When I was growing up, our tradition to show our gratitude on Thanksgiving consisted of going around the table and everyone taking a couple minutes to share what they were grateful for. While this was nice, it was also boring as a child, and a bit intimidating as a teen and young adult. I mean, it felt like we had to say something deep…insightful…moving. Sometimes I just didn’t feel like it, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t grateful. It just meant I didn’t have the perfect thing to say.
Now that I am raising a young family, I want my kids to express their gratitude, but I don’t think going around the table and each person taking a turn is the way to do it.
Last year, we tried a few different games, which were fun, but didn’t go over very well. We had several adults, so we did a trivia game, but it was WAY too long. I also baked little papers (wrapped in tin foil) into the rolls so whenever someone would get a roll, they could answer the question. The questions were like “Tell us 3 things you are grateful for about the person to your left” or “Tell us 3 things about your dad you are grateful for” or “Share a trial from the last year that you are grateful for.” Nice idea, but when all the eating was happening, it was hard to stop constantly and listen to what people had to say, or those who didn’t want to participate simply didn’t. Boring.
My cousin suggested getting a notebook and putting each letter of the alphabet at the top of the page and writing as many things as you can think of for each letter. I like that idea. Plus, she then pulls out that notebook each year and the kids love to read (and add to) what they wrote.
This year, I decided to come up with a few games. We’ll have 10 children between 16 months and almost 14 years, so I know they’ll want a chance to earn points. We’ll also have 6 adults, so I wanted games the adults would also like to join in on. Here’s what I came up with:
I made a sheet with lines from A to Z. When the timer starts, everyone tries to write one thing for each letter that they are grateful for. Apples, babies, cars, daddy, ears, fingers, grandma, hair, ice cream, jam, etc. Answers that aren’t truly something to be grateful for (diarrhea, murder, poison, hangnails, etc.) can be vetoed by the group. We’re trying to list what we’re grateful for, not just come up with unique items that won’t be on anyone else’s list. Then, when the timer rings, everyone stops and the first person reads their list. Anything that is doubled up on someone else’s list gets crossed off by both players. Each item that was unique (meaning no one else put it down) receives one point.
I put together about 48 words or something that are Thanksgiving themed, and then scrambled them. Players try to figure out what the real words are. Maybe give 5 minutes or don’t time it at all. Each player gets one point for each word they got right. So Banana Cream Pie would get 3 points because it is 3 words.
I came up with 16 “Topics” for gratitude, like things you own that you are grateful for or reasons why you love the winter. Draw a card and read the topic. Then, you set the timer for 30 seconds or a minute if you have younger ones, and everyone feverishly tries to write as many things as come to mind for that topic. Answers should be generic, without many words. So if the topic was “Things you own that you are grateful for” putting down “blanket, camera, computer, piano” etc. would be much better than “purple quilt made by grandma, Nikon 360 camera, my desktop dell 1000 computer, the piano I bought at goodwill for $35”.
The reason for this is that in the next stage of the game, someone starts reading thru their list, like Scattergories. Unlike Scattergories, however, instead of crossing out matches, players circle the answers they put down that are the SAME as other peoples. So the point is the MATCH, not be unique. And the words are supposed to match exactly. However, blankie, blankets, and blanket would all suffice for the same. Blanket and quilt, though, would not. Get it?
Players get one point for every MATCH they make. After that round, you draw another card and play again. Add up total points at the end.
My thought is that whoever gets the most points gets to do something special, like choose the first board game after dinner, or get served pie first, or gets to go in line for dinner first, depending on when you play these games. We’re probably going to play them in between “courses”. We’ll start with fruit, salad, and rolls. Then we’ll do turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, corn/peas, cranberry sauce. And the last course is pie. In between each course we can play a game. Or we can do it beforehand. I haven’t quite decided.
Do you have favorite Thanksgiving gratitude traditions?