Just yesterday, my mother-in-law called to say that this year’s Thanksgiving dinner at her home will be a small one, just for the immediate family. She explained that it would be too physically tiring for her to organize the usual large and elaborate dinners that she’s so known for. For as long as I can remember, my family and I have driven to Summerland every Thanksgiving to spend a weekend filled with food and laughter with my mother-in-law and her husband, family & friends. Many of my memories of Thanksgiving come from the traditions and customs that my mother-in-law has passed down to me. It dawned on me that as the years fly by, it would get tougher for Doreen to continue preparing these wonderful large meals for so many of us.
So much of what we do and believe in depends on what our parents and grandparents pass on to us. As they get on in life, it’s our responsibility to take on that role ourselves to pass these on to our children and their children.
It is a bitter sweet feeling, a sense of realizing how valuable time is with our parents. Each visit, each conversation and time together is so precious. So this year, while my celebration of Thanksgiving may be a little different, I have a better appreciation and gratitude for my mother-in-law and all those before me who have made me the person I am.
Email me your unique family traditions and we will post them on our blog to share with others!
Creating Your Own Thanksgiving Traditions
Many families have traditions they observe on Thanksgiving Day. Yes, there is the usual turkey, parades and football but does your family have a unique way of celebrating Thanksgiving? Here are five ways in which you can make Thanksgiving mean more than just another big dinner between Halloween and Christmas.
2) Plan a Service Project— Select a project that you’d like to support this Thanksgiving, then let all your guests know so that they can contribute in cash or kind. A friend I know supports a local women’s shelter and requests for her guests to bring along little bottles of soaps and shampoo, sanitary napkins, toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss These are then packed and sent to the shelter where they are much welcome.
3) Preserving the Memories – Create a master Thanksgiving Book and bring this out each Thanksgiving to be added to. Toss in that year’s recipes, pictures, write-ups of any craft or service projects, list of attendees, etc. Have everyone add their wish or goal for the coming year and review them each Thanksgiving Day.
4) Take Turns to Host the Dinner – While it is great to have Mom do all the cooking each year, how about giving her a break and taking turns to host the meal among your siblings or even cousins? To lighten the load of the host family, make it a potluck where each family is assigned a dish to bring. Each family can then introduce their own Thanksgiving practices and traditions.
5) Plant a Fall Garden – In most families, gardening is normally left to one or two members of the family. How about following in the footsteps of our forefathers and getting the whole family involved in planting and harvesting a Fall Garden? Many vegetables are well adapted to planting in the summer for fall harvest. Planting a fall garden will extend the gardening season so you can continue to harvest fresh produce. Just check with your local nursery to find out the best flowers and vegetables for this particular season.
Build on long-loved traditions and create new ones that will add meaning and richness to your family’s Thanksgiving celebrations. And instead of having one or two labor in the kitchen for hours, make sure you work to allow everyone to participate in making the day special. Remember that Thanksgiving is all about connecting with loved ones and giving thanks.
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