Still trying to decide what new tradition to implement this Thanksgiving season?
Don’t be overwhelmed. Just find one thing – you can do it.
Remember, traditions are the “We all” of family.
We always do this on Thanksgiving day…
It’s something simple, yet meaningful that will be remembered for years to come.

This month I have began by contemplating what was in our family “jumping pile.” I then suggested sharing your family’s story, letting the kids go crazy as they become reporters for Thanksgiving day, as well as some last minute crafty ideas.

I shared about my family’s Blessings Journal a few weeks ago. That journal carries the idea of gratefulness through the whole year, but one of our November Gratitude traditions is physically placing our Leaves of Thanks in a place where we are reminded of our blessings specifically throughout the month of November.Below is my wrought iron tree which allows me to hang my Leaves of Thanks for Thanksgiving, but I use it each month for our different tradition ideas. This has become a central centerpiece of establishing our “once a month memory moments”. We hang our trees for the “12 days of Christmas challenge” in December, New Year’s dedications in January, Hearts of Loving kindness in February, and my character keys mixed in throughout the whole year. I will share more about that in a future post, but we focus one particular tradition idea combined with a character building emphasis every month.

Each month we focus on one character quality and then look for ways throughout the month that the kids are demonstrating that virtue. At night, we light the candle of honor and present them with their character key, and then we….oh, I am getting carried away – that’s another post.
For November, it’s….yes, Gratitude.

The Leaves of Thanks are a wonderful Thanksgiving Day tradition and also makes a treasured keepsake for future generations. Set harvest colored leaves in a basket or on the dinner table. Ask each guest to write down what they are thankful for and take turns reading them during dessert. You can collage them into the Thanksgiving Album along with one great photo of the family around the dinner table, holding their leaves. It’s the making of a tradition your family will revere for so many years to come.
If this is a tradition that you already do, are you saving those slips of paper? If not, start now. Can you imagine how powerful it is to pull those Gratitude slips out and revisit them over the years? I am beginning to add those into the Thanksgiving album that I started. I can handle that – one page a year, and the whole album is dedicated to Thanksgiving.


Live, Laugh, Love Club's October Workshop & Key of Gratitude

Make your own “Golden Lists.”
It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the frustrations and disappointments that are part of normal daily life. Sometimes we need a little reminder to help us stay focused on all of the wonderful things we are blessed to have. Ask each family member to write 10 things they are grateful for on their own personal “Golden List.” You can help the little ones by writing it for them or having them draw symbolic pictures. Hang these “Golden Lists” in places where you are sure to see them everyday, such as the bathroom wall, the bedroom doorknob or the kitchen bulletin board. This simple tradition will make being grateful a daily habit for everyone in your family.

A more “crafty” take on this tradition is the Tree of Thanks.

Every year my sister in love does a huge one. She cuts out a full size tree (it covers their whole sliding glass deck door), and they write people’s names that they are thankful for along the trunk and branches, and then they add specific items on their cut out leaves.
The key to this is thinking outside the box….try and engage the older children into thinking further than “I am thankful for food, my family, my house.”
How about modeling specific things such as, ” I am thankful for the farmers who work tirelessly with no guarantees of a successful crop.”

I didn’t take a picture of my s-i-l’s last year because I hadn’t started blogging.
That’s why I was so excited to find out that my sweet new blogging friend, Jessica, has a picture of her thankful tree, and she has a template for the leaves on her site as well.
Go see her tree in person, but
PLEASE ignore her MN Viking part….I almost didn’t link to her because of it…it was a tough decision…hee hee 🙂 GO PACKERS!

Down below is another version of my s-i-l’s tree. This one is a smaller one taken from my November traditions newsletter. I don’t know how to format it, but I’ll give it a shot. Be gracious if it looks funny. Remember I am working my holiday market and just have this to post at midnight without a chance to view it first. 🙂

Turkey Placemats This year have your kids help you assign seating for Thanksgiving with homemade, personalized turkey placements. Select a color of textured construction paper that goes with your Thanksgiving décor (tan, olive green, gold, burnt orange) and buy enough to cut placemats for every guest. Have the children place their hand on the placemats and outline their hand with a pen or pencil to make a turkey shape. Dress up each turkey with paper feathers in harvest colors and add the name of the person who will be using that placemat for dinner. If you want to make these placemats really special, ask the children to write what they are grateful for about each person on that person’s placemat.  Make it a surprise for the adults. Not only will everyone know where to sit, but they will have a memorable Thanksgiving keepsake to take home. Keys of Happiness. What better way to start conversations in your home then when you present a family member with one of our Keys  of Happiness. Dad gets the Responsibility Key for all he does at work. Timmy gets the Honesty Key and Suzie gets the Courage Key. Conversations will be plentiful and everyone will want to be a part of it. Includes: Love, Joy, Dream, Compassion, Responsibility, Courage, Family, Faith, Honesty, Gratitude, Patience, Perseverance. No substitutions

A Thanksgiving Album is the perfect place to preserve your Thanksgiving photos but, even more importantly, the family tradition you enjoy every year that is based on gratitude. This foldout-style book makes it easy to place one photo per year of your family engaged in your favorite Thanksgiving activity. Bring it out two weeks before the holiday for everyone to enjoy as they anticipate the upcoming event.
I have loved beginning holiday albums. I live in guilt for the used scrapbook “store” that I have in my hall closet. Now I have let the guilt go, and I focus on one page a year for the different holidays. I have an Thanksgiving, Christmas, V-Day, Easter, and a 4th of July one….the list actually goes on for each holiday.
The day after Thanksgiving we always take a picture of our family in the mountains at the same Christmas tree farm in Boone, NC. That is one of our Thanksgiving traditions.
It has been so fun to see the same picture each year, and compare how the kids have grown (or I should say how we added a child to the picture for four straight years . 🙂

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