3 Fun Family Traditions to Celebrate Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving comes smack dab in the middle of the Halloween sugar slump and the Christmas rush. Known as one of the busiest travel holidays of the year, it is estimated nearly 44 million people fly or drive to spend time with family or friends during this long weekend. But along with feasting, football and Black Friday shopping, families can also instill meaningful traditions into this family-oriented celebration.
1. Most parents urge their children to say thank you to others throughout the year. But during this holiday, parents can incorporate other ways to encourage their children to express gratitude.
Help younger children trace around their hand. Cut out the shape and then have them write things they are thankful for on the hand. Or cut out other shapes like triangles or circles. Write something they are thankful for on each shape and string them together to make a holiday banner for the fireplace or staircase.
Give each family member several strips of paper. Use fall-colored paper for a more festive look. Have each person write one thing they are thankful for on each strip and then staple or tape the strips together to make a long chain.
Set out blank cards and pens for family members to write thank you notes to people who aren’t present. Encourage individuals to express thanks to teachers, coaches, other family members, military personnel or other people who serve in your community.
2. With stores already festooned with Christmas displays it can be easy to get caught up in the “gimmes” of the upcoming holiday season. During tough economic times, health challenges or family crisis it can also be difficult to feel thankful. However, taking time to help someone else can put our own lives in better perspective. Look for ways your family can help others over the holiday.
Some families choose to serve meals at homeless shelters or contribute to local food banks. Call ahead to see if there is a time your family can serve meals or help organize food orders. Buy extra meal supplies to contribute to local organizations that feed the less fortunate.
Go through toy boxes or clothes closets to look for items that can be donated to local charities.
Consider those you know who may not be able to travel to be with family or who will be alone during the holiday. Look for ways to brighten their holiday by including them in family activities or visiting them.
3. Nothing says “home for the holidays” like good food. Get your kids involved in the baking process and you have a fun way to spend time together as well as pass on some valuable cooking skills. You will also end up with a great tasting treat to enjoy and/or share with others. Pull out one of your family’s favorite recipes, or try one of ours. Here’s a dessert that is easier to make than pumpkin pie, yet keeps that traditional ingredient on the menu:
Mix together in large bowl:
2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon Salt
In another bowl, mix together:
2 Cups Canned, Pureed Pumpkin
2 Cups White Sugar
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs (Beaten)
Mix dry and wet ingredients together and mix well. Pour into a well-greased 9x13 inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 45 minutes or until baked through. (Test by poking the center of the cake with a toothpick. It should come out clean.)
Cool on a baking rack. When the cake is cool (about one hour), frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. (In Canada, we call frosting “icing” – so if you are Canadian, ice cake with Cream Cheese Icing!)
Cream Cheese Frosting (Icing)
3 Ounces of Cream Cheese
2 Tablespoons of Butter (or Margarine)
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
Add in slowly, mixing as you do so, until you get the right consistency:
1 ½ to 2 Cups of Powdered Sugar (Icing Sugar)
3 to 4 Teaspoons of Milk
(Add more sugar if it is runny, more milk if it is stiff.)
Bonus Idea: For many families, the best thing about Thanksgiving is spending time with each other. Whether it is cheering for your favorite football team, pulling out a well-loved board game or cuddling on the couch for a holiday movie, the Thanksgiving weekend offers time for families to enjoy one another. Here is a list of a few movies that celebrate the Thanksgiving season.
However you spend your holiday, Thanksgiving is one day that reminds us to stop and be grateful for all the good things in life.