A Thanksgiving Journal

Do you go all out for Thanksgiving? Do you host dinner in your home? Are you the wonderful cook?

I can’t even make myself reach into a store-bought chicken to pull out the extra parts let alone be trusted with a turkey. I can make a mean bowl of mashed potatoes or take on the crafty side of Thanksgiving, like decorating or making and sharing the holiday journal.

For many years we have shared Thanksgiving at my sister-in-law’s home in beautiful Napa, California. But the one year we did host Thanksgiving, I presented the family with this book. Words of Thanksgiving. Holden-Thanksgiving-Book-01 In lieu of going around the table and saying what your thankful for, (no one really wants to say the deep stuff out loud), this book gets passed around all day. Not everyone chooses to write in it and that’s ok. But the thankful entries of those who do, give history to the happenings in the lives of our family over many years of gatherings.Holden-Thanksgiving-Book-02There’s a page of scribbles from Bennett at age 20 months. But my favorite page is the one that has an entry from each of my children:Holden-Thanksgiving-Book-03

“I im Thake for familys
This being Sarah’s first Thanksgiving with us since her mom, my sister, passed away and we adopted her.

“turkeys are what Iim I thankfol for

“I am thankfoul for frends and famley.

The book is a simple store-bought journal that I added a printed gold paper label to. You can get as elaborate or simple as you like, just be sure it’s not so overly decorated that it becomes too cumbersome to write in. Make a few extra for friends and neighbors. As with ours, yours can become a meaningful journal of the blessings in the life of your family.

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24 Responses to A Thanksgiving Journal

  1. #1 - Jennifer says:

    This is a wonderful idea! What a sweet entry you shared too 🙂

  2. #2 - Elizabeth says:

    This is an awesome idea! I’ve been searching for some sort of Thanksgiving holiday tradition to start to no avail. Since Mom passed away, the holidays are now mine since no one else is sentimental. Maybe this will work.

  3. #3 - Elizabeth says:

    Oh, and one year I wrote scripture verses about giving thanks on construction paper leaves for each place setting. That seemed to go okay.

  4. #4 - Pumpkin Petunia says:

    The journal is a wonderful idea!

    We have a chalkboard that hangs in our kitchen and on Thanksgiving we all (the children, my husband and I) write our lists of what we’re thankful for and I photograph it so it will be permanent.

    I host Thanksgiving every year. I also cringe when taking out the innards of the turkey -sometimes I even gag. But other than that, I love hosting. I am definitely not a great cook, but I have found a turkey to be one of the easiest meals too cook. Also, hosting gives me a chance to show off my turkey gravy boat collection!

  5. #5 - Betsy's girl says:

    Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I made my first full dinner (for 8 people)when I was 11. Over the years I’ve gone from being completely necrotic (would make Martha seem like a lazy stoner serving Taco Bell) to feeling comfortable with my recipes and letting the day be more about loving and sharing than decorating.
    My turkey tip… dance with it before you cook it. Yes, pull out the Abba and get down with that bad bird before you even start looking for the gizzards. Trust me. It’s delicious.

  6. #6 - T.Allen-Mercado says:

    You are so clever and wonderful! I should start a journal, my children always have witty words at the table. In my home, I’m the chef of the future I make all of the vegetarian stuff taste like “real stuff”. And then, I beat everyone mercilessly at board games.

    We used to schlep NYC from borough to borough visiting family and then I decided we should move 3k miles away, less stress. 😉

  7. #7 - mayaluna says:

    I love this idea: simple, meaningful and inclusive of all (regardless of age). I’ll be bringing this to MY sister-in-law’s this year. It’s always a pleasure seeing what beautiful or clever thing you’ve come up with.

  8. #8 - brucewood says:

    I am going out to get my new journal this weekend!!! Thanks for the great idea Cathe!!

    The kids’ journal entries are precious.

  9. #9 - ladybug1024 says:

    What an awesome idea! My mom is mourning our family getting smaller right now (grandparents passing away, kids not having kids yet). I so wish I had something like this from the past. We’ll have to start! Thanks for sharing.

  10. #10 - High Desert Diva says:

    What a wonderful idea…

  11. #11 - kim* says:

    aw this post makes me all warm and toasty.

  12. #12 - Maribel says:

    I love this idea…thanks for sharing. I think I’ll start this too.

  13. #13 - Tania says:

    I was on Bruce’s computer Cathe!!! It wasn’t really bruce that left the comment. That would be funny if he did. Thanks for the comments on my blog!!

  14. #14 - Cathe Holden says:

    too bad, Tania, I thought I finally had some male readership! ha ha.

  15. #15 - Whitney Johnson says:

    Just found your blog – how fun! I love the journal idea. I think that recognition of blessings and gratitude is so great. We have a “holiday tree” for three months. Halloween starts with scary ornaments, then it becomes the gratitude tree in November filled with tags of things everyone is thankful for. It’s fun to add tags and read everyone else’s. I have saved each past years’ tags on a clamp o-ring so they’re like little albums, and put them in a basket under the tree for everyone to look at. In fact, I just posted about my tree. You can see some pics on kindredjoy.blogspot.com. Happy Day!

  16. #16 - Buttons says:

    I love this idea, Cathe! I had suggested to our family that we start a journal about our funny family stories. You know, the ones you tell over and over as the years go by.
    As for Thanksgiving; years ago, our mom gave each of her daughters a giant glass jar for us to fill up all year long with our blessings. Good report cards, receipts for cars paid off, thank you notes all went into the jars. These kinds of wonderful things reminded us of how blessed our lives really are.

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. #17 - Miss B. says:

    Amazing idea! How special to have those memories preserved! AND of course beautiful journal:)

  18. #18 - Nancy says:

    Thanksgiving is the intro to Christmas at our house. We make snowflakes (beauties) See some good ones at Dave’s Snowflake page on the web. There is usually a turkey bowl going on in the morning, if it’s not too cold (a little flag football mania)
    My husband does the turkey on the grill (charcoal) with a rub down of garlic and rosemary and more fresh rosemary on the banked coals so it is kinda smoked and bbcued all at once. The best part is that he doesn’t overcook it…It is nice and juicy.
    We get our Christmas tree that day or the next day. Something fun is putting a random subject under each person’s plate and they have to bring it up surreptitiously during dinner and then at the end of the meal we try and guess what each person’s subject was…like the price of rice in China or how long a giraffe’s neck is or whatever. Some people are pretty sneaky.

  19. #19 - Desirai says:

    I don’t usually read your blog this early in the morning, but I’m glad I did. Nothing like starting the day feeling inspired, motivated, and anxious to create!

    We may have extra guests at Thanksgiving this year, I think it’s a perfect time to start a tradition like this. Thank you for sharing.

  20. #20 - Anonymous says:

    I love this idea! I’ve just purchased a handmade book from this Etsy seller to use for ours:


    So many nice ways to make the holidays more meaningful for our families. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    Just a question: How do you keep your journal from being lost in the shuffle or damaged during the rest of the year? Any tips on keeping it safe?

  21. #21 - Cathe Holden says:

    During the day of Thanksgiving, I keep an eye out for the book in case it’s not being circulated and I nudge people by handing them the book and a pen. During the year I keep the book tucked in my China Hutch with the crystal. It’s the only non-dish item in that cabinet.

    Thanks for asking! What an amazing response- thank you everyone!!

  22. #22 - Brenda says:

    We’ve done the journal thing and them mom introduced writing on a dish cloth. I remember writing, “I’m thankful for technology.” I had a son far away at that time.

  23. #23 - Heather says:

    I LOVE this! We hosted Thanksgiving at our home this past year, for the first time. It was such a success that everyone has demanded a repeat. The thing I felt we missed, though, was sharing what we are thankful for. As you said, no one wants to share the deep, meaningful stuff out loud… I had thought of giving everyone a couple of decorative slips of paper and letting them write things down to be shared (anonymously) at mealtime. This would be the perfect way to collect and save them for future dinners!

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