Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tradition: Simple Ways our Family Embraces The Thanksgiving Holiday

   trəˈdɪʃ ən[truh-dish-uh n] noun:
the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.

The holiday season is the birthplace of many traditions that connect us as families and friends. Traditions give us something to look forward to, something to call our own, something to bind us to the crazy people we share bathrooms and living space with (and don't always get along with!).

Due to the fact that my husband often works on Thanksgiving, our family cannot frequently travel long distances to be with extended family. We've found that creating special traditions within our home helps make the day special---even if it's just the six of us eating together once again. This year will be no exception...we will miss celebrating with family and friends as my husband will be on call, but we are grateful for our ties that bind us across the miles.

Our traditions are not fancy or elaborate, but they are our own. Here are a few that we hold dear to our hearts:

1. Preparing the Thanksgiving Feast:

I'll admit, some days when we are in a rush for dinner to get to another activity, I dread those words, "Mom, can I help?" ( It goes so much faster if I don't have helping hands on those days...but I have a hard time turning down anyone who is interested in helping out in the kitchen, right?) Can anyone relate? But for me, Thanksgiving is different. When I just plan on spending much of the morning preparing to gather around the table, I love having the kids in the kitchen with me.

We take our time, we laugh, we learn some cooking tid-bits together, and the preparation of the food is as much of a pleasurable activity as eating it.

2. Expressing Thanks:

We began a simple tradition last year that will be a treasure to add to and to look forward to each November. It's simply our Thanksgiving Table Cloth. (You can see the larger version of it in the photo at the beginning of the post.) I purchased a plain cream-colored tablecloth and fabric markers from Wal-Mart, asked for family participation, and the tradition was born.

Before our meal, each person was invited to write his or her thoughts of gratitude right onto the tablecloth. (It was fun for the kids especially, to break the rules and write on something that Mom normally condemns!)

Looking back, I get a kick out of how life was a year ago....the misspelled words and thoughts of a sweet six year old. I adore her chunky letters and the care with which she wrote her feelings.

The simplicity of a 13 year old boy: food, football, girls.

That's probably on the gratitude list for most men, right?

Thankfulness for a day off... (some things haven't changed)

I'm looking forward to pulling this out again this Wednesday evening so everyone can see what he or she wrote, and prepare to add to it again this Thanksgiving Day.

3. Creating a Thanksgiving Craft:

My girls and I had a great time last year creating these little turkey favors. They are so simple: two knit gloves, a bit of ribbon, glue, googly eyes, and scraps of cardstock and rick-rack. Simple instructions for making them are here.

Aren't they goofy and darling all at the same time? The girls also felt it important to give them very original names...like Bob.

This year, these turkeys and acorns are the plan.

4. Memorable Place Settings:

Did you notice the plates in those pictures? My mother collected plates from a variety of places she visited during her lifetime, and I inherited them when she passed away, along with her glass goblets. We pull these out every Thanksgiving, and wrestle over which place we want to eat on this year. We think of Grandma Wray and it makes the meal that much more special. Something as simple as plates has a way of bringing us together.

5. Of course, Delicious Food!

Each family has their own version of favorite foods to indulge in on Thanksgiving. A few of ours happen to be Sweet Potato Rolls (my littlest has been begging for these for weeks now!) and...

Raspberry Pretzel Jello Salad---one that I first remember having with my sister in law, Connie. My sister ML serves this as well, and we now look forward to it each year.

"Family traditions are like spiritual and emotional cement in the foundation of a happy home. They create fond memories, and these memories bond us together as nothing else can."
Ensign March 1986

What are your Thanksgiving Traditions?

May you each have a bounteous and memorable Thanksgiving!


  1. i LUV this post! the tablecloth! what an AWESOME idea!!! i want to start that one!!! im also obsessed with plates and collecting them! i hope to have a good enough collection someday to put together for a big meal for my family! you really make the most of the thanksgiving holiday! cam has had to work ALOT of thanksgiving holidays as well so our traditions are few and far between in this holiday category, thanks for getting me excited about creating some new ones!

  2. What a great post! I love to see your traditions. We have been talking a lot about traditions lately and what works and what doesn't. I think that they are so important and I loved the quote at the end of your post! I hope we get to see you sometime this holiday season!


  3. I agree that this is a great post. Here's another table favor I used one year, you might want to add to the collection of ideas.



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