Last year my family started the tradition of having a Thanksgiving Tree. Every time a holiday rolls around I have a hard time dealing with the commercialization and trivialization of the event. I guess I just feel that if we are going to say that we are celebrating Thanksgiving (for example) that we should actively practice being thankful. Likewise, if we say that we are celebrating Christmas, we should actually celebrate Christ and not just worship material goods. I really don't desire to swim against the current in these matters, but I do try to redeem as much real purpose out of the holidays as I can and am always looking for new/better ways to do so!
This Thanksgiving Tree is one way that we practice actively being thankful during November. What I did was cut out a bare tree from a thick piece of poster board and covered it with paper grocery bags (it needed a little mending this year from being in storage all year =). Then I cut out enough leaves to account for each day starting with Reformation Day, going through to Thanksgiving Day. On each leaf I wrote one thing that we can be thankful. I tried to pick things and people that Trevor might be thankful for. Last year we focused on family members and his little 'friends.' This year we are doing family members again and then this time neighbors. We start on Reformation Day by being thankful for the Bible, and end on Thanksgiving Day by being thankful for Jesus (makes a nice transition to Advent).
Each day before dinner a leaf 'falls' off of the tree. We talk about why we are thankful for that person or thing. Then we pray and thank God for it (and if it's a person, we pray for them too!) Lastly, if it is a person we write them a little letter saying that we are thankful for them and why.
Last year I just wrote out the letter, but this year I included some copywork on it so that Trevor could be more involved and practice his writing too! If you would like to do this with your child, feel free to download this copywork for your own personal use.
I cut out my leaves by hand, but you could use a die-cut machine, a fancy Cricut, or just a simple leaf punch. If you want to be cool like me ;) you can download my template, print it onto cardstock, and cut until your little heart is content!
This is just how we do our tree. I have heard of other variations, so be as creative as you would like! My friend Stephanie (who laughs at me for cutting out my own leaves) and her family add a leaf each day so that they end up with a tree full of thanksgiving! I think that's a great idea. If your child(ren) are handy with scissors, you could let them cut the leaves out and any age child could decorate/color the leaves and now you've got a great Art project! Do any of you do a Thanksgiving Tree? How do you do it? Any other ideas of how to be purposeful about this Thanksgiving season?