Traditions build memories we treasure and reconnect with throughout our lives. Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday we celebrate with gusto every year. As we tell and retell our favorite stories of past Thanksgivings and share favorite recipes, it connects us with the younger generations.
Remember when Granddaddy fell asleep at the dining room table? Or Aunt Jane caught the long pass in the annual touch football game? These are the real memories, not whether all the napkins matched!
Unfortunately, holidays such as Thanksgiving can be stressful. Whether you are preparing the feast or you have airport pickup duty, there is a lot going on. Let’s make sure our families and friends remember the good moments.
Check out these great ideas we found on the Freedom’s Feast website. Pick out one or two ideas to introduce at your “feast”.
10 WAYS TO MAKE THANKSGIVING MORE FUN, MEANINGFUL, AND AMERICAN!
- Make giving thanks fun: As guests arrive, ask them to write on index cards what they are most thankful for in the past year. Collect the cards in a basket and read from them at several points during the meal. Guess who wrote each one.
- Tell YOUR American story: Tell stories about the founding of America, and then share the story of how and why your own family came to this country.
- Start a new tradition: Have everyone sign a Thanksgiving book that will stay in your family. Take a picture of the whole gathering and put it in the book (or in an online journal) to share and savor over the years.
- Showcase family strengths: Ask a lawyer to discuss her favorite amendment to the Bill of Rights, a police officer to talk about constitutional rights, a businesswoman to share how recent laws have impacted her business, a third-grader to teach what he learned about the pilgrims, the oldest member of the family to discuss his first voting experience.
- Donate to charity: Collect a small donation from every guest and let the oldest children or a special guest decide where the funds will go. You can also use the opportunity to discuss the symbols on the dollar bill.
- Sing! Everyone loves the great Thanksgiving songs of gratitude and gathering. Encourage your guests to join in an old-fashioned sing-along. Pass on American songs you love to your kids and grandkids.
- Remember the earth: Take the opportunity of celebrating the harvest to discuss ways that Americans can better help to take care of the earth and all of its natural resources.
- Involve kids: We all enjoy what we help to create. Invite others – especially children –to help cook, shop, decorate and clean up. Put out crayons and drawing paper to keep young children entertained during dinner. Or bring out the kid in everyone. Use parcel paper for your tablecloth and put out crayons for all your guests. Recycle and reuse as much as possible.
- Consider the freedom we have to move about: Hang maps of the U.S. and the world. Have guests mark all the places they visited in the past year. Talk about what people learned from their travels. Or mark all the places people have lived. Talk about the differences and similarities between states or countries.
- Reflect on America’s freedoms: As America’s most universally celebrated holiday, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to reflect on what makes our nation special and to give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy. Go around the table and ask guests to complete the phrase, “I am thankful for America’s Freedoms because…”
And remember to take a picture for an official memory of the day!