Thanksgiving Family Traditions

Sadly, this is the last day for Kelli’s “Giving Thanks” Celebration (thank you, Kelli, for hosting this), but I will be continuing to share some favorite Thanksgiving recipes, daily through Wednesday, so be sure and check back.

Thanksgiving Family Traditions

Family traditions are so very important. They are what tie us all together in our memories forever. Unfortunately, due to the way my childhood turned out, I don’t really have a lot of memories…and certainly no traditions to carry on.

My parents were divorced when I was a young child, and my two siblings were much older than I was. Sadly, my mother worked every other Thanksgiving, in the local hospital. These were the Thanksgivings that I spent with my dad, either alone…just the two of us eating our Thanksgiving dinner at a Denney’s restaurant, or at the homes of his girlfriends’ relatives, where I felt a stranger.

On the Thanksgiving Days that my mom did not work, we would go to my maternal grandmother’s house, to feast with relatives whom I barely knew, and only saw one other time a year. The one good thing was that there was one cousin close to my age to play with. That’s really all I can come up with from my memory banks — either eating a turkey dinner at the only 24-hour restaurant in town, or dining with strangers. (Christmas was much the same story).

That’s why I determined, very early on in my motherhood, that things would be different for my children. I want them to feel like they belong. We are FAMILY — no matter what…and that will be the central focus of every holiday. Thus I’m sharing a couple of traditions which have become favorites of my children.

The first of these is the tablecloth. Shortly after moving to Florida, I threw a white sheet on the table, and delighted my children by telling them they could write on it. They wrote what they were thankful for, drew funny pictures, and traced their handprints. We brought the same sheet out and put it on the table the next year, and they were just tickled looking at the things they’d written the year before, comparing handprint size differences, and adding new touches. My 9-year-old daughter told me recently that this was her favorite part of Thanksgiving. (We are just about out of room on that original sheet though. We may be hanging it up to look at this year, and putting a fresh one on the table.)

Another thing we like to do is to make a Thankful Tree. The Thankful Tree is an idea that we got several years ago from a copy Family Fun Magazine. The premise is to secure a bare tree branch into a flowerpot, and then hang leaves (made from paper or craft foam) on the “tree”. Written on each leaf is the name of a person and date on one side, and something they are thankful for on the other side.

I will share photos later this week, after we put ours together this year.

Please share. I always love reading the ideas of others.
What types of Thanksgiving traditions does your family have?

Give Me A Grateful Heart, Lord
by Grace E. Easley

Give me a grateful heart, Lord,
For each small favor granted.
As years unfold, may I behold
Life, still, through eyes enchanted.
Let me find beauty in all things,
Not be too blind to see
The goodness in my fellowman,
That he would find in me.

Grant that my ears remain attuned
To hear the smallest sigh,
And may I lend a gentle touch,
To those less sure than I.
Let me remember lessons learned,
To profit from the past,
And may I build a bridge of dreams,
That shall forever last.

Let me rejoice in simple things;
I need no wealth to buy
The scent of pine upon the wind,
A burnished copper sky,
Scarlet roses on the fence,
Sunrise through the trees —
Oh, grant that I may not outgrow
Affinity for these!

Give me a grateful heart, Lord;
Let me be satisfied
When days are less than sunny
And plans lie at low tide.
Life is a sweet adventure
That will lead to who knows where,
So, give me a grateful heart, Lord,
That I may always care.



  1. says

    I love your idea about the tablecloth! We will definitely have to do that this year… even though we’re going to my in-law’s for Thanksgiving. :-) I’m sure grandma and grandpa wouldn’t mind a little graffiti at the table.

    Thanksgiving is not really a holiday that I enjoyed growing up. While we were together with family, my sisters and brother and I were the oldest of the cousins. So each year we were bored to death, stuck handwashing dishes ALL weekend (all real dishes, for 30 people, for every meal) AND spent the rest of the time babysitting the younger cousins. I’m sure the grown-ups enjoyed themselves but my sibs and I would’ve much rather stayed at home. I pray that I am building better memories with my children when it comes to certain holidays.


  2. says

    This was inspiring! We live far away from any family so Thanksgiving has been kind of a bummer in the past. I really like the idea of getting a sheet tablecloth and writing on it. I just might try that.



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