Growing up I really didn’t have many Thanksgiving traditions. My mother was a single mom and often had to work most Thanksgiving holidays, so we were just thankful when we could all be home together for dinner. However, my siblings and I kind of set our own tradition for how we spent our day. We woke up early to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and binged on TV movies until dinner, traditionally served at 2:00 p.m. This timeline was perfect for maximizing our teenage catnapping and snacking routine. Dinner always concluded with turkey coma. We woke around 5 p.m. to feast on our bevy of desserts and retire for one more cat catnap. Then it was time for turkey dinner round 2 and a movie. That was our recipe for a perfect holiday.
Shortly after I got married, my husband and I started to blend our childhood traditions and picked out our favorite parts. We actually negotiated which foods made the menu and it has remained the same for the last decade. That’s one tradition we don’t mess with.
Now that we have kids we have started traditions that incorporate our gratitude and help all of us appreciate the good things we have in our lives. No matter how big, or small. As we enter the season where generosity abounds here are a few of our traditions for teaching gratitude:
- Crafts with gratitude– Last year, we made a thankful tree. I cut out a tree trunk from brown craft paper and hung it on the wall. Then, we cut out hand prints as leaves and wrote on each one something we are thankful for. This year we created a gratitude chain. I gave my girls a marker and strips of paper to write what they are thankful for (kids who aren’t writing yet can decorate with stickers, etc.). We linked them all together in a paper chain to hang near our table.
- Give thanks out loud– before we dig into dinner, each one of us takes a turn saying aloud one thing we are grateful for. This tradition started in my childhood and I have kept it alive with my own kids. There are no right or wrong answers to the question, “What are you thankful for?”
- Make a Gratitude Bucket List– we set aside time after our turkey dinner to make a list of ways we plan to give thanks during the holiday season. We make a check list of places we plan to donate to, or we can give back to and then make a schedule. Whether it’s baking cookies for community members, or volunteering our time together there are plenty of ways to share our gratitude.
- Take a hike- at some point in our Thanksgiving day we like to hit a local trail or simply take a walk through our neighborhood. We say hello to our neighbors and passersby and talk to our kids about how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place surrounded by really good people.
- Share the feast- we like to share our feast with the little woodland creatures in our yard. Crafting a bird feeder, or rolling a pine cone in animal friendly edibles is a fun hands on project for the kids. We hang them from trees in our back yard.
How do you help your kids give thanks?
The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.