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November 20, 2019

5 Thanksgiving Family Traditions to Start This Year

Ah, it’s that time of year again. Good food, extremely full bellies, wonderful conversation, and quality time spent with extended family. Nothing could possibly go wrong…right?! Before we offer some practical, easy ways to cultivate gratitude in your home this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, enjoy these painfully hilarious tweets from people who have different feelings about Turkey Day.

Oh yes, silent judgment, our favorite Thanksgiving course. As low as you can go. What if I put it in the microwave, though? Having the kids home all day, all the time is the best…really… What a day of relaxation and fun!

5 Thanksgiving family traditions to start this year

Thankfully, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be perfect. Instead, it’s a great season to begin new traditions that help our families focus on what God has lovingly provided. Here are a few ideas (or use our ideas as inspiration to come up with your own!):

  1. Read Psalm 136. Read it slowly. Read it aloud. Read it together with the family; everyone can take a line. Read it every day if it will help you and your family focus on what truly matters.
  2. Make a gratitude list or keep a journal. Ask everyone in your home to keep their own list, or keep a running household list on the refrigerator or the inside of your front door. If your family is creative, think of fun ways to display the list.
  3. Ask your teen to own part of the Thanksgiving event. Consider what your teen enjoys, then put him/her in charge of some aspect of the day. Maybe they could be in charge of getting everyone’s beverages, or they could act as a greeter to everyone who arrives and thank everyone who leaves. Maybe they could throw in ideas on décor, or maybe they could keep the little cousins occupied with age-appropriate video games before dinner.
  4. Do a “honey roast.”  We’ve probably all tried the whole “say one thing you’re thankful for this year” thing, and it can be pretty lame if people aren’t into it. Instead, try a “honey roast” for a fun twist this year! Whereas a traditional “roast” focuses on making fun of a person, a honey roast gets everyone to focus on building each other up. Have each family member say something they’re thankful for about every person in the room. It’s a cool way to express gratitude in a way that’s uplifting and encouraging to one another, without the regular clichés of Thanksgiving gratitude.
  5. Pray. This seems like a no-brainer; everyone prays at Thanksgiving, right? Some do, but it can be awkward to pray before a bunch of folks you don’t typically see (and maybe some who don’t believe the way you do). The sample prayer below (based on the prayer of the Pilgrims that first Thanksgiving) can help you think of ways to express gratitude to God despite any pressure. Also, consider asking your teen to pray. He/she may feel a little weird about it, but strangers often feel more comfortable listening to a child pray than an adult, and teens really can understand it more than we think. 

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love. We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side. We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us. We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone. Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of His life.

Thanksgiving has the power to focus our thoughts on what we have, rather than what we want or what we’ve lost. It highlights the grace of God, encourages us, and gives us hope for every area of our lives. Those who regularly give thanks to God find themselves quickly ready to give to others. Such is the cycle of blessing, and in the Christian life, it’s where all the action is.

Note: This is an adaptation from our Parent’s Guide to Thanksgiving. For more on the history of Thanksgiving, relearning gratefulness, celebrating in times of both prosperity and difficulty, and much more, get this guide with Axis Membership!

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