Many Americans think of Thanksgiving as a wonderful time to celebrate getting out of school and work for a long weekend, get together with friends and family and eat a great dinner. Some may think of it as the start of the Christmas holiday season. What is the real meaning behind Thanksgiving?
It may be traced to the historic American Christian tradition to the year 1623. After the harvest crops were gathered, Governor William Bradford of the 1620 Pilgrim Colony, “Plymouth Plantation” in Plymouth, Massachusetts proclaimed: "All ye Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House, on the hill… there to listen to the pastor, and render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings."
Thanksgiving has been celebrated in this country as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it as a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens", to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.
Whichever way you decide to celebrate this holiday, it brings a spirit of companionship, hospitality, and expression of gratitude. Here are some ideas how you and your family can bring more words of kindness and appreciation to your celebration. They may add more fun and kindness to the spirit of Thanksgiving, as well as to help to create some new family traditions.
1. Thankful Words
After the Thanksgiving meal, give each person three kernels of corn or three small marshmallows. Pass a cup around and once the cups arrives to someone, they put one of the pieces into the cup and say something they are thankful for. The cup goes all around 3 times till everyone has said things that they are thankful for. This can bring up wonderful thankful words. While the cup is passed around, people have time to think about what they are most thankful for.
2. Thanksgiving Charades
During the days leading up to Thanksgiving, ask each family member to write down or ask a parent to write down, something that they are thankful for, big or small. Add to the jar throughout the week. On Thanksgiving Day, pull the papers out of the jar and have people try and guess who wrote what.
3. Gratitude Grab Bag
Make up cards, some that say "THANKSGIVING" and others that have a picture on them (no words) of things children may be thankful for. Each child takes a turn reaching into the bag and pulling out a card. If the card says "THANKSGIVING" the child should express something or someone they are thankful for (parents, teachers, pet, favorite food, etc.) If they pull out a picture they show it to all and then express why we should be thankful for that item (food, clothes, trees, grass, stores, cars, etc.). This game is especially fun for preschoolers and their expressions of gratitude are priceless.
Have a wonderful holiday!