With the hectic hustle of the modern holiday season, it’s easy to let moments, hours, and whole days slip by without taking the time to really celebrate together. Would you like to be calmer and more intentional about the holidays this year? Then focus on establishing one or two meaningful traditions that you can carry on through the years to come. Here are three Thanksgiving traditions to get you started.
The Twelve Days of Thanksgiving
This tradition is popular in my family because it offers so many opportunities for thankfulness. On each of the twelve days leading up to the holiday, our thanksgiving centers on a specific theme. We’ve used themes like community helpers, favorite foods, relatives, leaders, or creation.
For example, if the day’s theme is creation, each person in the family names one aspect of God’s creation for which he or she is thankful. Sometimes we write those things on a chart or a list, put them on paper “leaves” and paste them onto a Thanksgiving tree, or jot them down on slips of paper and put them in a box or a jar. You can also use the Twelve Days of Thanksgiving poster!
Volunteer and Give Back
For many families, thanking community helpers and volunteering are year-round habits, but holidays offer opportunities to take those efforts further. Make it a Thanksgiving tradition to give back and show others the love of God.
Giving back can involve signing up the whole family at a local children’s home, pet shelter, or soup kitchen. Or, for families with smaller kids, it can be as simple as paying for a police officer’s meal at a restaurant or purchasing much-needed supplies for a homeless shelter.
Enjoy that crisp, delightful fall weather and take the whole family for a “Wonder Walk” on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone can participate, from the baby in the stroller to Grandma in her wheelchair. Troop through the neighborhood, visit a local green space, or hike in a nearby nature park. If your kids are older, you may even consider signing up for a nearby “Turkey Trot” or 5K race.
As you walk, encourage your kids to point out everything that makes them curious, happy, or thankful. From acorns to hundred-year-old oaks, from the blue sky to a sparkly rock, your family may be surprised how many treasures they can find along the way. And if it rains, so what? Break out the rain boots and umbrellas and take a Wonder Walk anyway!
Forming a family tradition is not only heart-warming—it creates a hook on which you can hang future memories. It’s the beginning of a more structured, calming holiday season that leaves plenty of room for gratefulness and awe at the gifts you’ve received, as well as openings for using those gifts to bless others. We’d love to hear about some of your family’s favorite Thanksgiving traditions.
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Rebecca is a work-at-home freelance writer, novelist, wife, and the mom of two bright-eyed little ones. She credits her success in writing and her love of books to her own mom, who homeschooled three kids from pre-K through high school.