Thanksgiving Traditions

When I was a child, everything seemed bigger and more special at Thanksgiving.


Our family celebrated Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents’ home in Los Angeles. I remember them having the biggest dinner table in the world, with a beautiful tablecloth and lots of extra silverware. There were relatives who smelled nice, especially Great Aunt Grace, and cousins we rarely saw during the year.

Looking back, I am certain it was my Grandparents’ regular dining table; but, it seemed huge because of all the food displayed at once. The ‘extra silverware’ I remembered was probably an extra salad fork and dessert spoon that were not on the table during the rest of the year.

Specific memories of those childhood days included our brother being dressed up and extra polite to my sister and me. Grandma baked for three days before the occasion. Their house smelled wonderful in every room. Grandma put Bible verse cards at everyone’s place setting. We had to read them, before we ate the meal, immediately after Grandpa said the blessing.

Waiting for all the guests to read their verses felt like cruel and unusual punishment for a young child; but, Grandma explained they were thanksgiving verses and needed to be read first. It was important we understood ‘thankfulness’ was to be remembered throughout the meal.

By the time I was pre-teen, the baton was passed to our parents and Thanksgiving dinner had moved to our home. There were fewer relatives and less silverware; but, reading the Thanksgiving Bible verses remained part of the ritual before eating dinner.

Today, we host Thanksgiving dinner for our immediate 18 member family in our home. I love setting my table with Fall decorations and including extra silverware (wondering what our young grandchildren will remember) and, naturally, the Thanksgiving scripture verses at each place setting.

We read the verses DURING dinner, so we can linger over their meaning and no one complains about the food getting cold while all 18 verses are read!

We also have a Thanksgiving Tree. Yes, I set up our 6ft Christmas tree, after Halloween, and adorn it with Fall decorations and foliage galore. Each week, before Thanksgiving – when the grandkids come by – I have them make decorations for the Thanksgiving Tree. By the time Thanksgiving arrives, the beautifully lit and decorated tree makes the perfect backdrop for Thanksgiving dinner!

A few more traditions have been added to our Thanksgiving Day since grandchildren have been added. After dinner, all ten grandkids exit to the garage and begin their building of gingerbread houses.

It is quite an ordeal, they build graham cracker houses (easier than actual gingerbread pieces) on large cardboard bases. The houses, and their lavish yards, over the years, are getting more and more elaborate. They are covered with everything from marshmallows to red hots, peppermint candy, colored sparkles, raisins, frosting, chocolate kisses, gummy bears, silver balls, gumdrops, food coloring and much, much more than I can list here!

It takes nearly two hours to complete their gingerbread mansions. Then, the adults are to vote on the favorite for the year. Surprisingly, all the grandkids are cheering each other on and are equally happy for whichever one wins for the year,

Building gingerbread houses kicks off the Christmas season. The architects proudly leave them on display for visitors to our home over the next four weeks.

They are edible. But, alas, no one ever eats them. When Christmas day arrives, it is time to trash the dried out gingerbread houses and open Christmas presents under the tree!

We love our Thanksgiving traditions. I often wonder which of our traditions will be continued. I’m praying our grandkids continue reading verses from the Bible, on Thanksgiving, long after we are gone!

“Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can’t quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you!” Colossians 1:3 (The Message)


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