A New Twist on a Common Tradition

I love Thanksgiving. It’s likely my favorite holiday because it involves my two loves – family and food!  Like many other families, we have a tradition of going around the table during the meal and naming something for which we are thankful. It’s common to mention the obvious, “my kids, God’s love, great friends, etc.” because those are easily identified and don’t require much personal reflection or creativity.  The same, predictable answers year after year can make this a tired activity.  How can you add a new twist on this family tradition and stimulate more engaging conversation around the table? Try some of these ideas this year and watch the sparkle in their eyes when they speak of thankfulness.

Bring an object.  Ask each person to bring a single object to illustrate something for which they are thankful.  One of my sons brought a picture of a recent family ski trip to note his gratefulness for a holiday getaway. Another son brought a football to show he was thankful to be able to play sports. I was delighted no one came to the table with a video game controller! Let other family members guess what the object represents and let each explain their object. You’ll enjoy the discussions that give you a window to their hearts.

Create something.  Pull out the box of arts and crafts supplies and get creative. Instruct each person to create something that was particularly special to them this year.  Working on their masterpieces, the conversation will naturally drift toward sharing great memories, laughs and dreams of years to come. Not sure what to put in your art box?  Include things like paper, markers, glue, pipe cleaners, glitter, scissors, etc.  Oh, and don’t forget the googly eyes!

Act it out.  One of my favorite variations of “What Are You Thankful For?” is playing charades with memories from the year. You can write down family highlights or let everyone submit favorites. Think about the big and small events that have given you reason for thanksgiving this year. Let your family participate individually or work together to act out an experience, while the rest of you enjoy the theatrics.

Tell a story.  The Thanksgiving table is a perfect setting for storytelling. At our gatherings, the same stories seem to resurface each year.  This year, ask your family to tell a story about something they learned or wisdom they gained.  I’ve loved hearing my sons recount an event I didn’t recognize as significant and seeing a small nugget of truth was picked up along the way.

Holidays are rich with family traditions, but they don’t have to be routine and boring. Give some extra consideration to the traditions in your family and think creatively as to how you can spice them up this year to strengthen the ties that bind you together.  Sharing words of gratitude focuses our hearts on the goodness of God.  Let everything we do this season flow from our praise and worship of our Savior, Jesus. Be happy in your thanksgiving!

You can download a list of holiday traditions with scripture connections here.


About Kim Heinecke   Read more by this author...

Kim Heinecke wants to live in a world where children listen to the advice of their mothers without question. As a former single mom she’s been encouraging women using her life experiences in parenting, growing in the Word of God and everything in between. When she’s not negotiating with a teenager or wrestling a pre-schooler, you can find her camping in the family RV or pretending to understand sports with her husband and four sons. Read more from Kim at www.kheinecke.com.

Recent Articles

A Thankful Heart is a Healthier Heart

considering the impact gratitude has on this organ called the heart – that is, looking at a wider outlook on life that involves noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of our world.

Read More

The Single Mom and Holiday Loneliness

Loneliness can be a difficult wilderness for single moms. It’s hard enough during ten months out of the year, but in the months of November and December, it reaches new heights, much like an out-of-control toothache.

Read More

Pray for Joy

From the stage the pastor prayed for joy in our homes. That struck a nerve with me. I get caught up in the chaos of work, raising four sons, managing a household and desperately trying to plan meals that are a step up from macaroni and cheese. It seems there’s always a very long ‘to-do’ list, a pressing ‘to-go’ list and never a shortage of things on my ‘to handle’ list. Where do I have time to fit JOY into the equation?

Read More