Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Making Thanksgiving Memorable

I always welcome the splashes of orange that fall and Thanksgiving brings, especially around my home.  I usually think of my house, in terms of colors, as a day at sea on a stormy afternoon.  I have plenty of blues, greens, and tans, but most of my cabinetry is black, thus the stormy day.  So when I pull out the orange, it dances on and brightens up this slightly neutral palette. Come September, the more orange, the better.

As moms ~and wives~ we love making memories for our families. Whether it be a silly Friday tradition or serious contemplation on Good Friday, we want our families to experience the significance of life and the celebrations that come around once a year.  We want them to remember special times together and enjoying God's presence in our homes. Thanksgiving gives plenty of time and space for this.

I’m not sure how it happened but Thanksgiving has become almost as talked about as Christmas at our house.  That’s a BIG almost.  {Surprises wrapped in colorful paper is hard to beat with kids.}  However, the couple of boxes from the attic with all things “harvest” crammed in, ushers in an air of excitement for all of us.  It conjures of thoughts of the long weekend, friends around the table, the yummy food, state rivalries in football, sale circulars, neighbors in our back yard, the parade, and the official kick-off to the Christmas season.  What’s not to love?  I’m wishing it were all this week!

Cooking with a friend is always more fun.  Atlee and Julia-- making Thanksgiving dessert

As many responsibilities as kids bring, they truly make everything more fun.  I found that mine were very curious about why we celebrated Thanksgiving which gave me great excuses to purchase a basketful of books on Squanto, the Pilgrims, the Mayflower etc.  My kind of fun!  Of course, we have our favorites.

The First Thanksgiving- Hayward (A reader)
Pocahontas and the Strangers- Bulla {chapter book}
The Pilgrims of Plimoth- Sewall
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving- Metaxas
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims Man- Bulla {chapter book}
Squanto and the First Thanksgiving- Kessel
Three Young Pilgrims- Harness
The Thanksgiving Story- Dalgliesh
The Story of Priscilla Mullins – Leininger
If You Sailed on the Mayflower- McGovern
Across the Wide Dark Sea- The Mayflower Journey- Leeuwen
On the Mayflower: Voyage of the Ship's Apprentice and a Passenger Girl- Waters
Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl-Waters
Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy- Waters/Kendall
Pilgrim Courage: From a Firsthand Account of William Bradford- Smith, Meredith {chapter book-- certain passages}

Wednesday night before the big day, we invite our neighbors to the backyard for caramel apples and s’mores.  The kids make the invitations, I copy them on the copier and they deliver them a couple of days before.  It was just a simple thing we could do to get to know our neighbors better and touch base with them without constraints of bedtimes and work the next day.  We hear whose coming over for Thanksgiving, where some are going, the recipes that failed and the ones they can’t wait to try.  Some years we've sat under blankets on the back porch attempting to stay warm and some years we have run the fans.  It’s easily one of the most favorite things I host.

If you eat at noon, Thanksgiving morning is busy.  When the kids were really small and not able to help in the kitchen, I had to come up with things they could do.  We aren’t ones to miss the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade so we’d turn that on and sit them down with two activities which they still enjoy.  The first one is to make a paper chain as a count down to Christmas.  Scrapbook paper, scissors, tape and/or a stapler-- done.  The second one is popcorn strings to decorate our kitchen.  A bowl of popcorn, thread and blunt needles.  In my house, it’s a snack and a craft. With the distraction of the parade and an activity to do, this keeps them occupied for a better part of the morning..... and they love it.

After visiting with friends or seeing a movie, the day ends with gratitude.  On a 4x6 card, we write each other to say how they are thankful for each person in our family.  We place the card under their pillow and it’s a perfect way to end the day and fall asleep, with three cards saying why someone is  grateful for you.  We each have a small book in which to keep them and I tell you, these are treasures.  The awkward block letters, the phonetically spelled words, the things they think of to write..... seeing those grow into good manuscript, cursive handwriting, words and memories from their hearts, true appreciation.  Treasures.

I'd love to hear how your family celebrates Thanksgiving.  As you've read, our traditions and ideas aren't earth shattering or even original, but it's the memories around those things, the fact that we are all around the house together that makes these times meaningful.


Emily said...

I CANNOT WAIT for Thanksgiving this year. I truly have so much for which to be thankful. 2012=Best Thanksgiving EVER!

TJ Wilson said...

yes - Em has a bird's eye view on this great home filled with great traditions! Sweet!