Whether you meet with friends at a favorite restaurant or fill your parents’ dining room with family, you look forward to your Thanksgiving traditions every year. And that, in and of itself, is something to be thankful for. This fall, though, why not mix it up a bit? After the traditional Thanksgiving activities, show your gratitude for one another, as well as the services within your community.
When I was growing up, my grandma used to make turkey notes for the Thanksgiving table. Next to each place setting was a carefully packaged scroll of paper tied with a colorful bow of yarn. Inside? A rhyme offering words of encouragement or promoting a random (but unique) act of kindness. Some of the sayings were as simple as “Turkey red, turkey blue, I love you!” or as adorable as “Turkey good, turkey bad, give a hug to dear old grandad.” Sometimes the wording would entice the reader to share something they were thankful for with the rest of the group.
No matter what, unwrapping and reading turkey notes at the end of the meal was always a fun way to get everyone to interact and chat before serving dessert. Of course, there are many other ways to bring your family together, give a more public thanks this time of year, and teach the youngest kids what this annual reunion is all about. Here are a few ideas to consider adding to your Turkey Day traditions:
Create a Gratitude Tree
Place a few barren sticks in a vase to create a tree that sits on a table in the room where everyone gathers after the main course. With a stack of paper leaves—cut out of orange, yellow, green, and red paper—next to the tree, encourage each person to write something they’re most thankful for on a leaf and hang it on the tree using a hole punch and piece of ribbon. Later, have someone read each leaf aloud to the group.
Volunteer as a Family
Team up and show your gratitude for one of the volunteer-run organizations in your community by donating your time to their initiatives on Thanksgiving Day. Whether you’re walking the dogs from a local animal shelter or serving meals at a soup kitchen, you’re spending time together as a family while helping others. It’s a true win-win you can feel good about.
Write Greeting Cards
Daily life can get so busy, the people who are most important pass you by. This Thanksgiving (after the kids clear the dishes), linger at the table and let everyone write a short card to a family member with whom you haven’t connected in a while. Think of the elderly who don’t know their grandchildren very well, or relatives who are otherwise unable to make it to family events. Let the smallest dinner guests draw pictures on the cards’ envelopes!
What annual Thanksgiving traditions do you have that focus on showing your gratitude to family, friends, or people in your town? I’d love to hear about it; feel free to comment below, or tweet to us at @tomsofmaine.
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.