My daughters' classroom made Thanksgiving Trees one year, and it's a great idea to adapt to your particular family. Collect semi large fall leaves, enough for 3 per person. Seal them with clear contact paper and cut around the edges. Grab a bunch of Sharpie pens and pass them out to everyone. Give each person a leaf and have them write one thing they are grateful for this year, and add the date. Choose a large piece of poster board and draw a tree without leaves. Add the leaves your family made to the tree. Each person can share what they are most grateful for with everyone. Each year, take down the previous years' leaves and add your new ones. It's interesting, as well, to look back to what each person wrote last year in comparison to this year!
Another way for families to share is by playing the corn game. Each person at the table gets two pieces of corn kernels next to their dinner plate. After dinner, place a bowl in the middle of the table. Start by having someone place one kernel in the bowl and share something they are thankful for and why. Go around the table until everyone at the table has used their corn. When the bowl is full, use this time to share some Thanksgiving history. Share the story with your family of the Native Americans teaching us about corn, now an American staple.
How about a food tradition? Go ahead and have your traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but each year, add at least one new dish to the menu. After dinner, the family gets to vote whether it stays or goes. This can be taken one step farther by creating a family cookbook with all the recipes. The cookbook can then make a great Christmas stocking stuffer for the rest of your family and friends that you didn't get to be with you this year!
Thanksgiving is a time when we are all thankful for what we have, but it should remind us that many people truly don't have much to be thankful about. Giving is a great tradition to start in your family, considering it's half of the word Thanksgiving! Consider donating to food pantries. Get your children involved by choosing and packing the food in boxes. Take them with you to the pantry or donation center so they can see the difference they can make. It's a great time to be reminded of the importance of sharing the bounty with those having tough times.
American families are very busy, we work so much more these days, and children seem to be constantly on the go. Thanksgiving is a time to put all that aside and remind ourselves that family, friends and traditions keep us grounded. They remind us who we are. Take some time this year to create new traditions and have a memorable Thanksgiving!