I have a very vivid memory of Thanksgiving. Growing up in a town away from other relatives, we didn't really have much family who came to visit us on the holidays. We didn't travel either. My mother would start early, as she did every morning, getting the turkey ready to cook for the day. I can remember my sisters and me helping her break white bread into bits and pieces to prepare for the stuffing. It would sit out in big trays for at least a whole day, because according to her method the staler, the better. And I can still smell the creamed onions that would be simmering on the stove all day long (I still don't know who ate those!)
Since my family of five always stayed home, we started a lot of traditions. We always watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My mother used to say once we saw Santa Claus, Christmastime had begun. Every year after seeing him arrive on his sleigh in the parade, my sister and I would get the Sears catalog out and start our Christmas lists and letters to Santa.
I can also remember my sister and me putting on plays about the Pilgrims and the Indians. We would write scripts and make hats and costumes. One year we even made a Mayflower ship out of a refrigerator box. One of my more favorite memories is the year my sister and I put on a magic show. We took a huge box and cut a hole in the top of it. I got inside the box and made things appear and disappear while my sister gave the “Abracadabra” sound offs outside. We had an old tape recorder inside where we played music and cued other elements of the show. We called it “House of Houdini.”
I hope kids today still have opportunities to play this way.
Thanksgiving always brings back these memories. That is what I cherish the most. That is what I want to give my children. That is what I am thankful for: the precious moments my sisters and I had together and the time and creative space and attention my parents gave to us.
Make some memories with your family this Thanksgiving. Check out some books from the local library and read together.
If you are having family visit you in your home, get your kids to make place cards for the dinner table. Make a thankful tree and let family members add what they are thankful for. See if your kids want to put on a play or sing a song for your relatives. If you have a Wii or other game system, set up a bowling tournament. Or play turkey bowling: take some empty two liters and add some sand to the bottoms. Let the kids color a picture of a turkey to glue onto the front of the bottles. Use a heavier weight ball like a basketball or soccer ball to play.
The weather is predicted to be beautiful this turkey day. Why not get outside and make those piles of leaves? Grab some more ideas at Family Fun magazine online  or http://family.go.com/crafts/ 
Photos Courtesy of http://family.go.com  and Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc. (4-C)