My mom had this fun Thanksgiving tradition she did with my siblings and I when we were growing up called “The Gratitude Turkey”. Every year she would cut out a large turkey from butcher paper and hang it on our kitchen wall. She would then cut out an exorbitant amount of “turkey feathers” from construction paper. Beginning the first day of November, my mom would have all of us kids take at least one feather every morning and write down something we were thankful for. When we were young, our feathers would often times hold generic, duplicate statements, such as “I am grateful for friends”, but as we got older our statements of gratitude became more profound and personalized.
Growing up I did not appreciate the meaning of what our Thanksgiving turkey represented. Oh, it certainly was fun to see how the turkey’s feathery foliage grew day by day over the weeks. By Thanksgiving morning the turkey’s feathers would, often times, cover the majority of the kitchen wall. And it was always a treat to see what the other siblings would write on their daily feather. But the beautiful significance of what we were celebrating was lost on me until I grew older.
Our Gratitude Turkey was a beautiful reminder to be thankful for the blessings in our life, whether big or small. As a child it seemed that only the “important”, significant, or obvious things in life were worth remembering. But now that I am an adult, I have come to realize that sometimes the simplest, most insignificant things in life – those that I tend to take for granted – are the things I am most grateful for. And as a mother, this tradition of daily counting our blessings is something I want to pass down to my children.
Last year was the first year I did the Gratitude Turkey with my kids. The concept was more fun and entertaining than anything else since both kids were still so young. Now that my kids are one year older, however, I am hoping that they will begin to grasp the deeper significance of what it means to be thankful, what gratitude looks like, and why it is so important to practice a life of appreciation.
To make your own Gratitude Turkey you will need:
-Construction Paper (red, brown, yellow, and orange)
-Adhesive Wiggle Eye Stickers
-Pen or Marker (I find markers shows up best)
Begin by cutting a large butternut squash-shape from the butcher paper, which will be used for the turkey’s body. Cut legs and beak from either the yellow or orange construction paper, depending on your preference, and glue onto the turkey. You will also need to cut out a turkey snood (the red fleshy bit that hangs off the beak) from the red construction paper and add to one side of your turkey’s beak. Add the adhesive wiggly eyes before taping your turkey onto a wall.
From the remaining construction paper, you will need to cut “feathers”. Cut out as little or as many as you would like. The more feathers you cut out, the bigger your turkey foliage will end up being. Extra feathers will also allow wiggle room for multiple gratitude feathers per day or if a redo feather needs to be done. Beginning the first day of November, use a pen or maker to write down what you are thankful for. Finish off by taping the feathers behind the turkey.
I hope the Gratitude Turkey is a fun yet memorable tradition that your family is able to incorporate into the festive holiday season. My family is continually blessed with the reminder of how truly fortunate we are and hope that your family is able to walk away with a similar sense of contentment and joy.
Anna Engel is a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful children and has recently embarked upon the journey of homeschooling. Anna is also Co-Founder of Bundles & Co., an online consignment store which allows parents to buy and sell new or pre-owned children’s clothes from the convenience of home. In her free time, Anna enjoys exercising, crafting, and reading.