When the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Tribe held their first Thanksgiving feast to celebrate the harvest, they never could have foreseen the major holiday it would become. From 140 people in 1621 to hundreds of millions of Americans 399 years later, Thanksgiving has become one of the largest holidays celebrated in the US. And despite it now being extremely commercialized, the core of what the holiday is all about, is still the same.
Thanksgiving is a time when we give thanks and show gratitude for what we have been given throughout the year. A time to get together with family and laugh with those we love the most. Unfortunately, as the holiday season begins and Covid shows no sign of slowing down, this Thanksgiving will be bittersweet for many. Many families will not be getting together, either because they are not allowed to or because they choose not to for health reasons. Either way, this year will be different. We still have a lot to be thankful for though. Despite its stresses, this year has made many of us slow down and stop taking so many things for granted. It’s shown us what is truly important in life. In fact, the spirit of the holiday could not be more alive.
So…cheer up, get your Grandma’s recipes out and your “I ate too much stuffing” pants on standby. We can still make this Thanksgiving one of the most memorable and best ones yet!
Start A New Tradition
There is no better time than this year to start a new family tradition. Covid has left most of us questioning pretty much everything. So, why not take matters into your own hands and actually make some change yourselves!? A great way to do that is to get your family out and truly feel the spirit of the holiday by giving back to the community. Here are some ideas on things you can do with even the youngest of kids that are also safe and socially distanced!
Rake up – Take the kids around the neighborhood and help rake up someone’s yard that needs it. It could be anyone from a single mom who doesn’t have time to an elderly couple who isn’t able to do it themselves. They will surely appreciate it and it’s something small and easy that you can do, but it just might make their week!
Fall Cleaning – Instead of Spring cleaning, how about doing a big Fall Clean Out right before Thanksgiving? Have the kids go through their toys that they don’t play with anymore and then find a great neighborhood donation spot for them. Children’s hospitals, Women and Children’s shelters, or even the public library are all great options. Not only will this get kids in the giving mood and show them how to be charitable, but it also frees up some space for any new toys they may receive for Christmas or Hanukkah!
Sponsor a family – We all know how big the food drive is during Thanksgiving. Giving canned goods is always a great thing to do! You could also try and see if you can sponsor an entire family’s Thanksgiving dinner ensuring they will have everything they need to celebrate the holiday. After the year that we have all had, it would be a true blessing for many families and might be exactly what they need.
Give Blood – This one is for the parents and older kids (you have to be 16 to donate blood), but it is something that is always needed and it is a great feeling knowing that your blood might help save a life one day.
Go Old School
Since Thanksgiving is all about spending time with family and friends, the best way to celebrate is to give each other our undivided attention that day. Especially, since it might be the first time we have seen each other in awhile! So, how about making it an old-fashioned Thanksgiving? Have everyone leave their phones at the door (or at least turned on airplane mode if you use it for photos) and really enjoy the company of each other. Have a family member that HAS to watch the football game? Yea, we understand…so do we! Try and see though if they would be willing to record it and play a family football game instead of watching one. There will be plenty of time to watch it after everyone is in their food coma later in the day!
Become A Kid Again
One of the most magical things about any holiday is watching the pure innocence and joy that children have during this time. The sparkle in their eyes is enough to bring any parent back to their own childhood. Since many of us will be having smaller and more low-key Thanksgivings this year, it’s a great time to do some fun Thanksgiving crafts with them. Check out these adorable DIY crafts that they can do; a few even double as adorable table decorations! We are sure you won’t have any trouble getting them to set the table if they can put their own masterpieces out!
DIY Crayon Turkeys (this one needs assistance from mom or dad)
If you have older kids, they might enjoy learning about the complete and complex history of Thanksgiving. It can be a controversial holiday for many Indigenous Americans, and just like most things, there are always two sides to every story. Here are some great resources for older kids to look into.
National Geographic Kids – First Thanksgiving
Scholastic – Thanksgiving Voyage
PBS – American Experience
Shake It Up
Did you know that the “traditional” food items we have on the table today, are not what the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag People ate at their Thanksgiving? Why not spice this years dinner up and try a few new recipes or even a new take on an old classic? If you are keeping the number of guests at the dinner table small this year, you could even go authentic and serve duck instead of a turkey. It is believed that duck or another small bird was served at the first Thanksgiving rather than turkey! Seafood is also not usually thought of as a traditional Thanksgiving item, but historians believe it made up a large portion of the original Thanksgiving due to their proximity to the ocean. So go ahead and try something new! It might just make your table next year!
Here are a couple delicious recipes that will bring both the old and new to your dinner table.
Maple Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes – Because I think we could all use an extra shot of alcohol this year.
Cranberry Mimosas – Are you noticing a trend here?
Cornmeal Porridge – Historians believe some sort of cornmeal porridge was most likely on the table at the first Thanksgiving, so why not give it a try!?
Roast Duck – Duck is a great alternative for a smaller Thanksgiving!
We know many families will not be able to meet up this year for Thanksgiving, and we know that is disappointing. I think we were all hoping Covid was going to be over in time for the holidays and to be able to share those special memories with our loved ones. Unfortunately though, Thanksgiving will look different for many. But let’s look at this as a freebie instead of a waste. A year when you don’t have to follow the rules! Start a new tradition, try a new food and get back to the basics of what Thanksgiving is all about!
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