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Make This Thanksgiving Meaningful for Your Family

A time honored tradition

Families who observe Thanksgiving do so in many different ways. For some, this is a time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. For others, it is a time for relatives to come together and catch up with one another. No matter how you choose to observe the holiday, there are many ways in which you and your child can connect with your community and form your own traditions to make the holiday meaningful for your family.

Things to do on Thanksgiving

The importance of family traditions. Traditions play an important role in families. Everyone in your family is busy, and traditions are a great way for people to stop what they are doing and focus on family time. Traditions can be big, elaborate activities that take place once a year or they can be as simple as having dinner as a family once a week, and they can celebrate anything from special days to special people. If you don’t already have one, start a family tradition that everyone can plan and look forward to. While Thanksgiving might be a holiday that is unfamiliar to some who are not from the U.S., it is a unique holiday that you can observe in whatever small or big way you like. One idea is to incorporate foods from your country of origin into a Thanksgiving menu.

Tired from turkey? If you eat turkey on Thanksgiving, you have probably heard that it will make you sleepy. Actually, it’s not entirely the turkey’s fault. Although turkey does have a lot of something called Tryptophan that calms us down and helps us sleep, it only makes us tired right away if consumed by itself, and we rarely eat only large amounts of turkey! However, whether or not you eat a lot of turkey on Thanksgiving, you can still get tired. Eating a meal with lots of carbohydrates (like bread, potatoes, and desserts) makes us sleepy, and when we eat a lot, like on Thanksgiving, there is increased blood flow to the stomach and less to the brain. There are many ways you and your family can wake yourselves up on Thanksgiving. Make sure not to save your appetite for a big meal, but eat small meals and snacks beforehand. This will also help you eat a smaller portion at mealtime. Go for a walk after eating, and enjoy the fall colors, or maybe even snow!

The history behind the holiday. There is a story behind our celebrating Thanksgiving that your child has probably learned in school. You can go to the library and get books on Thanksgiving to read with your child. Sometime around the holiday, you can also plan some activities to do with your child that are related to U.S. history, such as visiting Old Sturbridge Village or Plymouth Plantation , or walking the Freedom Trail .

Fun festivities. Believe it or not, everything does not shut down on a major holiday like this one. There are plenty of things you and your child can enjoy. A fun favorite is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that comes on television. Your town may even have a real live parade. If your child enjoys sports, many towns have a Thanksgiving Day football game. If you want to do something athletic to justify the big meal, many towns have road races or run/walks in honor of Thanksgiving. They are mostly in the morning and range from two to ten miles. It might even be fun to watch if you are not able to participate. Click here to find an event near you.

Teach your child to give. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, you can teach your child that there are families who need help celebrating the holiday, and giving a little bit of time or sharing a little of what you have with them can go a long way. You can even make giving a family tradition! Your family can help serve a meal, distribute food to families, or donate food to food pantries to distribute:

  • The Salvation Army has a massive Thanksgiving assistance program, operating in all of their 32 locations, which provides food to families to cook for the holiday. Call (617) 542-5420 for more information.
  • The Greater Boston Food Bank is a network of 700-800 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters in eastern Massachusetts. To find out about volunteer opportunities around Thanksgiving, call (617) 427-5200.
  • The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts supports 420 programs, including soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and other services in western Massachusetts. Learn about getting involved by calling (413) 247 -9738.

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