Gratitude Letters – A Thanksgiving Tradition

by Christine Sine

by Emily Huff,

This is what our kids have to deal with having a mom who is a teacher. 

Our family assignment every year around Thanksgiving is to write a letter about what we are grateful for and to share these letters around the table. While there might be some eyes that roll when I remind them of this exercise each year, I am convinced that this is such good work for us all to build these muscles and to practice giving thanks together. The notebook where we keep all these letters from years past also serves as a pretty sweet time capsule (as we started it in 1995), and we get some good laughs looking back through different reflections, drawings, and handwriting through the years. 


Thanksgiving Letters


Our Thanksgiving Notebook


Notebook Page

When we have celebrated Thanksgiving at other family’s houses, we would not ask everyone to participate, and just the four of us in our immediate family would write letters and read them together later over the holiday weekend. 

Over the last few years when we have hosted Thanksgiving at our house, we have invited those gathered with us to write a letter if they wanted to (making sure they understood that there was no pressure) to read around our table after our Thanksgiving feast.


1996 Letter


2012 Reading of the Thanksgiving Letter


2012 Letter 

This 2012 letter was from our son Taylor when he was 7 years old. I love that he added Legos after he realized that was not on his original list. 🙂 


2012 Anna’s Letter at age 10


2017 Thanksgiving Reading


2017 Thanksgiving Reading

A few years ago, we invited a friend to join us for Thanksgiving during her sophomore year in college to be her home away from home, and we invited her to write a letter. I pulled out our notebook of Thanksgiving letters and was able to show her three letters from 1998 when we spent Thanksgiving with her and her family when she was just 2 1/2 years old. We were able to reminisce and read letters from her parents and see the list of things she had dictated to her mom 17 years ago. What a treat to have her add another one to our notebook so many years later! Milk and sunshine made the list back in ’98 so she made sure to put them on her list that year too. 🙂 

This world dishes out plenty of things that can weigh us down so I believe it’s essential to carve out intentional time to focus on the good gifts we have been given and to cultivate gratitude together. 

Facebook Live Gearing Up Wonder of AdventJoin Christine and Lilly for the next session of Facebook Live on October 13th, 2021 at 9am PT. If you are not able to join live, you can check out the recording on YouTube later.


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