Several years ago, our family began a Thanksgiving tradition.
Many of you parents can probably relate to our experience. If you do something once (that's all it takes!), and the children enjoy it, it becomes a “tradition.” That’s how we began such “traditions” as watching A Christmas Carol to begin our Christmas season...or eating dinner at The Olive Garden on the 4th of July! So at holiday time, we are careful about not doing something that we would not want to continue to do for years-on-end. But no one is reluctant to continue this particular Thanksgiving “tradition” .
At the beginning of the month, we put up our “Thankful Tree”. I cut a large tree trunk out of brown mailing paper and hang it on the inside of our front door. Then we cut many paper leaves in bright fall colors. Daily, each family member is given a leaf on which they write something that they are thankful for, and then we tape them to our tree.
It is a delight to watch our tree grow with blessings—“my guinea pig”, “God’s protection”, “my nieces and nephews”, “God’s Word”, “my new job”, “family game time”—nothing is too small or too big to include. When we have guests, we invite them to contribute to our tree. We mail leaves to Ryan’s family to allow them to participate from afar. The Thankful Tree reaches fruition on Thanksgiving Day when our extended family gathers and are asked to add their blessings.
When I take the tree down at the beginning of our Christmas season, I do not dispose of those blessings! I “rake” those very special fall leaves and save them from year to year.