WFMW: 5 Ways to Take Back Thanksgiving

“You mean we won’t be eating turkey?” my 6 year old asked in surprise.

There won’t be a turkey.

Or a pumpkin pie.

No, mashed potatoes or a food-coma-football game.

For the first time in our family’s history, we won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving.

We will be living it.

5 Orange Pumpkins In A Row

We will be holding babies in Kenya that weren’t supposed to be born. We will be hugging girls that should have died. We will be eye witnesses to the remarkable story that God has written.

“Will we even know it’s Thanksgiving Day?” she asked.

Yes, we will know, darling. Because Thanksgiving is more than food and parades and bounty. It’s testimony. It’s looking at what God has done-from the mundane to the miraculous- and breaking bread, our lives, in thanks for it. We will know.

Your Thanksgiving won’t look like mine. But I urge you to take it back. We live in a world that has turned a turkey into a god and God into something routine.

Five Ways to Take Back Thanksgiving:

1. Be intentional. Write down your thanks–on a paper tablecloth, pinned to a wreath, in a gratitude journal. Read it out loud. Share your thanks.

2. Share your table. Invite a single friend, a new divorced mom, neighbors, strangers and feast with them.

3. Don’t be a consumer. I’m all about a good deal, but let’s not turn this day of thanks into another day of shopping.

4. Give thanks by giving your life away. Find some way, someone to share your resources with. Look at your excess (toys, clothes, food) and find someone who needs what you have too much of.

5. Include God. It sounds trite, but it’s powerful and freeing to remember and acknowledge where every gift comes from (God in Heaven).  Offer gratitude to the One who gives us breath and hope.



  1. 1


    Jeremiah tells us that during his time, it was the custom during the fast of Yom Kippur for those with plenty to give to the hungry the food they would be eating if it were not a fast, and that the poor were considered exempt, because they were already hungry.

    I think a wonderful addition to your idea would be to make the traditional dinner, as a family, and then deliver it to a soup kitchen, or some such.

  2. 3


    We just moved to the UK from Oregon 2 weeks ago. The Christmas season is already in full swing, since there is no Thanksgiving to “hold it back.” It’s been so strange. My 6-year-old said, “Mommy, I don’t think I’ll like it here since they don’t give thanks.” :-) Maybe I’ll share this post with him!

  3. 4

    melissa says

    I live overseas, in Europe. My boys go to a local public school, speak the local language, and because Thanksgiving is an American holiday, it is a normal day where we are. We’ve been to school on Thanksgiving, we’ve shopped on Thanksgiving, we’ve even had a cup of coffee to drink in the car on Thanksgiving while our boys napped on our way to colleagues’ home to celebrate.

    What’s impacted me the last number of years of living overseas, is that it’s a normal day. But, it’s also something that I have to make the effort to teach about in our home, and I also have the opportunity to focus on the “Give Thanks to God” part, instead of the side that focuses on the turkeys and all the ‘stuff’.

    But what I also appreciate is when we get together with our colleagues and celebrate Thanksgiving together. Because all of our families are back in the US, it’s a meaningful time together to celebrate our traditional American holiday. I also really appreciate that we do a devotional/Bible reading together and sing songs. My family never did that…it was more like an all-afternoon eating fest; and I love how we spend time now thanking and praising God. Being overseas has helped me to appreciate Thanksgiving in a more meaningful way.

  4. 8

    Leasa says

    What a great post. Thank you for writing this and reminding us about what Thanksgiving is really about. I will be praying for your family as you travel and trust God that this will be your greatest Thanksgiving your family has ever had.

  5. 9


    This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this. I want it to be an intentional day in our home, too. I hope you have a beautiful trip.

  6. 10


    I love this post! Our little family definitely tries to keep everyone centered on Thanksgiving and centered around the family & what’s important.

  7. 11


    This is one main reason why I am glad Canadian Thanksgiving is in early October — we are far enough removed from the Christmas holiday that no one is really thinking about shopping. It’s actually at our harvest time, and coming from farmers, I know what it is to be thankful for a bountiful table. It’s definitely about counting your blessings and gathering your loved ones for me.

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