  Listening to her describe the contents compelled me to pull over to the side of the road, dial the phone number and order the book.

As I mentioned before, Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Of course we have traditional foods on our Thanksgiving table, but the holiday is so much more than food and football.  I think so many of us get caught up in the turkey, stuffing, decorations, pumpkin pie and table settings, that we either have forgotten or simply don't know the story behind the holiday.

Some things we do that make our Thanksgiving even more special:
  • Re-read "Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember" aloud to the family.  Yes, it's okay to shut off the TV.  My family loves reading together...and I'm sure yours will, too.  Reading about the history of the Pilgrims is fascinating and humbling.  (You don't have to read the book I'm recommending, but I do encourage you to select an historical account on the topic from your own library or the one in your town.)  You can choose to do this a few days prior to Thanksgiving, which is what we usually do, or you can do it Thanksgiving Day if you are having a quiet day without a houseful of people coming over.
  • We start our Thanksgiving meal with 5 kernels of corn on each plate.  During the second winter, the Pilgrims' food supplies were so low that it is said that they survived on merely 5 little kernels of corn a day.  For us, it really puts into perspective how blessed we are and the bounty of our home's table.
  • We share the 5 things they are most grateful for during the past year.  You can use index cards so each person can write down their blessings or make some up on the computer.  You can choose to incorporate this into your prayer before the meal or a topic of discussion during or after.  Since we have started this tradition, I have saved these cards inside our Thanksgiving book.  It is fun to look back and see what we were feeling most blessed for the year(s) previous.
  • We also like to choose a way of sharing our blessings with others.  That might mean inviting people over that don't have family to celebrate with, giving extra to the local food bank, and/or providing a meal for a family or so in need.  Each year looks different.  It doesn't have to be the same to be meaningful.
What is your treasured Thanksgiving tradition(s)?  Would love for you to share!

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