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Give Thanks this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks to those people we treasure in our lives and those things we have been blessed with over the past year. A nice tradition to start is having everyone present at your Thanksgiving gathering go around the room and tell what they are thankful for in their lives. In addition to what they are thankful for, you can add on the tradition of also saying something nice about each person in the room.

Another great family tradition is to have a white linen tablecloth on a different table than the one used for serving food,- so that it does not become stained. Before or after the meal, hand out a black permanent marker to each person and ask them to write something on the cloth, sign their name, and date it. You can then use the same cloth each year and have people continuing to add their information on it, or you can use a different cloth each year, maybe a smaller one, and have someone in the family turn them into stitchery or even a quilt.

In addition to the above idea, you can have a journal book where everyone takes time out of their day to write in it what they are thankful for and a bit about the current life of their family. You can then look back over this journal as the years pass and reminisce about old times.

If your guests tend to stuff themselves at the Thanksgiving meal, and who doesn’t, then you might want to start a tradition of playing a game of football after the meal, or simply taking a long family walk. If you live near a wooded area, you can even ask people to collect pinecones to help decorate your home, and theirs, for the upcoming Christmas holiday season.

As people get older, they generally focus more on service work and trying to spend time with other people. If your family is small you can all go to a local church or soup kitchen and help cook and serve the Thanksgiving meal to people in your community who are less fortunate than yourselves.

If your family isn’t the touchy-feely sort, spending time together watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on television, or even football, can be a fun way to spend the afternoon waiting for the turkey to finish cooking.

If you have someone in your family who likes to take pictures, the Thanksgiving Day event can be a good time to get a yearly photo of the whole family. While the camera shy people will balk the first year, in the years that continue to follow they will participate willingly.

Another fun family tradition for Thanksgiving is the breaking of the wishbone from the turkey and making a wish. This can be done by children, or you can have a contest to see who gets to break the wishbone. If your family is big into the Black Friday sales events in the Thanksgiving Day paper and sharing the best buys they find.

The traditions that go along with Thanksgiving and giving thanks do not solve the dilemma that many face, - Thanksgiving is celebrated in their homes. That dilemma would be what to prepare for the big meal. There are plenty of options and as hostess and chef extraordinaire it is entirely up to you what the menu will be. The best piece of advice that can be given, however, is the less food left to prepare on Thanksgiving day the less food that has the opportunity for something to go wrong in the preparation process.

Here are a few great menu ideas, tips, and tricks that should help make your Thanksgiving Dinner preparations go a little more smoothly.

First of all, plan and make sure you have all the ingredients you need and any special menu items that may be required well ahead of time but in a manner that allows for maximum freshness. If you must wait until the day before to get some of your shopping done, then do so as early in the day as possible. Otherwise make a point of getting all the non-perishable ingredients that are necessary a week or so ahead of time. Also if you are going to order a smoked turkey or something along those lines do so far enough in advance that you do not doubt especially consuming more at all that your order will be filled on time.

Second, if you can afford to have something ordered and prepared offsite and it doesn't hurt your sense of pride do so. You do not have to have everything catered but having a few items catered will leave your day much less stressed making the risk of something going wrong a little lower than if you were cramming everything into one morning and doing it all yourself. Bread from the bakery smoked ham or turkey, and certain favorite side dishes that are complicated and time consuming as well as some pies are a great buy and save a lot of time that would be better spent enjoying the day.

Third, recruit help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with grabbing a passing child or adult and asking for a little help with the chopping, washing, or mixing that must take place for the dinner to go off without a hitch. The thing is that while people often don't mind helping they are afraid to offer for fear of seeming to imply that you aren't doing well enough on your own. For this reason, there is no harm in recruiting help, especially among friends and family.

Finally, keep the animals outside or locked away from the festivity time-, importantly, the food. Animals are great friends to have but most of your guests do not appreciate them in the kitchen or at the table. You do not want Fluffy or Fido to run off the food you've worked hard to prepare (or purchase whichever the case may be) so remove them from a situation that it might prove tempting.

The most important thing about your Thanksgiving dinner is that you are not so stressed from the preparation that you do not have the time or peace of mind to enjoy it. No matter what traditions you have, or even what traditions you choose to start in the future, the important thing to remember is that Thanksgiving is about friends and family coming together and giving thanks for all of the blessings in your life. It is a day to stop and give thanks for our lives and those special people who are in our lives with us every day.

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