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3 Simple Ways to Make Thankfulness a Family Tradition

By Melissa Summers

I’m a huge fan of Thanksgiving; it’s the perfect time to teach kids to reflect on all the things they have to be grateful for before the onslaught of consumerism in the following weeks.

I also love how it’s the official start of the season of celebrations and memories for kids. Here are three simple ways to make some life-long memories with your children, by establishing some simple traditions.

Three Ways to Be Thankful This Year

Thanksgiving CraftsGet creative. Your kids can help you decorate for Thanksgiving dinner by making a Thankful Tree. You will need some small branches for the tree and colored construction paper for the leaves. Cut out the leaves, write something you are thankful for on each leaf, and then glue them to the branches. Arrange the branches in a jar or vase. For smaller kids, you can draw a tree on a piece of poster board and let them glue their leaves to that — then hang it on the dining room wall or display it on the table. This is a craft that you can do ahead of time, or one that kids can do on Thanksgiving day while they wait for the food.

Count your blessings. I attended an amazing Thanksgiving meal last year with a dear friend’s extended family. During dinner everyone at the table shared something they were thankful for (I was thankful that family isn’t just the people you’re related to). If you want to incorporate this ritual into your family’s meal, think about using the Five Kernels of Corn approach: Place five corn kernels at each place. Pass a basket around the table — everyone says five things they are thankful for, and puts one kernel of corn into the basket for each thing. The kernels help keep kids on track (although if you have young children, or lots of dinner guests, you might want to keep it to two or three kernels because you know how kids can get going and it would be nice to eat while the food is hot).

Thanksgiving CraftsMake a wish. As a child my brother and I always got to break the wishbone after our Thanksgiving meal, at least until my sister got old enough to want in on the action. These tiny wooden wishbones from Lucky Break solve the problem nicely — everyone gets a chance to make a wish and there’s no fighting at the table. About this, at least.

My family of origin had other Thanksgiving traditions, like my father arguing about nothing with his siblings until there were tears, and green jello with a dollop of mayonnaise on it as a side dish. I like these options a lot more.

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Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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I really love the Wondertime branches. Very cute.
The kids in my extended family traditionally makes those little Oreo/candy turkey jobbies while the adults drink too much wine and eat a lot of the malted milk ball turkey bodies. My teeth hurt just thinking about this, actually.


My family has done the corn kernel thank you idea. The corn was actually from my dad’s field too.
I love Thanksgiving for the same reasons as Melissa.