7 Ways to Make Your Thanksgiving Special

Thanksgiving clearly struggles with the “middle child mentality” of being overlooked. Halloween merchandise hits the stores in August and Christmas merchandise hits the shelves in October. In recent years stores have been opening their doors for holiday shopping on Thanksgiving Day, barely giving time for families to sit and enjoy one another’s company. Why has this holiday been forsaken? The answer is simple. Society as a whole has allowed commercialism to invade our families, our traditions and our values. We have given permission to the powers that be to overlook the importance of Thanksgiving by jumping on the commercialism bandwagon.

Thanksgiving has its root in history but that is not what we talk about when we gather to share in a family meal on this day. The primary focus has always been to get families together, share a meal and to be thankful for all of our blessings. I share in Amy Grant’s perspective on Thanksgiving, “Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks and just giving”. I give thanks daily for all of life’s blessings not just on this one day a year. We all should. But this one day a year always served as a day when people slowed down; and in the craziness of the food, football and family they would give thanks. For some this may be the only day of the year they give thanks; for others it may have given them the opportunity to recommit their energies to giving thanks. I know that for some families this is the only time of year that their entire family can be together. Bypassing Thanksgiving because it is sandwiched between two holidays with more “buying appeal” is a disservice to families.

I challenge you to take Thanksgiving back this year. I want you to share Thanksgiving Day with your family being present in the time together and creating memories. You may want to introduce some traditions that have faded or introduce something in hopes it will become a new tradition for your family. Make this Thanksgiving your own – show up with the intention to “recommit your energies to giving thanks and just giving”.
Our Thanksgiving celebrations are rooted in family, traditions and fun. Every year we adjust to meet the needs of our family because let’s face it, getting families all together isn’t always easy. Our family deals with shift workers, years when family lived out of state, having to visit different places in the same day and general life happenings that can make arrangements a bit crazy. I know you can relate. Despite all of that it somehow comes together and is always a day we cherish and look forward to doing it all again next year.

To inspire you in your efforts to take Thanksgiving back, I want to share some of our family traditions and fun…

*We always set the table with fancy glasses…even for the kiddos. It makes the dinner and everyone at dinner feel a little more special. If you have fine china and crystal and want to use it, I think that is awesome. If you do not have no fear…hit up any dollar store for some fancy glasses that will keep you in budget but can be used for many years.

*Every year a member of the family cooks something new to bring to dinner. You cannot go wrong with trying new recipes and foods. Be prepared for some recipes to make a return and others that should never be spoken of again.

*We do a TURKEY TROT! After dinner and before dessert we head outside to take a walk around the neighborhood; or if you are at our house a walk around the barns! How long this takes us depends on the weather.

*We have a Giving Thanks table runner. We started this tradition about 15 years ago. It comes out every year and everyone that is at dinner signs the table runner with what they are thankful for that year. We use sharpie markers. Even the tiniest of attendees sign the runner – we have traced handprints, drawings and big letters! We love reading the table runner every year and remembering past years.

*We take a group photo where everyone is wearing a Pilgrim or Indian hat! This is my favorite tradition because even the person who is most resistant when we take the picture LOVES the picture when I send it out!!!

*We give thanks! During dinner we go around the table and talk about what we are thankful for; some keep it simple and some go more in depth. The most important thing is that everyone gives thanks at their comfort level.

*We spend some time outdoors. My family loves to take a walk in the woods or play a game of football (of course this is pending weather) before we meet up with the rest of the family for Thanksgiving Day fun.


Taralee is an educator, advocate, philanthropist and a published author. She has passionately contributed to the fields of special education and early childhood education since 1998, meeting her student’s and client’s needs in the home, school and community. She excels at recognizing each child’s unique gift and successfully ignites their love of learning through exploration, discovery and play. It is through this work that "Inspired Education" was born. As a philanthropist, Taralee served as the President and member of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Regional New Jersey Early Intervention Collaborative for 8 years.


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