Two years ago, the kids and I made a thankful book for Thanksgiving. We took construction paper, cut it in half, stacked it, then stapled it together. On the cover, we wrote in big letters, “2005 Takahashi Thankful Book”.
Then, when the family came over for Thanksgiving, we accosted them with the book, and insisted that they participate. At dinner, we read from the book. We found out from this activity that one of our kids’ cousins is an amazing artist, after we made him write “something” in the book.
That was our first year hosting Thanksgiving, and I wanted to make it special. I also wanted to remind everyone that we were there to give thanks, not to bicker or make judgements on people who might be educating their kids in a non-traditional way.
So last year, I wanted to do something special too. But, for whatever reason, I dropped the ball. No thankful book. Not even a “go around the table and say what you are thankful for” activity. This year, I’d like to try again to have a thankful activity during our Thanksgiving day.
Here are some ideas I’ve found:
1) (Thankful book version 2.o) Pass out sheets of paper for everyone to use however they’d like. (Maybe grab some themed paper from Michael’s.) They can list the things they are appreciative for, draw pictures, make smiley faces, whatever. Have everyone share their papers in their own way during dinner. At the end of the night, punch holes in the papers and put them in a three ring binder, which can be used in subsequent years. Create a tradition!
2) Make a thankful chain. Cut out slips of construction or other sturdy paper, and put out pens and crayons. Ask guests to write down one thing they are thankful for per slip of paper. As the night goes on, use glue or staples to chain the papers together – text-side out.
3) Make a Thanksgiving video. Saying an appreciation prayer or going around the table expressing thanks for the things we have in life is a tradition for many families. Why not video tape it? You can post it on your blog, or burn it to DVD and give out copies in December, when everyone’s stressed out about shopping for gifts.
4) Speaking of blogs, how about a thankful meme? This can be done by email or on blogs. If your family is particularly techno-savvy, the whole thing can be done online. For the family with non-technos, the group can create an entry together on turkey-day. Have the computer set up for the blog page, ask people to help contribute, and post your thanks for all the world to see!
5) Put on a play. How about a show with the kids? The kids can help write the play, giving all the expected guests a speaking part. If you are especially creative, you can make props or costumes. (If you do this, please video tape it and post it on youtube. Few things are cuter than kids in a home-made play with their grandparents. What? The grandparents probably won’t ever find out!) When the guests come over, surprise them with your plan, and get everyone involved in making the best Thanksgiving pageant ever!
6) Have a thankful pot. If you can find room on the table between the cranberry sauce and grandma’s handmade bread, put out a small pot and a pile of beans or stones. As you go around the table giving thanks, put a bean or stone into the pot.
7) Make a thankful tree for the dining room wall. Cut out a branch, or even a whole tree if you have a lot of people. Then cut out a bazillion large leaves from brown, red and yellow construction paper. (Or, ask cousin Freddy to do it while he’s watching the football game and you’re slaving in the kitchen.) Put out tape, and pens. Encourage people to write what they are thankful for, and tape the leaves to the tree. What a great decoration to have while dining! The kids can then take turns reading from the leaves during dinner.
While I’m debating about what to do for our gathering on Thursday, why don’t you all share with us what you do for family traditions? How do you encourage thankfulness and memories at your Thanksgiving celebration?