For many families, it is a joyous time of reuniting and reconnecting. Yes, at times things can get a bit stressful, especially if you are the one hosting the event. However, for the most part it is a time to make memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. As I am getting older, I am finding myself more and more cherishing these times and creating something special for my own children. I am grateful for the fond memories I had as a child growing up. I smile when I think about how I would hear my dad use the electric knife in the kitchen carving the turkey. That was my cue to run up the stairs and beg for him to give me a piece of that crispy turkey skin! Yummo!! I still do it today as an adult. Old habits die hard! I also enjoyed our family gathering together to plat Trivial pursuit and me cheating to get the answers so our team would win. There, I confessed it...now I feel better-lol! And of course, there were all the leftovers that would consume us for days. My mother had a way with taking the leftovers and making delicious treats, like turkey soup or turkey salad for sandwiches. Even as an adult, she would make it and send us home with Tupperware containers full of it! For some, the day after Thanksgiving was a blast because of the shopping extravaganza they would dare to undertake. I for one, was not a huge fan of the crowded stores and long lines, but there was something about the hustle and bustle that was exciting...I am a people watcher, so give me a latte and a bench to sit and I could be there for hours.
I have four children, and my oldest will be graduating this year. It is hard to believe that she has grown up on me. Just the other day I was looking through past photos of her and I am amazed at how fast the time has flown by! I still have three at home and it makes me want to place a brick on their head to keep them from growing up on me, but as life would have it, they too will one day leave the nest.....sigh!
This is why I really want to make the time I have left with them to matter. It is funny how as a parent you evolve. I want them to be able to remember their childhood memories with a smile and cherish the things we did together and hopefully create in them a desire to pass on the traditions to their families one day. Isn't this what it is all about...family?
Here are just a few ideas to help you gear up for this Thanksgiving. Some of them are my own ideas and some I have seen done with others throughout the years. I am hoping it will inspire in you the desire to create your own traditions. Also, feel free to add some ideas so that we all can glean from the awesome ideas out there.
One thing I remember doing as a family before we ate dinner was go around to each member of the family and declare what it was we were most thankful for this year. I always loved hearing the heart felt responses and especially the young children's ones. They have a way of bringing realness to any situation. Another tradition for us was to have our desserts after the big meal and play games together. This was always a fun time because we laughed and enjoyed ourselves. There are a ton more but I would rather share just a few that I have read about recently.
Jim Daly, from Focus on the Family, discussed in one of his blog's about taking "thanksgiving" scripture verses and reading them and asking a question at the end. Here were some of his points from his blog:
* "I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me" (Psalm 13:6). QUESTION: How has the Lord has been good to you this year?
- "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits" (Psalm 103:2). QUESTION: Can you tell us several "benefits" or blessings that you've received from the Lord?
- "Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). QUESTION: Can you think of an example where giving thanks to God was a challenge? If you gave Him thanks anyway, what happened?"
- "Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song" (Psalm 95:2). QUESTION: What's one of your favorite praise & worship songs? What makes it special?
Another idea that helps bring families together is crafts. I always like to buy small glass vases and fill them with cranberries, wrap a decorative ribbon around them and place a candle in them and give them to my neighbors before the holidays. It was always so cool to see them displayed within their homes when I would visit them. The kids LOVE to be part of projects like this and it teaches them to think of others.
The following link is a site I found for kids crafts. I plan on doing this one with my toddlers and then writing on each turkey feather, a reason why I am thankful for each of them. Like for my darling Anastasia, I love her curiosity and zeal and Nate's chubby cheeks and smile. For Justin, his wittiness and energy. The list goes on and on when it comes to being grateful for our children. There are TONS of ideas when you google thanksgiving crafts. Here is a picture of the craft and the link.
Also, I know another tradition that we did with our oldest daugter was serving with her at a local shelter for the homeless. She would go to Savannah, Georgia's Thanksgiving meal for the homeless in the park and serve. Again this was one way to give back to those in need. Also, you can have your younger children collect can goods from neighbors and deliver them to local churches or organizations that help feed the homeless or those in need. For the military, most units put together a single soldier's meal.
There are tons of ways to get involved within the community. It makes you appreciate all the more what you have and inspires other with love and thanksgiving too. Also, I saw an idea that 10 days before Thanksgiving, a family placed a box on the kitchen table, decorated it and had each person place a note of thanksgiving in it daily. They then read the praises in the box on Thanksgiving day. A friend of mine has blogged about her thanksgiving praises each day for the past week or so. I found that to be cool too,
I hope that some of these ideas have helped stir spirit of Thanksgiving in you for this season. If you would like to share some of your traditions, I would love to hear them! I pray that each of you will be blessed as you gather with family and friends. Make the season count and be sure and not forget to thank the One who deserves all praises!
Last but not least, please pray for all the troops and their families that are serving and who are not together this season!