Every family has traditions. There’s the traditional green bean casserole, the traditional trip to the holiday trains, or the traditional snow ball fight.
What we often don’t think about is that someone had to decide to make that tradition a tradition. Too often, we settle into the idea that the way things are is the way they’ve always been and always will be. If you can rewrite your script, you can definitely rewrite your traditions too.
In my family, we have the tradition of spending Thanksgiving at a beach condo with my wife’s family. The kids put together a Thanksgiving play each year and we take an annual family photo by the ocean. My favorite tradition is when we hold hands and go around the circle saying what we’re thankful for.
These moments when the family is all together are precious, and it’s important to look at that time and decide if it’s being used well. Are the kids playing and collaborating together, or are they all glued to their iPads and Xbox consoles? Is everyone taking time to be thankful for the year behind them, or are they busy complaining about the obstacles of the year ahead?
If you think your Thanksgiving could use some shaking up, begin something new this year. Traditions don’t exist until someone starts them, so be the one to take the initiative in your family. If you need some ideas to start, try some of the ideas below:
In this electronic age, it’s easier and easier for families to spend more time texting and responding to emails than talking to one another. Make the thirty minutes before and thirty minutes after your meal “unplugged” (i.e. no electronics, no calls, no emails, no texts). Focus on who you’re with in the moment.
Bring a Thanksgiving craft that everyone has to participate in (parents too!). Whether this is stamping handprints on a family tree or assigning each person a page in the family scrapbook, make sure everyone has a role to play.
At the meal, go around the table and have everyone say one thing he or she is thankful for.
Try using recipes from friends, or even from your in-laws. Just because you brother-in-law’s family’s pumpkin pie recipe is different doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious. Tie the family closer together by weaving in traditions that didn’t originate in your house.
Don’t leave all the cooking up to the family matriarch. Make the preparations an experience everyone gets a taste of, and don’t leave the kids out, even if they just set the table.
Take the time to develop good habits and even better traditions, and you can be sure that your great-grandchildren will thank you one day.
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As a speaker and author, Curtis Zimmerman has impacted over one million people with his life-changing messages and award-winning programs. Curtis is an expert at transforming organizations by inspiring individuals to live their lives at performance level.
Want to be inspired? Check out his podcast The Next 24 Hours.