Thanksgiving is a chance for families to gather together, to feast and to enjoy being with one another. But the day can also be a meaningful time to reflect on our blessings and remember those who have impacted our lives.
Many families have special traditions they use to show gratitude to their friends, family and faith. We asked readers to share a cherished tradition that has helped their family experience real gratitude amid the food and fellowship of the holiday.
For our family, Thanksgiving Day begins early, with our family gathered around a card table in the living room to share a special, once-a-year breakfast. Between bites of poppy seed cake and sips of eggnog, we record the year’s blessings on notebook paper: landing a new job, reconnecting with old friends, finding a great sale on kids’ shoes, earning an A in Spanish. No item is too small for the list.
Tree of Thanks
In my family sentiments are usually kept to oneself, so I knew my siblings and their spouses wouldn’t be comfortable participating in traditions where vocal expressions of gratitude were required. So, I pulled out a craft project I had done with my kids. I made a tree from brown construction paper and taped it to the wall. Then I made leaves out of red, yellow and orange paper. I handed out the leaves to my family, asking them to write something they were thankful for on each leaf. I told them they didn’t need to put their name on the leaves. The kids were enthusiastic. While the adults were reluctant at first, but once they read the leaves, they all wrote down at least one thankful thought. I was surprised to see some leaves with detailed, heartfelt lists, and a few relatives filled more than one leaf!
One year, I brought a tablecloth and a package of fabric pens. I asked our family and guests to write something on the tablecloth they were thankful for. Everyone took turns writing short notes on the cloth, and we continue the tradition every year. When Thanksgiving Day arrives, our guests smile and laugh as they read through the memories, while the children search to find their handprints, thrilled to see how much they’ve grown.