What does a Thanksgiving to remember mean to you?
When you think about a Thanksgiving to remember, what comes to you mind? Family dinners with all your aunts, uncles, and cousins at your grandparents house? Or, maybe delicious, perfectly cooked turkey and homemade dressing with all the favorite side dishes? Perhaps it is the dessert buffet filled with mouth-watering Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie, and maybe even a cake or two?
Then it could also be songs, like “Over the River and Through the Woods” or the hymn, “We Gather Together”.
All of these are the memories I have of wonderful Thanksgivings when I was growing up. The sketched house in the center of the cookbook cover was my Grandmama and Granddaddy Hall’s white wood frame house. We always ate Thanksgiving dinners with them and the whole family. Precious memories. The house was destroyed by a fire in the mid-1980’s, but it held, and still holds, memories that can’t be taken away.
Creating a Thanksgiving to Remember . . .
Creating a Thanksgiving to remember can include some of these ideas plus many more. While the ones I included are what are considered “traditional” for this holiday, there are others that can, and probably should, be added to the list. But the main focus of the Thanksgiving holiday should be on God, who has given us all the blessings.
Thanksgiving, as everyone knows, was created as a day set aside to be thankful to God for His provision and blessings of the year. At that time, it followed the harvest, and the people were thankful that the harvest was over and that it was plentiful, if that was the case. Today, few of us are actually involved in a harvest, but we can still be thankful to God for those who do “put their hands to the plow”, so to speak, to provide food for this nation.
Bringing the focus of Thanksgiving back to God . . .
What can we do, as parents and grandparents, to help bring the focus of our Thanksgiving dinners/ holiday back to God?
There are several things you can incorporate into your Thanksgiving Day schedule, and even spread it out over several days leading up to Thanksgiving. Here are a few:
One such way to bring the focus back to God is to have a Blessing Bowl. This could be a cookie jar, or a beautiful fall basket or pot which would be set on a table. There would be slips of paper with pens nearby. As family members arrived, they would write something they are thankful to God for on a piece of paper, and drop it in the Blessing Bowl. After dinner, everyone would take one piece of paper, read it, and then the others guess who wrote it. That’s a great way to focus on God and express your thankfulness.
Thanksgiving Songs Playlist:
Another way to help set the mood for a God-centered Thanksgiving is to create a playlist of Thanksgiving songs and hymns. Some to consider are:
- “Over the River and Through the Woods”–this is an old song associated with Thanksgiving that I remember from my childhood.
- “We Gather Together”–a Thanksgiving hymn
- “Come, Ye Thankful People”–a Thanksgiving hymn
- “Faith of Our Fathers”–perfect for Thanksgiving as the Pilgrims came to America because of their faith
- “For the Beauty of the Earth”
You could also include just about any of our country’s patriotic songs, since nearly all, if not all, have verses about God.
The Legend of the Five Kernels:
The Legend of the Five Kernels teaches children about being thankful for God’s provision. Stone Gable Blog has a wonderful post about how this is incorporated into their Thanksgiving dinner. Essentially it retells the story about how the food was rationed because it was so scarce in 1621–allowing only 5 kernels of corn per person. Yet, they considered themselves blessed. Some say this is a true, others say it is a legend. In any event, it is an object lesson to teach children to be thankful that we have so much food in this country . . . five kernels of corn was not much to eat.
Psalm 107 and the Pilgrims, a Devotional for Thanksgiving:
While the Legend of the Five Kernels is for children, the Psalm 107 and the Pilgrims devotional is for adults. I felt led to compare this psalm with the journey of the Pilgrims some years ago. It was amazing how the two were parallel. Some examples of this are:
- The theme of Psalm 107 is thanksgiving—the first parallel.
- In the Old Testament of the Bible, we find that the children of Israel were in religious bondage and persecution during the time of Moses. Centuries later, the pilgrims found themselves undergoing those same things in England.
- Just as God led the children of Israel out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, into the wilderness, and eventually into the Promised Land, He led the pilgrims out of religious bondage and persecution, through storms at sea to the New World—their wilderness and city of habitation.
- That first year for the pilgrims was their wilderness because they had to depend on God for everything, just as the children of Israel had to do during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. The pilgrims had to depend on God to teach them and guide them on how to live and survive in this new and unfamiliar land. In their case, God brought people to help them—the Indians—who taught them how to survive.
Click on the link below to access the Psalm 107 and the Pilgrims devotional:
There are many others when you look at the “Sukkot” feast and Thanksgiving. If you are interested, check it out here:
When you place the five kernels of corn on the children’s plates, place the Psalm 107 and the Pilgrims devotional on the plates of the adults.
Plan a menu that showcases God’s provision through fruits and vegetables of the season . . .
Add foods that represent the richness and abundance of the fall harvest when planning your Thanksgiving Menu. Look at the fruits of the season as well as the vegetables associated with this time of year. On just about everyone’s menu is Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Pie or Pecan Pie–our favorites!. Then there’s Sweet Potato Casserole or Squash Casserole and corn. And, don’t forget Cranberry Relish and Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. Of course, turkey and dressing is a must at our house:)
If you would like to see my Thanksgiving to Remember Menu, click on the link below.
What would you add to this list?
After Dinner Activities . . .
Once the dinner is over, and the dishes removed, take some time talking about the Psalm 107 devotional. For example, discuss how the Pilgrims were like the children of Israel, how God brought them out and into a new land.
Then, gather the children together and do the Blessing Bowl activity. You could actually divide into teams if you want to liven up this part of the day. Assign team leaders and keep score as to how many on each team knew who wrote the blessing down.
Don’t forget to pray and thank God for all your blessings . . .
The Pilgrims first Harvest Dinner, which was the first Thanksgiving, consisted of several days of prayer, feasting, and other events. They were an extremely thankful people, and God blessed them.
Give everyone a gift of food to take home–sharing the Joy of Thanksgiving with them . . .
One of the attributes of Thanksgiving is sharing. And when you have a thankful heart, you have joy. So, bake some cookies, or make some Caramel Popcorn to share with your guests. Wrap them in pretty cellophane paper or small clear food bags tied with a ribbon of the season. That is your way of expressing your love and appreciation for all who came to celebrate Thanksgiving with you.
Another resource: “The Twelve Days of Thanksgiving: Teaching Your Children About Thanksgiving and Thankfulness . . .
I recently wrote an e-book for Kindle called, “The Twelve Days of Thanksgiving: Teaching Your Children About Thanksgiving and Thankfulness”. It is broken down into twelve days with different activities on each day to help teach children the aspects of being thankful and about Thanksgiving. I hope to get it published this week. It’s a little late for this Thanksgiving, but it can still be used for Christmas as many of the concepts are the same. Once it’s published, I will post it on my blog.
What are some things you would include in your Thanksgiving to Remember? Share them with me, I’d love to hear from you:)
I hope and pray your Thanksgiving holiday is the best you have every had. And, I hope you find something in this post that will add to your day.
God bless and Happy Thanksgiving!