HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
November 6, 2006, Herald Journal

Thanksgiving Traditions


Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday because it truly is about spending time with family and friends, loved ones, giving thanks and “feasting” on traditional dishes, whatever that may be for a particular family.

The sharing of memories, blessings and food are part of the traditions that each family shares at this special time of thanksgiving. Traditions are important for everyone, including children.

At Thanksgiving, my children know and can count on our own family traditions. Going to church, usually Wednesday evening, getting up on Thanksgiving morning and watching the Thanksgiving parade, and going to their cousins for Thanksgiving dinner.

Each year, our family brings the cranberries, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie to our family dinner. I try to involve the children in helping to make these dishes. Whether it’s washing the cranberries, adding some ingredients, or stirring, my children love to be part of preparing for the festivities.

It is important we involve our children in the preparations and traditions.

Here are some other ideas to get your little loved ones involved in the holiday doings that could be part of their wonderful holiday memories:

• Have your children decorate a children’s table, whether it’s a card table or part of the dining table. Provide your child with some crepe paper for your children to wrap around the table legs, etc. Using paper, crayons, markers and whatever other art and craft supplies you may have, allow your children to create homemade placemats for the children’s table. Cover the placemats with clear contact paper to save them and use them again.

• Your children could even make simple place cards out of construction paper and crayons to add to the table décor.

• Creating a centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table is an activity many children would be proud to do and display. A pine cone turkey craft, which we have made, is a very cute craft idea.

www.enchantedlearning.com offered these directions for making a turkey out of a pine cone, an acorn or nut in a shell, brown, red, orange and yellow construction paper (or any colors children choose for the turkey feathers), googly eyes and some clay.

Cut out construction paper feathers. Put a small amount of clay on one side of the pine cone to steady it on the table. The pine cone transforms into the turkey’s body.

Glue the construction paper feathers to the top of the wide side of the pine cone and the acorn to the front of the turkey. Hot glue may work the best, and adults may have to help with this step.

Glue on two googly eyes and a small piece of construction paper for the turkey’s wattle. Let the glue set. And you’ve got a wonderful Thanksgiving table turkey decoration!

• Make Thanksgiving turkey cupcakes with your children to share on Thanksgiving Day. There are many renditions of these turkey cupcakes. Familyfun, Nov., 2006 offered this fairly simple cupcake idea.

After the cupcakes have cooled, frost them with chocolate frosting (or other flavor of choice). Using three oval shortbread cookies, press one in for the head and the other two for the wings.

Using about six to ten candy corn pieces, press in a row or two for the tail feathers. Make an eye on the head with a small dot of frosting. Using the white tip from a candy corn, press the beak in place and add a wattle using part of a fruit roll or licorice or whatever your little ones can imagine would work, or you have on hand.

• Play the Cornucopia game or some other simple game, such as hiding some gourds, acorns, paper turkeys and having the children find them. To play the Cornucopia game, players sit in chairs forming a circle with one more player than there are chairs, similar to musical chairs. The player without a chair is the leader and gives each of the other players a Thanksgiving related name, such as, “Cranberry, Turkey, Pumpkin Pie, Corn, etc.”

The leader then calls out two names, such as “turkey and corn.” Those two players must quickly switch places. The leader keeps calling at a quick pace, until she suddenly calls “The cornucopia has tipped over!”

Everyone, including the leader, then scrambles for a new place. The player without a seat is the new leader. The leader may give the same name to more than one person. This game can be confusing, the website noted, but fun!