Monday, November 22, 2010

Storytelling on Thanksgiving

I love taking time to remember an event. My husband says I have the memory of a trap door. What goes in never comes out. Little memories become etched in my brain and I often find myself thinking about a random night two years ago spent watching TLC, or the time we drove from central California all the way to Seattle in one day with a 6 month old in tow, or that first time Nate actually seemed aware of the TV. It was last Thanksgiving and the Macy's Day parade was on. It's hard to believe he was only a little over 2 months old at the time, but we was enthralled by the movement and colors on the screen.

Anyway, it's nice to bring certain memories up every once in a while, even if they don't seem important or incredibly significant.

November is National Storytelling Month, which can fit in nicely with Thanksgiving. Many family traditions consists of sitting at the dinner table, smelling the warm, freshly baked food, while each person quickly takes turns recounting what they are thankful for before diving into the turkey and fixin's.

But instead of rushing through this part of they day, why not incorporate National Storytelling Month into the mix? By recounting family memories, each family member will have the chance to also talk about what they are thankful for.

Storytelling helps children activate their thinking process, encourages communication, and creates a sense of connection and community between those who share the story. (source)

Here are some tips to help you incorporate National Storytelling Month into Thanksgiving Day.

1). Break out the albums.  As everyone looks through old pictures, stories will naturally emerge. And as the stories emerge, hopefully everyone will remember to include what they are thankful for.

2). Initiate conversation. Begin bringing up stories. Funny stories are always guaranteed to get everyone talking and sharing. Encourage everyone to share.  Ask them what they remember about the moment. Even the little ones might chime in, which is always (ok, usually) endearing.

3). Showcase family heirlooms. Anything that has special sentimental value to your family can be displayed on Thanksgiving. These things usually spark ideas for conversations and story telling moments.

4). Create a "Thankful Tablecloth." My mother-in-law created a tablecloth where everyone, grandchildren and children, wives and husbands, write their name, year, and what they are thankful for. This tablecloth has been around for many more years than I have been a part of their family, but the history it contains is obvious. Each year, the progress of the childrens' handwriting is evident. New children are added to the mix. Each person figures out something new to be thankful for, while remembering what they were thankful for the year before. I have seen family members begin recounting stories after taking a look at the tablecloth.

5). Choose an appropriate time to reminisce. It seems that most families want take time to reflect before eating.  The food is on the table.  Steam rises from the turkey and that green bean casserole smells delish. Everyone's stomach is growling. Instead of truly reflecting, most just ramble something quickly, hoping that everyone else is just as quick.

What Thanksgiving traditions does your family maintain? 
Do any of them involve storytelling?


  1. I am thankful for you! Happy turkey day

  2. It is a wonderful time to be with family! I just love when my whole family gets together!!

  3. What a great way to expand Thanksgiving beyond the meal. The idea of a Thanksgiving tablecloth where everyone can contribute their thoughts is good and provides the perfect rationale for having a paper version! Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  4. Love the ideas! We don't have anything set in stone but it always seems like Thanksgiving is a time for telling stories about the past. With everyone gathered together it just happens naturally. I love the idea about the tablecloth!

  5. I've just come across your blog and I love it! I think the Thanksgiving tablecloth idea is awesome but I have a couple of questions:

    What kind of tablecloth is it and what do you use to write on it with?

    How do you clean it without the writing fading/running??

    Thanks, and keep on with this great blog. It's one of the best I've ever seen! (I had to comment as Anonymous as this is the first time I've ever commented on a blog and didn't know how to do it!!)