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Do You Treat Thanksgiving Like a Drive-By Holiday?

It may be time to begin some new holiday traditions so that your family can learn the importance of giving thanks.

Do you celebrate Thanksgiving ... or Turkey Day? Sometimes it feels like Thanksgiving is a drive-by holiday—Christmas starts to fill the stores by September, and Halloween candy seems to mesmerize the minds of our children. The significance of Thanksgiving is often lost in the flurry of family, food, and football.

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  The significance of Thanksgiving is often lost in the flurry of family, food, and football.

It may be time to begin some new holiday traditions so that your family can learn the meaning of a most important activity—giving thanks. Here are some ideas submitted by FamilyLife staff members for honoring God in your Thanksgiving festivities.

1. Feathers of thanks. This idea is popular with small children. Using colored construction paper, create a paper turkey to place on the wall. Then cut out several feathers for the turkey. Give a feather to each person in your family, and have them either write or draw something they thank God for. When they are finished, have them tape the feathers to the turkey.

2. Thanksgiving notebook. Purchase or create a nice notebook or journal before Thanksgiving. Over dinner, as each person tells about something they are thankful to God for, have a family member write these down in your notebook. Then, next year, do the same. As time goes by, the notebook will become a precious record of God's provision to your family over the years.

3. Thanksgiving placemats. A similar tradition comes from a missionary family. FamilyLife staff member Jennifer Loftin spent two years in Japan, and each of those years, she celebrated Thanksgiving with a couple who opened their home to Americans who were living in Japan. The couple would prepare a mat with a cutout for a picture, and each person at the dinner would write what they were thankful for that year. The hostess would laminate it, and the next year it would be part of the collection of placemats used to set the table. As they ate, guests could read what others had been thankful for in years past.

4. Passing on special memories. Thanksgiving is a good time to remember what God has provided for you in the past. Before the day comes, spend some time with your spouse writing down special memories. How did God bring you together? What are some special ways He has provided funds for your needs? How has He brought you through times of suffering? These would be great stories to pass on to your children as a legacy of God's faithfulness.

5. Blessings jar. Ricky and Ginger Roberts created a decorative jar that sits in their home, so the members of the family can fill it with notes and reminders of blessings all throughout the year. This way, nothing is forgotten. On Thanksgiving, Rick and Ginger pour out the notes and read them out loud as a family.

6. Lepines' hard tack and manna. Bob Lepine (co-host of FamilyLife Today®) and his family followed a tradition of eating "hard tack" during their Thanksgiving meal. An unleavened bread which will last for months without spoiling, hard tack was used during the time of the Pilgrims on voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. As they would eat the bread, Bob would remind his family of the hardships the Pilgrims endured to come to this country. He would ask, "Who else can you think of that needed bread to sustain them on a long trip?" The answer: the Israelites, who ate the daily manna which God provided after He brought them out of Egypt. This provided the family with an opportunity to remember how God sustains them and provides for all their needs.

Hard Tack recipe

1/8 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup flour
4 teaspoons real maple syrup
¼ and 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoon shortening

Mix baking soda and buttermilk, then set aside. Mix flour, maple syrup, 3/8 teaspoon salt, then cut in the shortening. Add the baking soda/buttermilk mixture. Roll out very thin, then score rectangles in the dough without cutting all the way through. Prick each rectangle several times with a fork. Bake 5-10 minutes or until golden brown at 425 degrees.

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