Christian Living


Family Matters 11/03/20

The Importance of Building Family Thanksgiving Traditions

Family traditions at Thanksgiving, playing football

One of my favorite Thanksgiving family traditions was making pies. My mom could have opened a pie store. Her pies were that good! And the smell of those pies cooking in the mornings was glorious. Watching my grandmother and mom work side by side and including me in making the fillings, brings back wonderful memories.

My question to you is, what are your holiday family traditions?

In talking to a number of millennials, I've heard a wish for more traditions around holidays. Several people feel they don't really have traditions -- maybe due to distance, divorce, and other factors that can cause families to be disconnected. But, traditions help us stay connected and build a strong bond between family members. They connect us to our history and bring generational meaning.

Traditions help pass on important family values and bring a sense of security and predictability to children. We all like a sense of continuity because it builds feelings of security.

So this Thanksgiving, consider adding a family tradition or preserving the ones you already have. For those of you needing ideas, here are a few:

  1. Have a special Thanksgiving ritual around breakfast and preparing the meal. We do cinnamon rolls while we are making preparations.
  2. Have special activities -- a football game, card games, walks, or hikes. Something that is a regular part of the celebration. In my family, it was bowling!
  3. Make a gratitude box out of an old shoe box. Decorate the box with your kids and cut a slit in the top. Every day from now until Thanksgiving, have each person in the family write down something he/she is thankful for and put it in the box. At your Thanksgiving celebration, read the notes out loud.
  4. Try a few colonial crafts or foods. Yes, eel and squirrel were part of the first Thanksgiving feasts. Yikes!
  5. Do a service activity, such as serving the Thanksgiving meal at a homeless shelter, raking leaves for the elderly or shopping for food.

Whatever you decide, consider the words of Abraham Lincoln. They're relevant today.

"But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own..."

Our blessings all come from God. This Thanksgiving, make it a tradition to give thanks to the One that provides every gift and blessing.

O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endures forever...
Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
Psalm 107: 1, 8, 9

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