Written by Amber Moeller
“O Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!”
~ William Shakespeare
We are very quickly approaching my favorite holiday of the year. I have so many special memories and traditions with my family. It overwhelms my heart to remember all the special Thanksgivings over the years. It is especially dear to me because of the historical significance the day brings.
“Thanksgiving began as a holy day, created by a community of God-fearing Puritans sincere in their desire to set aside one day each year especially to thank the Lord for His many blessings.”
~ from “American’s Christian History: The Untold Story” by Gary DeMar
In 1619, the Puritans decided to annually commemorate thanks to the Lord for His many blessings. The day that they chose came after the harvest at a time of year when farm work was light.
It wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln declared, in 1863, that Thanksgiving should be every fourth Thursday of November that it became a nationwide celebration of thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a time that fills my heart with gladness and gratefulness for all that the Lord has provided: a comfortable home to live in, godly parents that love us and each other dearly, good health, loving friends, the beauty on the earth that was created for our pleasure, hope for the future and my eternal home, the Lord’s love and mercy, and so much more that I wouldn’t have enough paper to write them all down.
“Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God.”
~ Psalms 95:2-3a
For many years my family and I traveled four hours, to where my parents’ families lived, to celebrate Thanksgiving (and Christmas). When my Grandma Moeller died in 1994, we decided to have Thanksgiving at home so that we could make some memories and traditions of our own. These are the Thanksgivings that I remember most (since I was too young to remember much of the other years).
Our family has many traditions, which we have made over the years, that we enjoy.
The first tradition, that I can remember, that our family established for Thanksgiving was the menu. It makes my mouth water just to think about it. The dishes include: turkey, Thanksgiving Dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, Cranberry Salad, Orange Salad, Broccoli Salad, corn or Corn Pudding, delicious rolls (which I have dubbed Thanksgiving Rolls), pickles, olives, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie, and ginger ale.
Our second tradition: our family likes to invite a family or two to feast with us who, otherwise, would have been alone for the holiday. They come for the feast at about noon or one o’clock and usually stay to play games or dominoes and enjoy turkey sandwiches and leftovers with us. The time of fellowship is always very special.
Another tradition that we enjoy is after dinner. We pass around a small bowl of candy corn. Once everyone has a piece of candy, we tell each other what we are most thankful for in the past year.
The fourth tradition is one that is fun to do with children and is a wonderful way to include them in the preparations. For our orange salad, we like to serve it dressed up like a turkey. (Instructions for them are at the bottom of this article.)
We are coming to the close of our day. In Part II, I will share with you some of our Christmas traditions.
We all have so much to be thankful for. Let us remember to give thanks to the Lord not only on Thanksgiving, but everyday of the year!
Orange Salad Turkeys
Prepare the turkey heads and tails ahead of time; one for every person that you are expecting for dinner.
For one turkey head, using construction paper, you will need:
- 2 cut out heads (brown)
- 2 hats (black)
- 1 wattle (red)
- 1 beak (yellow)
- 2 buckles (yellow)
- 2 eyes (black)(a paper punch works well)
- 1 toothpick
- Elmer’s Glue
To assemble: Glue the beak and wattle to inside of one head piece. Glue a toothpick in center of the neck and glue on the other side of head. Next glue the two pieces for the hat on the top of the turkey head. Glue on the buckles and eyes. Set aside to dry over-night.
For one turkey tail, using construction paper, you will need:
- 5 tail feathers (each a different color)
- 1 toothpick
Glue the ends of the feathers together in a fan shape, then lightly glue a toothpick on the center of the back-side of the tail. Set aside to dry over-night.
Thanksgiving Day: cut an orange in half and carefully scoop out the fruit. You should now have two empty orange-peel bowls (cut as many oranges as you will need). Fill them with Orange Salad, refrigerate until serving time. Just before serving, place turkey heads and tails into the salad near the edge of the orange peels (don’t let the neck of the turkey stick out over the edge of the peel).