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.
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.
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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!
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!
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.
***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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