Once we’re past Halloween, the downhill roll of the holidays begins with Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and before you know it, it’s New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day! So many traditions, special menus, fun activities, and memories wrapped up with each of those days. Since Turkey Day is right around the corner, let’s celebrate Thanksgiving by reminiscing a little and considering some new Happy Thanksgiving activities for you to try. There are activities for couples, kids, and grandkids, and several that focus on the ‘giving’ in Thanksgiving.
What do your memories look and smell like? Were there backyard football games or just tons of games on TV? Maybe you enjoyed board or card games with the cousins.
Happy Thanksgiving Memories
Oh, those Thanksgiving memories! Can you remember the smells? I can! First thing would be the onion and celery sauteing in butter bright and early that morning. The next step would be Mom mixing the bread stuffing with all the herbs and seasonings plus adding the sauteed veggies. And, since this was back when we weren’t worried about stuffing the bird, Mom would complete that task by trussing it with white string, setting it in the big black roaster pan, covering it with tin foil (for a while) and sliding it into the oven.
Whoever was joining us that year would start arriving and bring their contribution to the dinner. There’d be potato chips and nuts to munch on while we ran around playing, the moms would be putting on the finishing touches on the meal, and the dads would be in the living room loudly watched the football games. In our house the game was either at half-time or over before we sat down to eat!
When it was the right time, the Thanksgiving table would host the gorgeous golden turkey, a massive bowl of mashed potatoes, lots of turkey pan gravy, and of course, a bowl of whole cranberries right out of the can. We’d have a big green salad, boiled asparagus, and a fluffy fruit salad. There would be warmed-up rolls from that red and white package, the green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes (or yams) with lots of butter and brown sugar. But the dessert would be served later in the day, and you’d have a choice of pumpkin, apple, or maybe mincemeat pie with tall peaks of whipped cream. (I’m getting full reading about all of this!)
Before we dove in to the feast, we’d go around the table and share what we were grateful for and then thank the Lord for our many blessings. As was one of our family traditions, that prayer would end with:
7 Thanksgiving Activities for New Memories
- Enjoy your dinner from/in a restaurant or from a grocery store. Cracker Barrel will prepare the Heat n’ Serve Holiday Family Meal To-Go, a complete Thanksgiving meal that serves ten people and can be prepared in two hours or less. Or the Homestyle Turkey n’ Dressing Meal, which can be enjoyed by guests in-store on Thanksgiving Day. Check your local family restaurant to see what’s available in your area. A few familiar names include Applebee’s, Golden Corral, Buffalo Wild Wings, and even Subway (I bet they’ve got great turkey sandwiches!) The links share locations. Central Market in Poulsbo has a dinner for 6-8, complete with leftovers! H.E.B. in Texas has meals for 4 or 8 that can be picked up at the Deli Counter. Check larger grocery stores near you (those with a deli or kitchen) to see if you can still grab a prepared meal.
- Live on the wild side and go for Italian, Chinese, or Mexican! Sometimes it’s fun and even mentally healthy to break with tradition and start your own. You never know; you might decide that pizza is a meal you can thankfully enjoy with family, friends, or just yourself! We have family members who have fish and the trimmings for Thanksgiving. It’s a whatever sounds good to ‘you and yours’ kind of day. Call a friend to join you if you’re alone for the day. Take photos and share your unique Thanksgiving dinner on Facebook. 😊
- Volunteer to bring a Happy Thanksgiving meal to people who wouldn’t have had a chance to enjoy one this year. Check out your local homeless shelter or Salvation Army, or your church to see where serving opportunities might exist. You could also give money or food to an organization supporting needy families. You might know of a family in your neighborhood who would love a big bowl of your favorite turkey day recipe! Consider hosting a food drive and donating to your local food bank. Check out this post for pantry organization and purging suggestions. Donate your extras (if the dates are still good, of course!) Or, invite someone you know who might be alone Thanksgiving to join you for some turkey. What wonderful holiday activities and memories these would be!
- Participate in an event to create Thanksgiving memories. Check around; there are holiday craft fairs, turkey trots, parades, and football games. The Homestead Fair is an annual event near us in Waco with activities and gifts you’d find at a working homestead farm. Check Facebook Events for something to help you celebrate Thanksgiving Day in a new way in your local area.
- Do a few new Thanksgiving theme activities for kids, grandkids, or neighbors. Here are some fun ones: Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids from the Pioneer Woman. Plus, here’s a post about fun ways to grow friendships/relationships anytime. Also, this is a great day to get a big start (or finish) to your Christmas shopping lists. See this Christmas post for more ideas and some free forms to help and for fun.
- Go see a movie out for the holidays. Check your local theatre listings. There are usually great family titles that inspire the holiday spirit. This year (2022), a few titles that might interest you are: The Fabelmans (PG-13), Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PG), Strange World (PG), and Enola Holmes 2 (PG-13). Another suggestion would be to make some after-dinner hot chocolate and popcorn and track down a favorite movie on Netflix. If it’s within your traditions to kick off Christmas after the turkey, Elf, White Christmas, or The Christmas Story might appear on your screen. That is, if there’s not a hugely important football game on!
- Spend some time outside. Get some fresh air and enjoy the beauty of nature. Drive by an area with colorful leaves and walk through the fallen ones. Take a quick hike on your favorite trail or just walk around the neighborhood. Stop by and say ‘hi’ to friends and ask them to join you. You could also gather family and friends for a touch football game, corn hole, or a wild game of croquet.
Let’s Wrap This Up
The holidays can bring back wonderful memories of the good ol’ days but they can also hold some that aren’t so great. One of those not so great Thanksgiving memories happened a long time ago for our family. It made for an extremely challenging, close-to-heart-breaking Thanksgiving as our young family separated on the way to divorce. The Lord brought good as He always does and eventual reconciliation. But that memory took a long time to get beyond. It’s one of those that needed to be viewed through trusting, thankful eyes.
At the time, the Psalms (and other parts of the Word) were the rock we held onto and still go back to when life gets bumpy. There’s just something about the hope found in Psalm 27:13-14. I love these words. They’re my Thanksgiving gift to you in case life is bumpy for you right now or if and when it is in the future.
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14
By the time you read this, the turkey is probably thawing in the fridge, and the pies might already be baked. Or, you might be waiting to get the salad ready Thursday morning to take over to ‘their’ house as your part of the dinner. You might be looking forward to a delicious restaurant dinner with all the fixins (that you don’t have to cook!) Or, you might be doing one of the other things to try from the list above. However you celebrate,
I pray that you’ll get a chance to thank those important to you for them. I pray, too, that you’ll know how much you’re appreciated. I’m thankful for you! And I’m thankful you’ve read this little post. 💕
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Finding a new purpose in living and joy in the day-to-day was the goal when author Kathy Rowland and her entire family (adult kids and grandkids) moved from the PNW to Texas several years ago. The focus of Quiet Hollow is to encourage ‘next chapter women’ – those who are retired, empty-nesters, or have found themselves without a spouse to jump back into life. And, she shares multiple tips, ideas, and possibilities toward that end. Kathy completed her almost 30 years as an elementary teacher and hopped into over a decade of volunteer work, side hustle-type businesses, and grandchild care before discovering her unique and fulfilling purpose for the next chapter of life. What you read on Quiet Hollow is a large part of that calling. Another part is the happy life she’s leading in Central Texas in the same neighborhood as the 3 big kids and her 5 grandkids. She and her college sweetheart husband made sure to add a pool to their new Texas home, so there are lots of noisy, splashy days in their little oasis of a backyard. Come join her on Quiet Hollow in a conversation about finding and living the life you were created to live in this later stage. The chats will be full of laughter, support, faith, and inspiration to create.