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Creating New Thanksgiving Traditions for 2020

The year 2020 has been unique in a number of ways. This year, many families are looking for new ways to celebrate together — and to increase gratitude despite being physically apart. In a year filled with challenges, it can be more difficult than ever before to create new Thanksgiving traditions that will allow you to focus on all the things you're grateful for. Why not try some of these ideas this holiday season? 

1. Share one of your favorite recipes.

Now is the perfect time for grandparents to hand down a favorite, cherished recipe and make sure that other members of the family can reproduce it. If you're not able to be together physically, consider connecting via Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts. Make sure that each family member has the recipe and ingredients on hand, then let Grandma or Grandpa share all the great details of putting together that recipe. From cooking up the turkey to making your favorite dessert together, this is the ideal year to start new Thanksgiving traditions. 

2. Put together a family gratitude tree. 

As a family, write down all the things that you're grateful for this year. Place them on leaves on a tree. Encourage younger family members to take the time to write down something new that they're grateful for each day. Be sure to enjoy those silly responses! You may find that, while older family members focus on gratitude for family and a sense of connection, younger ones are excited about specific toys or traditions. Send the leaves to a central location and have one family member put together the entire tree. On Thanksgiving, take the time to read over all the things the members of your family are grateful for. 

3. Do a little crafting together.

Do you have a long-term family tradition of putting together special crafts for the Thanksgiving holidays? Do you want to create new holiday traditions this year that center around crafting together? Sit down and put together a fun craft, whether it's a table centerpiece or window decorations for Thanksgiving. Consider a holiday craft that each member of the family can add to, even from a distance: for example, you might want to have the kids cut out leaves, which senior family members can then arrange into a wreath or garland. 

4. Do a little online shopping. 

Sure, you may not be able to brave the stores together on Black Friday — a particular problem for elderly family members, who may be more concerned about avoiding the crowds. You can, however, take advantage of online shopping opportunities. Many stores, including Home Depot, are kicking off their Black Friday sales early in November to make sure that everyone has plenty of time to shop (and that shipping delays don't prevent items from arriving in time for Christmas). Sit down and do your shopping together, whether you can sit by the computer together or you need to connect virtually from across the country. 

5. Make sure far-away family members are remembered this season.

This season, the CDC recommends keeping gatherings small. Many people are also choosing to forego holiday travel in favor of staying closer to home. Unfortunately, for some families, that can mean that not every family member will be able to show up for the holidays this year. Combine forces to make sure that everyone, from family members in nursing homes and assisted living facilities to service members or family members living across the country, feels like part of the celebration. Send out care packages, cards, or other special items that let your loved ones know that you're thinking of them.

The holidays are approaching fast, and many people are dreading the possibility that this year's celebrations will not include the close family connections they've been able to experience in years past. With a little creativity, however, you can create new Thanksgiving traditions and embark on exciting new journeys that will help you make the most of this unique season. 

Written by: Yelena Sokolsky