Thanksgiving Traditions

Thankful Traditions

Women's Day photo

The Kay family photo for Woman’s Day magazine.

Not every “savings” can be measured in dollars and cents. One of the things we emphasized in our family is the saving of memories. Our Thankful Tree was featured in a Woman’s Day magazine one year. It took two photographers 8 rolls of film and four hours to get one 3 x 5 photo in the magazine. Joshua was missing for one roll of film and we didn’t notice until we saw him making faces from behindthe photographers and we asked, “What are you doing back there?”

The tip we gave is how we’ve stayed in touch with family and friends during this holiday. On November 1st, we made a Thankful Tree on poster board and put it on our wall or front door. The tree was bare because the leaves that we made out of construction paper have not yet been gathered. The leaves have the person’s name on them and say, “Papa is thankful for _________.” But we left the tree bare at the beginning of the season to teach the children how barren our lives are without the giving of thanks.

We made and sent the leaves to friends and family around the world along with a self-addressed envelope. When these envelopes came back, the children got excited as they took turns opening them. At dinner that night, we read the leaf and give thanks along with those who are thankful and put the leaf on our tree. By Thanksgiving Day, we had a tree full of thanks. We carefully saved the leaves in an envelope marked by the year and kept all in our Thanksgiving decoration box. Each year, we read the leaves from past years.

We never know when this year’s leaf might be someone’s last, or which family might have a new leaf on next year’s tree. So we give thanks.  These days, we gather “thankful comments” from facebook, email and twitter, but the point is we are connecting with friends and family in a meaningful way.

This holiday, what are YOU thankful for?  Besides our health and our family, we are thankful for two weddings this year, healthy grandchildren, and the chance to be together during the holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ellie Kay


  1. Jennifer Mann 7 years ago

    I am so thankful for the privilege in being a mom to 5 beautiful children. They have taught me more about myself and God than anything I have ever done.

  2. Ruby Milk 7 years ago

    Hi Ellie and family,
    I am thankful for my children and my family. I love the awesome people they are. I have a son with cancer and its been almost 3 years since they gave him 5 years. I am thankful for every single day i have with him, he is doing well, a few pains once in a while, a rough day/night once in a while, but i treasure every second we have to still laugh together.
    Ruby Milk

  3. Claudia Crafton 7 years ago

    I am thankful for the precious life of my sister who passed away November 1, 2012. She was a beautiful spirit and I will deeply miss her but know I will see her again in heaven. I love you forever Karen!

  4. Connie Daniel 7 years ago

    My sister just passed away (to Heaven)-she was 66 yrs. old and was my dearest earthly friend and best buddy. I miss her terribly but I am so thankful-so grateful for the 61 years that God has given me with her. I am trying to keep in mind all the good times we had together. My family and her family always shared our Thanksgiving dinner together. Not sure how our Thanksgiving Day will go this year….

  5. Sherrye 7 years ago

    We have a ‘Thankful Tree’ at church. Several years ago we took a limb and secured it in a large pot with plaster of paris. We cut leaves out of construction paper and pass them out to church members. We write on them what we are thankful for and tie them to the branches.

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