For the most part, I love it — but it does sometimes make it hard to create Thanksgiving traditions of our own. While being a perpetual guest is wonderful, it has never felt right to me to insist on certain rituals when I'm not the one putting on the show.
But we do have one tradition — one that travels with us each year: our Thanksgiving Book.
I started it the year my husband and I were married, and each year — wherever we go, whomever we're with — everyone gets asked to write a quick note about what they're thankful for.
When we started, many of the responses were kind of funny. The first year, my aunt wrote that she was thankful that she was not a turkey, and for several years running, my father-in-law — who likes to get my goat ― professed that he was thankful for “air.”
But as the years have passed, some of the entries have grown very dear, as well.
My quiet uncle's short, sweet gratitudes for his children and grandchildren (repeated every year, but always deeply felt) warm my heart, as do the hand-turkeys the kiddos in the family would all draw before they learned to write. And I don't even need to really read the words written by my grandmother (whom we lost earlier this year) — her perfect cursive penmanship evokes sweet memories all on its own.
While I'm not a big scrapbooking person, our Thanksgiving Book has become the best sort of one — a quick, easy-to-keep-up glimpse of our blessings from year to year. If you want to start your own Thanksgiving Book tradition, here's how.
Family Thanksgiving Book
One carefully selected notebook
Since it's just a few days before Thanksgiving and I know we're all probably busy, this craft is super easy: go buy a notebook and take it to your Thanksgiving celebration.
That being said, I wish I had paid more attention to the book that I initially chose. Once you start you won't want to change books, so learn from my mistake and begin with a good quality notebook. If I were starting over, I would get one of the larger (at least 8 x 5 inches) Moleskine “Art Plus” sketchbooks. They have about 100 pages, which should be plenty to last a few decades for all but the largest families. The paper is a bit heavier in that particular sketchbook, so it will stand up to the inevitable scraps of ephemera or painted hand turkeys (we're big fans of those) that you may want to tape or glue into your book.
Once you have your book, all that remains is to grab a pen and ask your family and friends to write in it. The first few years of our Thanksgiving book felt a little forced, but now the tradition has begun to carry itself.
Even the smallest child can participate by signing their name or tracing their hand, and most are enthusiastic to do so. For reluctant adults, I've found the best way to get them to join in is to give the task of soliciting thanksgiving entries to a child. People are much less likely to refuse when a small, cute person is asking them to write something, plus it gives the kids a productive activity to work on while dinner is cooking ― a double win!
Whether you're starting a new family this year ― or just grateful for the one you've got ― a Thanksgiving Book is a wonderful, portable tradition that I hope will continue in your family for many years to come.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.