Our Thanksgiving Book

Younger children can draw in the book instead of writing

[Another of my "Family Adventures" columns that I thought you might enjoy.  There's still time to go find a blank notebook this weekend!]

Thanksgiving is always a traveling holiday for our family.  Sweet Husband works in retail so it's usually his only chance to slip away before the holiday rush.  Plus, there's just something nice about heading home for a few days and letting our parents feed us.  We tend towards celebrating Christmas with our own little family of three, but Thanksgiving is a feast of all.

The only thing I don't love about going “home” for Thanksgiving is that it makes it hard to have traditions of our own.  While being a perpetual guest is wonderful, it's never felt right to me to insist on certain rituals when I'm not the one putting on the show.

Except that we do have one tradition that travels with us each year―our Thanksgiving Book.

I started it the year Sweet Husband and I were married.  Covered in autumn-y orange, our Thanksgiving Book began life as a blank journal.  I think Sweet Husband picked it out at Borders, but Hobbs, 700 Mass St., and The Raven, 8 E. 7th St., both have similar blank notebooks.

Each year, wherever we go for Thanksgiving and whomever we're with, everyone gets asked to write one thing they're thankful for in our Thanksgiving Book.  

The responses have been quite fun.  

The first year, my aunt wrote that she was thankful she was not a turkey.  For several years running, my father-in-law―who likes to get my goat―has professed that he is thankful for “air”.  Several family members have been happy about various sports team victories.  And the year we took the book to an after-dinner meet-up with high school friends, practically everyone was thankful for beer.

We always get more touching entries too.  My quiet uncle's short, sweet gratitude for his children and grandchildren always warms my heart, as do the hand-turkeys my little niece would draw before she learned to write.  And I don't even need to read the words written by my grandmother―her perfect cursive penmanship evokes memories all on its own.  

The first few years were a little forced, but now the tradition has begun to carry itself.  When I accidentally left the book in our car last year, my little sister protested, “Aren't we going to write in your book this year?”  Once the book was retrieved, she plunked down in the middle of an armchair and read funny entries from previous years aloud.

While, of course, we don't force anyone to write in our Thanksgiving Book, I've found that the best way to get adults to join in is to give the task of asking to a child.  People are much less likely to refuse when a cute, small person is wanting them to do something, plus it gives the kids a productive activity 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 our family for many years to come.