It’s All About Family–and Tradition!

tgiving.jpgThough the Pilgrims could never have envisioned it as such, Thanksgiving is the calm before the storm. A day set aside to reflect on our blessings and bounties before the craziness of the Christmas holidays hit.

I’m fortunate to have all our daughters living here in our city, and we get together every Sunday for a big family dinner, without fail, which my husband and I absolutely treasure. But as my family grows with grandbabies and sons-in-law, I’m feeling the need to establish some traditions apart from those we had with my own parents. A special day and meal to stand out from the 52 Sunday meals we already share.

Thanksgiving tradition comes in many varieties for many families, but it’s perhaps most meaningful of all to the children.

Here’s a few tradition ideas that I’ve found delightful:

**The week before, make a Thanksgiving Tree. Draw a large tree trunk and branches on poster board. You could even use a small *real* tree branch. Attach to a door or wall. Make construction paper leaves out of fall colors. On the days before Thanksgiving, have everyone in the family write something they’re thankful for. Attach to the tree each day. What a great display of all our blessings!

**If you’re like me, Thanksgiving is the day to lay out a beautiful table with china, tablecloth and lit candles. However, children can lend their touch with ‘Sugar Cone Cornucopias’ which will keep little hands busy while waiting for guests to arrive. These could even be used as name cards if you wish. Simply take sugar cones and decorate with fruit candies. Tie a ribbon around the opening of the cone and write guest names on using turkey.jpgstore-bought decorator icing. Place paper doilies over saucers, set the cone on top, and fill with candies such as candy corn, citrus slices or raspbelly jellies.

**Designate a special tablecloth to use during each Thanksgiving dinner. Provide fabric markers and have each guest write a message or something they’re thankful for. Be sure to date each message!

 **This one is an absolute must at our house.  Talk about what you’re thankful for!  Everyone gets a turn to say something, and when my daughters were younger, they’d groan about it, but invariably, by the time we’ve gone around the table, there’s nary a dry eye left.

**Instead of joining a gazillion shoppers the day after, have Family Friday. Stay home, play games, watch a movie together. Enjoy those you love most without the distractions of the outside world. Make Mexican or bring in pizza. Something different than turkey. Those leftovers will keep!thanksgiving.jpg

These are just a few tradition ideas that will help make Thanksgiving even more special. 

Do you have any you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear them!

Have a wonderful, blessed holiday tomorrow!

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Pam has written 30 romances, most of them historical westerns, but her newest releases are contemporary sweet romances featuring the Blackstone Ranch series published by Tule Publishing. Stay up on the latest at

15 thoughts on “It’s All About Family–and Tradition!”

  1. Pam, I absolutely love the idea of the tree and leaves. That might be the elementary school person in me, but i think that’s so cool!

    Of course out Thanksgiving is long over with north of the border, but we always have our dinner on Sunday rather than the Monday, because then on the holiday Monday when everyone is home, we relax and have hot turkey sandwiches for lunch!

    Family Friday has a place in our house too but is probably more like Slob Sunday. After church and lunch, very often I’ll bake something with the kids, then we’ll sample it while snuggling on the couch with a dvd.

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

  2. Our traditions are fairly … uh… traditional. 🙂
    We’re having turkey and the usual side dishes. I come from a huge family and we already had our Thanksgiving last Sunday.
    My husband’s mother spends her winters in Texas where it’s WARM so we do a fall get together before she heads south, so that’s over. Thanksgiving will be, this year, for the first time, in my daughter’s new house. I’m looking forward to that. I’m the one who is going over the river and through the woods, so to speak, to get to Thanksgiving.
    It’s fun watching a new generation pick up the traditions and claim them as their own.

  3. Hi, Donna! I LOVE Slob Sunday. LOL!

    Hey, Mary–I know what you mean about a new generation picking up the traditions. You’ll love how your daughters will continue some of the very same things you did–because it’s a fond memory you’ve made for them.

    It’s snowing here–our first of the season. Perfect timing!

  4. Pam – Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It truly is the calm before the storm. It’s MY holiday and one time when I switched with my sister, me doing Christmas, she doing Thanksgiving, my kids went ballistic. They love the traditions we set with Thanksgiving. Mind you, my kids are 29 and 26, but Dad always makes up an outdoor game and all the family plays – usually 16 of us, while the turkey cooks away. This year, it’s a velcro baseball game – my hubby built a frame and mounted cylinders that turn with Homerun, single, double, etc. We’ve had ping-pong golf and variations of badmintion and croquet too. The kids in the family, (especially, Eric, our college baseball pitcher) are extremely competitive and usually play well into the evening.

  5. Oh Pam! I love these ideas! Might have to start incorporating them into my family’s traditions, especially the tree idea! Very cool!

    We have Thanksgiving with my family, my mom’s side, so we’ll be going up to my parents’ tomorrow(a 2 1/2 to 3 hr drive). I must bring the mac and cheese…a requirement or surely they’d kick me out the door if I didn’t show up with it! LOL

    I’m also going to make a homemade apple pie today to take tomorrow as well.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving~ May we all be blessed with lots of good food and the great company of loved ones. If traveling, you ladies be careful and stay safe!

    Happy Thanksgiving Fillies!

  6. Pam, this is really wonderful. It brings tears to my eyes, actually, to read it because I’m away from home for the holidays, and I miss my family so very, very much.

    It’s been so long since I WASN’T fixing either Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner, that it seems strange to me.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

  7. Wonderful ideas, Pam! I like the idea of the Thanksgiving tree with all the things we’re grateful for attached. I’d need a big tree to handle all the things I hold so dear. I envy Charlene and the family games they play. That would be fun. I don’t have enough for that, but we might play Yahtzee or some card games like Skip-Bo. That’s fun.

    One thing I will do is light a candle for each loved one who’s passed on. It’s my way of honoring their memory. This year I’ll light a special one for my husband. I’m so grateful for the years we had together.

    Oh shoot, I’m having trouble seeing the screen! Anyway, I wish each visitor to P&P a happy Thanksgiving. And I’m hugging my sister fillies! We’re a family of sorts even though we live all over the country. God bless each of you special ladies.

  8. Charlene, wow! I think it’s awesome that your husband went all out to make a family game. It sounds like your T-giving is wa-ay more fun than mine. 🙂

    Taryn, macaroni & cheese? I’m guessing the kids go for that more than sweet potatoes? Cranberries? Green beans? You must have a good recipe if it’s tradition for you and yours.

  9. Karen, you’re going to be away from your family for the holiday? Oh, no! I’m sad for you!

    And dear, sweet Linda. This is your first Thanksgiving without your husband, and I can only imagine how hard it will be for you. I love the idea of lighting a candle for him. What a beautiful symbol of the light he’s brought into your life.

  10. Actually Pam, this “tradition” of mac and cheese only started a couple of years ago. My husband doesn’t like the sweet potatoes, cranberries or green beans all that well(he’s more finicky about what he eats than my kids LOL), so I told my mom I’d contribute one of his favorites to the dinner.

    It’s actually just my mac I make at home- a bit of butter, milk, Velveeta and shredded cheddar and elbow mac. I don’t have the recipe written down…just do it from memory. Anyway, I took it a couple of years ago and everyone raved over it, so it’s become a staple of our get togethers. Everyone knows that’s what I’ll be bringing. ;o)

    Sometimes I also make Bisquick sausage balls and for other gatherings I sometimes make this lovely dessert my mom always makes that has cream cheese, cheesecake mix(minus the graham cracker crust mix), pineapple and pecans(or walnuts) in it. It’s delicious. I call it Pineapple Surprise.

  11. Thanks for the great tradition ideas, Pam. And hugs to you, Linda–your candles will be beautiful. I like to think all our loved ones are close by at Thanksgiving. On my bookshelf is a photo of the last Thanksgiving dinner my mother prepared. Standing with me beside the table are my mother, her sister and my father, all three of them well into their eighties. There were only the four of us (a neighbor popped in and took the picture), and I just sat back and listened to those dear old people talk. By the next year my darling aunt was gone and my mother was battling terminal cancer. Now my father is gone, too. But I love looking at that picture. This year, with my children going elsewhere, I’ll be celebrating with some friends. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  12. As I read this, hubby is getting the turkey ready to brine! We always have everybody over, and love the full house. This year will be special with our baby grandson, his first Thanksgiving. One niece is a vegetarian so we’ll have plenty of veggie dishes along with all the traditionals. Hopefully the weather holds and the Santa Ana wind don’t blow so we can eat outside. Thanksgiving blessings to all of you and especially you authors. Petticoats and Pistols is one of my favorite places to go!

  13. Taryn, you sound like a great cook and a wife who definitely takes care of her husband! Enjoy those goodies!

    Elizabeth, what a poignant comment. Your family will be with you in spirit, and I hope you’ll be together with the children at Christmas. It’ll be your turn!

  14. Tanya, I can’t *imagine* having Thanksgiving outside. Here in the Midwest, it’s unheard of. LOL.

    Estella, I hope your holiday fulfills the anticipation you’ve been feeling all year. Now that it’s hear, treasure the moments!

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