Few holidays bring the generations together like Thanksgiving. From great-grandparents down to newborns, this is a day when families everywhere gather to celebrate what they have in common – family.
But sometimes that time together draws undo attention to the differences between its members. Conversations about the techy gifts on the teens’ holiday wish lists can leave Grandma dazed and confused, while tales of the good old days can leave the youngsters of the family reaching for their phones.
Don’t let this precious opportunity for time together slip away. Take time now to plan multi-generational activities that will be fun for everyone.
This one will take a little work, but it's a multi-generational activity that will get everyone talking.
Provide each member of the family with a grid resembling a bingo card. Inside each square, write a question about a member of the family. In order to cover that square, the person must get the answer to the question by engaging in conversation with that family member. You might want to make a rule that no question can be asked outright, but must come from an actual conversation.
The youngest and oldest members might find this difficult. If so, give them a partner with whom to tackle the challenge.
Customize this classic game with photos of family members, past and present. Be sure to include pictures of relatives who have passed on or who couldn’t visit for the holiday, as well as brand new babies and photos taken at special family events.
The pictures will spark memories, ignite stories and teach the family’s youngest members about relatives they may not know or remember. Older relatives who struggle with memory issues can benefit, too.
Make sure the photos are large and clear enough to be seen easily, and that they all look the same from the back. Photos can be printed in pairs, or match two different pictures of the same person to create a match.
A Chain of Gratitude
Start preparing for Christmas by making an old-fashioned paper chain. Go ahead and use traditional green and red, but give the project a Thanksgiving twist by writing something you are thankful for on the inside of each link.
Children, parents and grandparents will all benefit from brainstorming about their many blessings, and the chain will stand as a constant reminder of the family’s time together.
Don’t just chat about the weather and which team is winning the football game. Spark real conversation this Thanksgiving with a simple jar or box full of questions. Choose a question from the container and then listen while each member of the family responds.
Questions might include:
What was the best day of your life? What day do you wish you could live over again? What’s the best thing that happened to you this year?
Keep the questions on the positive side, and simple enough for everyone to answer. By the end of the game, your family will know one another better and have memories that will last for many Thanksgivings to come.
Messages of Thanks
After the dinner dishes are cleared, replace them with paper, pens, crayons and markers for a family letter-writing session.
Members of the U.S. military will be spending the holidays away again this year, and they can use words of encouragement from those of us back home. Naperville-based Operation Support Our Troops is committed to sending care packages, treat-filled Christmas stockings and letters and cards to those serving our country.
Put your letter or homemade card into an unsealed envelope, then put all of your greetings into a package and mail it to OSOT America,1807 South Washington St., Suite 110, Box #359, Naperville, Illinois, 60565. The folks at OSOT will be sure your letters get to soldiers who could use a cheerful bit of news from hom