Thanksgiving! It's my very favorite holiday! I have good memories of family get-togethers from my childhood, but honestly, as a mother of young children, all the work behind putting together a big traditional meal and coordinating special traditions is a bit overwhelming. So today I'd like to share 8 of my favorite low-stress holiday traditions.
The Pilgrim Campout
I'm not exactly sure how this tradition started, but each Thanksgiving we have a Pilgrim Campout in the livingroom! We pull mattresses out of bedrooms and put them on the living room floor. (Ok, I know the Pilgrims didn't actually sleep on mattresses. I'm ok with that.) Then we eat popcorn, read books and sleep in front of the fire in the wood stove.
On the night before Thanksgiving we like to read books about the history of the holiday. Some of our favorites include: Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret Pumphrey, Pilgrim Thanksgiving by Wilma Hays, The Pilgrims at Plymouth by Lucille Penner and Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas.
Pilgrim Food Delivery
On the day before Thanksgiving we decorate paper bags with pictures of pilgrims. Then on Thanksgiving morning we pop popcorn, fill the bags, dress the children up like pilgrims, Indians or turkeys and deliver this “pilgrim food” to special neighbors. We may deliver it to families we have adopted throughout the year, families who have lost somebody, senior citizens who are living alone, or someone who just needs a blessing and a reason to smile. When we deliver the popcorn we sing a special little Thankfulness song.
The Thankfulness Tablecloth
This is a tradition that I plan to start this year. I'm going to get a plain white table cloth (maybe linen) and a pack of sharpies. Then I'm going to let everyone at the table write down some things they are thankful for. I may also get some ink pads and let them put their hand prints on the tablecloth after we've eaten. Every year we can add to our Thankfulness Tablecloth and each year we will see who has been a guest at our table in past years.
Well-worded Conversation Starters
At many Thanksgiving tables somebody will say “Ok, name some things you're thankful for” and then everyone (in our family anyway!) says, “I'm thankful for health and friends and family.” It's so predictable! That's why I created Words Fitly Spoken – Thanksgiving edition. These are 100 very specific conversation prompts to help us think about what we are thankful for in very specific ways.
The Blessing Jar
Throughout the year write your blessings down on pieces of paper as they occur, then stuff the papers into a mason jar. Next Thanksgiving empty the jar and read through everything that God has done for you!
While family is together take the opportunity to create a short video of family members telling stories or have everyone work together on a scrapbook or photo album. This is also a great time to pull out old photo albums and walk down memory lane!
“Gobble Till You Wobble”
One year my friend had a baby near Thanksgiving and we bought a onesie for him that said, “Gobble Till You Wobble.” The expression made us laugh and has turned into something that we say every year, now. And while we would never encourage somebody to actually over eat, food is a very important part of the holiday! If you're curious about what gluten free vegan vegetarians eat on Thanksgiving, check out my Pinterest board below…