Thanksgiving Preparations

I don’t know about you, but with Red’s annual Advent/Christmas post fresh in my mind, I’ve very much been thinking through what I need to do before Advent starts for our little family (thanks Red, very, very helpful as always!). But before we get there, we have wonderful Thanksgiving to prepare for and in my home this will mean family, dear friends, and two little Goddaughters coming our way for the holiday. While not a special season set apart like Advent or a holy day like Christmas from a Catholic perspective, I think it can be such a special time of grace for families. As I read once, what better way to close out the liturgical year than with a day centered around sincere thankfulness! Quite set apart from all of the usual food and logistical planning, I think that preparing/planning on opportunities to praise and reflect on the past year throughout Thanksgiving Day could be useful and important too so that they don’t get lost in the bustle of the day. Since I still feel newly married, we are building our traditions in real time and I’m curious how other Catholic families try to do this and infuse the day with our beautiful faith. A few things that I’ve come across that appeal to me are below — not that we are going to do them all, or that we have them implemented!

  • Pray a rosary together in the morning. Some already do this as a daily habit, but we don’t yet, and this seems like a beautiful way to start the day.
  • Attending mass. Even though it isn’t a holy day of obligation, in many ways Thanksgiving feels like a Catholic holiday to me. If we have a whole day for thankfulness, what better way to start it out than praying the ultimate prayer of the church through holy mass? My family attended mass on Thanksgiving growing up, and for the year or two that I have let food preparations get in the way, the day has always felt lessened somehow. Hoping to change that this year!
  • Have a special grace for the meal written out that you use each year.
  • As a part of the meal have everyone at the table say what they are most thankful to God for.
  • Try to do a longer special prayer time as a family either in the morning or evening to praise and thank God for all of the blessings he has given that year in particular.
  • Pia isn’t old enough for this yet, but for families with older children have each child write a special prayer out on construction paper.

How about your families? What traditions do you have on Thanksgiving to help remember the Giver of All Gifts? Help me prepare for next week!

  • Flowers

    Great ideas! We haven’t in the past, but are going to try to go to mass this year. We have a thanksgiving tablecloth that we bring out every year. It’s just a plain white tablecloth, but whoever happens to be celebrating with us that year writes something they are thankful for on the table cloth with a fabric marker. It’s fun to see what we wrote as kids on my mom’s tablecloth, and now that I have a family of my own, we are starting a new one.

    • Mary Alice

      Wow! I love that!

      We always do handprint turkeys, it is possibly my favorite tradition of the entire year. One year, I also made a big poster of a turkey and had the children write what they were thankful for on contruction paper feathers that they glued on the turkey.

      Mass is a good reason to do two smaller turkeys rather than one large one if you have a larger gathering. I think that my turkey this year, which is huge, is going to take 5 hours to cook, so I don’t think that I am going to be able to go to Mass. We do often go, though. I also really love doing a family run or bike ride if it is a sunny day.

  • Jennifer

    I like these ideas–especially having kids writing out special prayers! Last year I had a whole schedule written out for the day, like “10am: cut potatoes, 10:10am: peel carrots….” etc. and my husband snuck in and added mass and prayer to the schedule. :)

  • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com/ Kellie

    I like the idea of going to Mass on Thanksgiving. Seems the best way to say thanks to me. But it is hard to do if you are cooking or hosting. I do not host for Thanksgiving.

    Mr. Red usually reads a very nice special Thanksgiving prayer, and we have the kids share what they are thankful for on that day. We also read a lot of books about the first Thanksgiving and teach the kids about what the original day was really celebrating — God’s providence and peaceful relations between people with different cultures. There is a ton to be learned and appreciated just from doing a little history.

    Regarding food prep, I second MA’s suggestion to make your meal plan and make separate lists. Things that can be bought now, things that should be bought right before, and then a “to do” list for all tasks. Anything that can be done in advance should be done in advance, that makes for a happier hostess and a better day.

    I make a “non food” list for stuff like table supplies, or even scrubbing my bathroom. I find writing it all down helps me not to worry about forgetting something and generally lowers my stress level. I’m sure it will be a beautiful day for your family and a delicious meal.


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