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Thanksgiving Family Traditions Ideas for the Hard Times

I love thanksgiving! It’s my favorite holiday. I look forward to our Thanksgiving family traditions more than any of the habits and rituals surrounding the other special family celebrations. But sometimes the holidays are hard, and when families are fractured by sin and addiction we don’t always feel like spending a day giving thanks. The thing is, these are often the most important times for us to make the choice to adjust our attitudes and cultivate a spirit of gratitude, not just in ourselves, but in our families!

So we’ve put together some fun ideas for thanksgiving family traditions that can be special anytime, but become even more important in the hard times.

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Thanksgiving Family Traditions Ideas for the Hard Times

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Thanksgiving Coloring Pages

Thanksgiving Family Traditions Ideas for Using Scripture

What better way to refocus our hearts off our hurt and brokenness, and onto our amazing Savior than with Scripture? There are TONS of really cool thanksgiving family traditions out there centered around Scripture, but here are a few of my favorites.

Make a “Thankfulness Tree” Using Bible Verses

Have you ever heard of a thankfulness tree? They are most often used to display cards on which members of the family have written out their annual testimonies of gratitude. That’s an awesome Thanksgiving family tradition, but I think it would be even more meaningful if along with the “what I’m thankful for” cards, there were also cards with verses expressing thankfulness and praise to God Almighty!

There are about a thousand ways you could do this, but my favorite is just to collect some fallen limbs from outside, and arrange them together in a large vase. Then just attach your cards with some pretty red, orange, yellow, and brown ribbon.

Of course, if you want to get fancy, you can, and I’ve included some options from Amazon just in case that’s the route you want to go.

Read a Psalm of Thanksgiving or Other Praise Filled Scripture Each Night as a Family

I don’t think there is any time when being intentional about reading the Bible together as a family is more important than during times of deep heartache. Scripture is like a soothing balm on our broken, hurting hearts.

The month of November gives us the wonderful excuse to make those times in the Word completely focused on passages that cultivate a sense of gratitude.

Need a good place to start? Here are 20 Psalms of thanksgiving and praise to help you get moving. Also, Hope for Today (click to read) has a different passage all about being thankful every day in November! You could just read that together as a family each night if you wanted!

Color These Thanksgiving Bible Verse Coloring Pages with Young Kids on Thanksgiving Day.

We made a couple thanksgiving Bible verse coloring pages for you! They’re totally free. Just click on the image below that you want to print off!

Let us come to Him with THANKSGIVING. Let us sing psalms of praise to Him. coloring page
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His faithful love endures forever. Coloring page

Make a Special Memories and Gratitude Journal

Memories are hard when your heart is broken! I had the hardest time trying to process my good memories after discovering my husband’s infidelities because I couldn’t figure out how to fit the ugliness of his sin together with the good times. But, learning to process and re-acclimate our good memories to our new reality is an important part of the grieving process.

Go all in and embrace the process by making a new Thanksgiving family tradition of putting together a special memories and gratitude journal together. All you need is a pretty binder, some blank paper, and your family’s creativity!

Here are some fun supplies to get you started.

Cook Together with Family Recipes

When we’re hurting, the temptation is to isolate. But if life has gotten hard, chances are pretty good the whole family is feeling the weight of it, and isolating is only going to make it worse!

We need each other in these times more than ever. Our kids need us to stay present and engaged, even when we feel like we’re dead on our feet.

The only way we’re going to be successful at this, though, is if we’re intentional about it.

So why not start a new Thanksgiving family tradition of digging out old family recipes and experimenting through the whole month of November by cooking these dishes together in order to narrow down the Thanksgiving day menu?

You’ll have fun doing it, and you might just find some amazing new recipes too!

Thanksgiving Family Traditions to Help you Give Back

Another great way to get our focus off our own pain is to practice generosity. As we search out people who need a little help and then dig deep to meet those needs, we’ll often find a new perspective on our own struggles as well! Here are a few Thanksgiving family traditions that focus on giving.

  • Serve together at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen
  • Find a local food pantry and find out what they need done. There are often holiday gift boxes that need to be delivered, or other special needs that come up at this time of year.
  • Take up a family “offering” and encourage every member of the family to give a little. Then decide together who you can bless anonymously with the money.
  • Do yard work (rake leaves, pick up fallen limbs, etc) together as a family for someone you know who could really use the help.
  • Make pies, or cookies together and deliver them to someone you know is lonely this time of year. Maybe even invite them to spend Thanksgiving day with your family!

Thanksgiving Pinata

Having a rough year? Why not join together as a family and beat a pinata? What better way to release some aggression AND have fun as a family?

Amp up the fun with this new Thanksgiving family tradition by making the pinatas yourselves! The more you make, the more fun you get to have bashing them! Here’s a WikiHow tutorial on how to make your own pinatas. Or, here are a few options if you want to just buy one.

Display the Unbroken Wishbone, and Pray Together

We’ve all heard of the Thanksgiving family tradition of breaking the wishbone right? Well, this year there is probably only one thing you all want! When life hurts, we all just want restoration. We want our families to be happy and healthy and whole.

But no amount of wishing is going to make that happen.

Prayer, on the other hand, is VERY powerful!

Instead of breaking the wishbone this year, offer the whole thing back to God as a symbol of your family’s trust in HIM alone to mend what has been broken. Pray together as a family that God will heal and restore. Then put that wishbone somewhere you will all see it until next Thanksgiving. Use it as a daily reminder to continue to pray, and to continue to trust God for your healing!


*How about you? Tell us about your favorite Thanksgiving family traditions in the comments below.


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***Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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14 Comments

    • Cherith Peters

      Thanks Fleda! Yeah, I heard about the Thanksgiving tree idea several years ago and loved it. Only, when I heard the idea it was just placing the “what I’m thankful for” cards on it. I love to also include cards with verses of thanksgiving and praise, because I just think it helps keep us very centered and focused on Scripture, which is so important!

  1. Stacey

    These are all great ideas! we used to do a pinata at Christmas. Thanksgiving is also my favorite holiday! I really like the idea of a thankfulness tree…or even a jar. We all put what we ate thankful for in a jar each day in November then read them on Thanksgiving day!

  2. DONNA MILLER

    I love this post Cherith! These are all such great tips and I absolutely LOVE the Thankfulness Tree. You are so right that when things are going wrong, the whole family feels it and isolation would make it worse. Thanks for this encouraging post! ❤

    • Cherith Peters

      Thanks Donna! When we were going through our year from hell, Steve and I were VERY intentional about making family time a priority. It was the exact opposite of what we wanted to do. We wanted to crawl into a hole and die… but the kids needed us more than ever, and in hindsight, we needed them more than ever too!

  3. Tiffany Montgomery

    Okay this is totally cool. We love finding ways to grow as a family but thanksgiving family traditions and ideas for hard times is a great idea! And the coloring pages made my heart smile. My kids will love these!

  4. Angie Cleary

    These are all amazing ideas for Thanksgiving family traditions. I too have never heard of a Thanksgiving Tree! I agree with Donna, when things are going wrong the whole family feels it and isolation would make it worse. Very encouraging read and geat suggestions on things to purchase

  5. AnnMarie

    These are great suggestions, but my favorite is the wishbone. We are slogging through a family estrangement for the 3rd straight year, and it hurts. I love the visual of praying for a reconciliation each time I see it.

    • Cherith Peters

      Oh, I’m so glad you liked that one AnnMarie! It was my favorite idea on the list. Anything that re-directs my heart to remember that true healing comes only through Christ is something I am going to LOVE!

  6. Pingback:Give Thanks and Make a Thankful Tree for Thanksgiving - Women Ministering

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