If you are wondering what to give thanks for on Thanksgiving Day this year, you could think about all of the many reasons that most people tell each other they are grateful for, such as their health, their family, a roof over their head, food on the table, a job, money in the bank, your parents, good friends, opportunity, having all of your senses, a good harvest, etc, all of which are genuine and honest.
You could be a bit different than everybody else and add in something new by sparing a thought for our planet as well. Give thanks to our planet, the Earth, our home, the roof over all of our heads, that which provides all that we need to survive, all things in nature. Show thanks by acting the part of being grateful for all it has to offer and give back to it by adopting a sustainable approach to living your life.
When ‘Giving’ For Thanksgiving Means Giving To The Planet
Many people spend Thanksgiving, or a part of it, giving to others. Make sure you also give to the planet as well. Start your new intention to live a greener lifestyle by choosing greener options with everything you use, eat and do on Thanksgiving Day. Don’t just make it a new tradition for your family, make it a way of life.
Being Thankful Is Easy When You Know What To Be Thankful For
Here is how you can emanate thankfulness, live sustainably and still enjoy Thanksgiving Day. Think about how you can adapt what you already know and make your day a greener experience, or try these great alternatives to old traditional methods of celebration. You will love it, and the planet will be thanking you in return. There is a saying, “be the change you wish to see in this world”. Instead, be the “Thanks” that you wish to see in this world.
Decorate With Style – Make Old Traditions Fashionable Again
Back in the times of the pilgrims, they didn’t have the access we have nowadays to ready made decorations and fancy, but disposable ornamental table ware. They made do with what they had, taking inspiration from their natural surroundings. This is probably the best way to hold Thanksgiving with the intent of maintaining the sustainability choice you have made. Do the same, use natural materials, make your own adornments for the table, and avoid using disposable plastic plates, cups and cutlery, by using your own finery. If you want to think even greener, lean toward using recyclable glassware and include in that, all of the serving plates and platters, and use stainless steel cutlery. Give thanks by being grateful for your natural surroundings.
Here are some simple decorating ideas using nature:
Use pine cones. They are so versatile. Try surrounding a large glass candle holder with a soy, vegetable or bees wax candle within it with pine cones at the base to create a lovely warm, inviting atmosphere to your table. It is simple yet elegant. Of course there are many other ways to use pine cones in decorating. You can scatter them across the table in amongst decorated mason jar candle holders or steel buckets, or make place card holders out of them.
- Make a vase or plant pot holder from a carved out pumpkin and place a pot plant or freshly cut seasonal flowers or herbs inside.
- Use upside down, long-stemmed glasses and place soy or vegetable candles on top. You can add additional decorative effect by placing something underneath the glass such as mini pumpkins, leaves, nuts, etc. These make very elegant decorations and you can use them for many occasions, not just Thanksgiving, simply by changing the color of the candles and what you place underneath.
- Use maple leaves or other familiar fall leaves as place cards.
- Make garlands for the landing, walls or table using string and attaching leaves. Write a letter on each leaf and spell out words like gratitude, thankfulness, Happy Thanksgiving, etc. These truly are natural, especially if you choose to write using a vegetable ink or something similar to either write or stamp the letters onto the leaves.
Sprinkle dried legumes, peas and corn kernels in clumps over the table here and there. Or place them in layers in glass bowls or bottles.
- Place 3 or 4 pumpkins in a row down the center of the table and place sprigs of berries around them
- Make a leaf wreath, or use wheat or flexible branches with berries dotted throughout. Maybe even try making a flower wreath.
- Paint small wooden posts, such as those you might find on an old staircase, or perhaps find some wooden off-cuts, orange and decorate with white paint, bows and raffia and use them as inviting ornaments at the entrance to your home. They don’t need to look like anything specific, just the colors will be enough to generate the feel of Thanksgiving.
- Gather a pile of acorns and paint the bases all different colors, use them in bowls or scattered on tables etc. You might attach them to a card for place settings for your guests
- Baskets of fruit, vegetables and bushels of wheat, look lovely on the table and remind feast attendees what the real reasons behind Thanksgiving are. Bountiful food from a good harvest season.
- Use apples, small pumpkins and other fruit or vegetables and scoop or cut out a portion of them out to turn them into tea light candle holders. If you prefer not to use open flame, you may be able to find LED candles, but personally I prefer not to use them due to being made from plastic and not necessarily in the best interests of the planet.
If Choosing Bought Items You Can Still Ensure They Remain As Natural As Possible
Go to a thrift store and try to find some old style clothing that might suit, and create your own pilgrim or Indian costumes to celebrate Thanksgiving in true pilgrim style. You will already be creating a setting that would be very similar to the days of old, so why not spruce up your setting a little more and re-create the first Thanksgiving? It could become a tradition for your family. There are places you can buy costumes and provided you pay attention to what they are made from, you may still feel confident that you are maintaining your sustainable choices.
- Find some burlap, some vegetable or soy based ink and something to use to stamp letters on to the burlap and make your own place mats and place cards. You could write messages of thanks, or individual names of guest, or simply say Happy Thanksgiving. If you are only planning on using them for this year, a safe paint could be used, such as a flour based paint, (see below for a recipe).
- Instead of writing messages such as those listed in the previous subject, you might choose to write a gratitude quote on each one to serve as a reminder of the reasons Thanksgiving is celebrated each year. If you follow a religion in your household, pop a note that relates in some way to it on each place mat.
What Activities Can You Do While Maintaining Your Beliefs?
Think up, create and make your own family game and turn it into a family Thanksgiving tradition. For example, use pegs and attach colorful feathers and make up a Turkey Tag game to be played at each Thanksgiving. Each person starts with a peg or two attached to their clothing, like a tail. Blow a whistle to start the game. Everyone runs around to try to steal each others feathers until one turkey is left with all of them, declaring themselves the winner. As each person loses all of their feathers before replacing them with any more, they are out. The game is a great way to burn off some of the excess food or work up an appetite. You can think up other games of your own.
- Try painting gourds left over from Halloween and have a go at playing Pilgrim Skittles by making your own set. Pinterest has plenty of ideas of how to create skittles or bowling pins for all kinds of occasions and design styles, all you need to do is choose items to use that are from a recyclable or sustainable source.
- My granddaughter and I made up our own board game about Dinosaurs (see image on the right) and used six A4 sheets of paper and glued them on to cardboard and each piece attached to each other to form a giant board. While dinosaurs are not exactly a Thanksgiving theme, it is still a game we love to get out and play. I already have other games in mind to make for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I’m sure the other holidays will eventually have a game dedicated to them. It doesn’t only add an element of fun, you also get to spend quality time together both making it and playing it, and to create something as a joint venture, which you can play for many years of enjoyment to come.
- Why not create a family play or puppet show each year? You can keep it simple by using socks and making puppets, or purchasing proper hand puppets or marionettes. Start with a recreation of the first Thanksgiving. Have it that a different person each year has a chance to create something and include all or some of the guests. Or if the person whose turn it is one of the years is not as creative as other people, they can always create something else as long as it includes the rest of the guests. It shouldn’t really matter as long as everyone gets involved.
- My family love games, as you can probably guess, especially board games. There are the usual standard games for a smaller group such as Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Uno, Skipbo, and many more. Sometimes we choose one of our theme games such as Star Wars Monopoly or Clue for example, yes, we love Star Wars in my family.
We also love to adapt games that you might normally play on a board, and make it a game for playing in a large group. Games such as Trivial Pursuit, Catch Phrase, Scattergories, Pictionary, can all be adapted for larger groups. You don’t need to use the game board. For example, with Trivial Pursuit the group simply take turns at asking questions from a card and the rest of the group try to answer. You can keep score if you like, but we just prefer to jump in with an answer. We like to give weird clues to ‘help’ each other when it’s a tricky one. With everybody taking turns to ask questions, nobody misses out on the fun. We have the normal Trivial Pursuit, but I also have Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Lord Of The Rings versions (are you surprised?) of the game as well. So we can vary our theme each year.
- Catch Phrase works like a hot potato in your hands if you like to use the buzzer and create teams, or you can just take turns giving the clues for everyone to guess. These games are popular with us because we like to think we are clever. Although Catch Phrase has plastic in its manufacturing, I like to think it is not as bad because it is a once off purchase and gets used over and over again, making it something that isn’t just thrown away easily to mess up our environment. Often only one member of a whole family needs to buy one game and everyone can share it, and as the case with my family, it is years old, and that way we are still trying to minimise environmental impact. You can help by selecting games made in the most sustainable ways, but if that is not possible, make sure you are holding on to them for many years and traditions to come. Funnily enough, there is also a Star Wars version of Catch Phrase too.
- Make your own popular game using more sustainable materials to construct it. For example, you can make large scrabble pieces from thin, flat, wooden squares. Not only are you creating something to play but you are using alternative means to construct your game not using plastic etc that you might get if you buy the same game from a store. Then there is the added bonus of getting everyone outside in the fresh air to enjoy nature and some quality time together.
- You can do almost anything as long as you remember that what ever you use needs to be made from sustainable, renewable, natural or recyclable materials. Why not make a giant Yahtzee game by using large blocks of wood for the dice and painting the numbers on them? You could keep score using the old style blackboard slates like they used to use at school. Or simply paint wooden boards with black board paint and write with chalk.
Last but not least, take the time to get in touch with family members or friends who are not present on the day, such as those who live far away, or their job takes them a long way from home, and even those who are working on Thanksgiving who may appreciate a quick phone call from those who care about them. You could Skype them, call, or if you can’t speak to them directly, make sure you email or fax them to let them know you are thinking of them at your time of giving thanks.
Does This Help?
I hope that I’ve helped you think of a few ideas for what to give thanks for on Thanksgiving Day. It doesn’t have to be difficult to give thanks by choosing to keep the planet green. As you can see there are many ways in which to opt for the more Earth friendly celebratory parts of the day and lead up, many of which are cheap and readily available. Be thankful that the Earth is what she is and gives us everything we could ever need.
I’ve written another article giving suggestions on how you can give thanks on Thanksgiving that follows on nicely from this one. If you think of anything else, please add to this post by placing it within the comments section below and help a fellow man to be wise about his choices too. Anything that can be used to make this planet a better place for our future would be accepted with gusto. Likewise, please share with us how you have chosen to give thanks for your own Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all, keep safe and enjoy every minute of it.