7 Ideas for ThanksgivingBy Dan Vis
November 25, 2021
Note: It's been a couple years since I posted this, but it suggests some creative ideas, and I thought it might be worth sharing again. Be sure to leave a note in the comments below sharing your favorite idea for making this week's big holiday more meaningful.
Thanksgiving is in trouble. With the growing popularity of Halloween and the increasing commercialization of Christmas, Thanksgiving seems to be getting the squeeze. One newspaper published a cartoon picturing zombies chasing reindeer. The caption explained that's what happens when you start promoting Christmas before Halloween!
Yes Thanksgiving seems to be getting squished out between these other big holidays (and Black Friday doesn't help either). But personally, it's my favorite of the three. And I think pausing for a moment to give special thanks to God is a great idea.
One thing that could help to revive this holiday is to infuse it with a few new traditions. Many families have Thanksgiving traditions already, of course. Many involve certain foods and favorite dishes. And often it includes going around the circle and sharing something we're thankful for. But why not try something more creative? Listed below are seven fresh ideas to consider this year. Perhaps one or two will resonate with you, and can help spark a new tradition in your family.
1. Invite people over.
Our family has made it a point to try and invite people who don't have family nearby, and have had many full tables as a result. It's more work, but also a lot more fun. In fact the more people you have, the more festive the celebration! Holidays can be a lonely time for some people. Your invitation can make all the difference in someone's enjoyment of the day. And seeing their happiness is a great reward.
2. Play a board game.
Rather than just eating a giant meal and then sitting around, try getting a new board game everyone can play and set aside some time for a round or two. Games give family members a chance to interact and spend time together in a way they don't normally. Turn off the digital devices and get some real face time together. Consider a cooperative board game--like Pandemic or Flash Point--where the players have to work together to win the game, rather than compete against each other. Try Google to research this interesting genre of games.
3. Spend some time outside.
Take a walk, play catch, or sit around an outdoor fire and enjoy the evening. After all of that cooking and eating, it feels great to step outside and breathe the crisp air. Walking after a big meal helps get the blood circulating, causing the food to digest more quickly, and keeping your mind active and alert. Just be sure to bundle up if it's cold!
4. Tell stories.
Rather than just having everyone share something they are thankful for, how about having each person share a story. What is their warmest Thanksgiving memory? Or favorite Thanksgiving story. Describe an event that left them deeply grateful. Share the kindest thing someone ever did for you? The most generous act you ever observed? Or come up with a topic of your own. Stories invite us to open up in deeper ways, and get us to share more. They are also powerful teaching moments for children.
5. Write thank you cards.
Have someone purchase a supply of nice thank you cards before Thanksgiving, and then at one point in the festivities, have everyone think of some person who was a blessing to them (can be a person from their recent or more distant past). Then pass out the cards, and have them write a short note expressing their appreciation. Mail these out the next day. They won't get to their destination on Thanksgiving, but when it does come in, it will still be a meaningful reminder that you care.
6. Show Generosity.
Sometimes you can jumpstart the Holiday spirit by encouraging everyone in the family to do something generous. Ask your kids to collect the clothes or toys they don’t like or need, or extra things from around the house--and then share them with some charity, or a family you know that is in need. This action helps to teach your children the importance of doing good deeds without any return or recognition. Small children especially, will see this as a grand adventure!
7. Connect with loved ones.
If you have family or friends who live at a distance, why not try connecting with them using Skype or some other video conferencing software. Make arrangements in advance to connect, and then set aside a few moments on Thanksgiving to say hello and catch up. In fact, depending on the technology you are using, you may even be able to link in several people at the same time and get them all talking to each other. Instant family reunion! You don't have to talk long, but use the opportunity to express how much you appreciate these loved ones, for the blessing they have been in your life.
The Bible is filled with counsel and instruction to live lives of thanksgiving. And most of us have plenty of things to be grateful for. If you live in a country where Thanksgiving is celebrated, why not do what you can to preserve the real meaning of this Holiday. And for all of us, let's commit to making thanksgiving a more important part of our life!
CommentsSo what about you? What traditions were popular in your home? Which do you find most meaningful still today? Share a note or two in the comments below. Any of the ideas above appeal to you? If so which, and why?
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/25/21|
|Hi David! Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving today. It is a special day, but you're right--so important to keep Christ at the center of it, and focus on what He has done for us. :)|
|Posted by David Jeffrey Grabe on 11/24/21|
|Greetings, Pastor Dan & Family, and all FASTLANDERs, in the Merciful, Gracious, & Beneficent Name of Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour!
What a wonderful post on some truly great ideas for Thanksgiving! I especially like the board game and the facetime with family ideas and many of the others I have tried to incorporate into the holiday. Thank you so much for suggesting these to make the Thanksgiving holiday truly a time for giving thanks!
"Sing unto the LORD, O you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness." Psalms 30:4Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving, as we remember all the Kindnesses and mercies of our Heavenly Father to us!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/26/19|
|Looks like you have a birthday coming up then Carole! I wish you all the best. I think the cards idea is a nice one too. :)|
|Posted by Denise Buglino on 11/26/19|
|The link above for Project Hope is "blocked access". I wanted to use it to invite friends by e-mail because the other link for "GoPro" doesn't take one to the correct page either. I need a working link please.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/27/17|
|Sounds like a wonderful experience Wendelina! Would be so nice to participate in something like that.|
|Posted by Qing Ling on 11/25/17|
|Jessie you are loved! and yes, sometimes when special events happen where people tend to gather and we are on our own, it can amplify our feelings of loneliness - but as you can see from Diane's message (and Dan's example too), there's always someone around that would gladly include others in their family gatherings if they could. I sometimes feel like I have no one around me too, even being married, but that's just Satan taking the opportunity to amplify lies in my head. I know that Jesus loves me and because His infinite love fills my cup to overflowing, I get busy looking for ways to include others in my life even if at first it seems like there isn't anyone to reach out to. And by God's blessing, He always brings people to my life that I can be a blessing to.
Valerie Smit I have always found Thanksgiving a foreign idea as well, but it's creeping into Australia, even Black Friday sales! I don't think holidays are connected to each other.. they just happen to occur in the calendar - but the same way we capitalise on the opportunity of Christmas season to highlight God's gift to us in His Son Jesus, I can see how we can capitalise on the Thanksgiving annual celebration in making extra special effort to show people how much we appreciate them.
I am especially thankful for FAST for continuing to hold up the beacon of discipleship based on internalising God's Word - we need to be transformed from the inside out, and FAST teaches people how to do just that! I love how John 6:63It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. connects the power of the Holy Spirit with God's Word.
|Posted by Berith Bermejo on 11/23/17|
|A comment for you above, Dan.
Hi Valerie Smit, you can tag a person by clicking their picture beside their comment. That way they get a note saying you mentioned them and they can read what you say. :)
|Posted by Valerie Smit on 11/22/17|
|So, Dan Vis, how did it get started, & where does Halloween come from?
how can you have such a Christian holiday followed so soon by such a pagan holiday??
|Posted by Carole Bliss on 11/21/17|
|Jessie, Thank God you are part of the family of God.
You are part of this mission, and may you always know, HE is with you.
wishing you unexpected blessings this week, and every week.
|Posted by Diane Castanon on 11/20/17|
|@wheelz4Christ, your current situation sounds so sad...it breaks my heart. What state do you live in? Maybe one of us can bring you home for Thanksgiving. I live in Northern California.
Wheelchairs don’t bother me. I’m a Registered Nurse and took care of my mother the last 2 years of her life, while I worked from home. She was mainly bed-bound, but I got her up to a wheelchair daily, and made sure she wasn’t disconnected from people.
Jesus loves you sooo much! Jeremiah 31:3The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.. May you feel the warmth and love of God’s powerfully loving arms encircle you. Hugs!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/20/17|
|What an amazing story Carole! I think Thanksgiving must be extra special to you as a result! :)|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/20/17|
|What a great idea Valerie. We have done that in the past and found it quite rewarding. :)|
|Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 11/20/17|
|I am thinking of how I can be of service to someone less fortunate. If possible, I will be helping serve those who are less fortunate to have food on a regular basis.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/24/16|
|Good suggestion Rhonda. I think serving others reminds us of the blessings we have, and thus creates gratitude!
Seems many of our members are enjoying the holidays. Been a little slow online today. That's a good thing!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/22/16|
|Wow! That's original Joyce! Sounds like a lot of fun. Make sure they all get something special to eat on Thanksgiving. :)|
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