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Thanksgiving Traditions: Giving Thanks to Our Family Members

For Ms. Dora—teacher, counselor, mother, and grandmother—holidays and family make the perfect blend of good times and pleasant memories.

Mural replica of a Norman Rockwell painting

Mural replica of a Norman Rockwell painting

Giving Thanks for and to Your Family

As we give thanks to God for our family members, let us not neglect to give thanks to them, as well. The tradition around the family table is usually an expression of thanks from each person for at least one blessing. Some mention general thanks for the family or a family member, but if we always thank generally, some specific deeds and virtues will never get mentioned.

It is meaningful when we are intentional about the reasons we thank the individuals, and more meaningful still if we address our thanks to them. Thanksgiving with the extended family is the perfect occasion to boost an individual's sense of belonging while celebrating the joy of family.

Below are some ideas to inspire gratitude for family members. See how quickly and how long our list of blessings can grow. Let us give the proverbial flowers while each one can receive them and say, “Thank you.”

What greater blessing to give thanks for at a family gathering than the family and the gathering.

— Robert Brault

1. For Standing at Their Posts

In every family, there are usually some individuals who stand at their post. They perform the duties they are assigned. They carry their own weight. They can be found when they’re needed. It is easy to take them for granted and just thank them for being there. Why not take the time to address them and mention some specific performances? Thank:

  • dad for keeping his promises to attend sports and drama events;
  • mom for spending wisely and balancing the checkbook;
  • children for performing their chores without repeated instructions;
  • big brother or sister for tutoring a younger child.

“Family is where you learn how to share, how to relate, and how to treat other people.”1 It is the best place to learn the habit of expressing thanks to those who contribute the most to our lives.

Mural replica of a Norman Rockwell painting

Mural replica of a Norman Rockwell painting

2. For Standing in the Gap

Family members sometimes falter at their posts because of their humanity (for example: sickness, schedules beyond their control; unexpected expenses). At such times, other family members stand in the gap—filling the position or need. Say “thank you” to:

  • grandparents who substitute in the parents’ absence.
  • aunt and uncle who remain at a sick child’s bedside so the parents can take care of the other children.
  • sisters who bake extra bread when another is expecting house guests.
  • brothers who pay for the car repair so another can have transportation to get to work.

These supportive roles are important, and extra help deserves extra thanks. Remembering to thank these family members (whether or not they acted willingly) will make them feel happy that they helped out. It may also make them likely to step up again, voluntarily. Best of all, the hug after the mention will add to the positive mood of Thanksgiving.

3. For Standing Strong

The two sections above mention what family members do. We are also thankful for their characteristics which make them who they are and which combine to give our family the strength it has. Each time we thank family members for their strengths, we thank them for being a part of us. We make them feel worthy when we look them in the eye and thank them for virtues like:

  • encouragement
  • forgiveness
  • generosity
  • wholesome humor
  • loyalty

When we highlight the individual strengths of family members, we cement the foundation on which we thrive and nurture the love we share.

Norman Rockwell painting at Google Cultural Institute

Norman Rockwell painting at Google Cultural Institute

4. For Standing Patiently

Patience belongs on the list of strengths, but in the family it deserves special mention. “Family life grows miserable without patience . . . our relationships need patience in the same way an engine needs oil—without it, the friction will cause an explosion.2

So it is wonderful to thank:

  • the children for their patience during the times the person assigned to pick them up was late.
  • the wife who waits at home when a thirty-minute drive from the husband’s office takes two hours because of business emergencies.
  • the parent who worries for an entire day expecting to hear from the teenager who is traveling.
  • each one who waits for attention while media gadgets (everything from cell phones to television) get the time family members deserve.

We can always remind each other that the practice of patience helps us develop other personal strengths. Joyce Meyer, popular author and speaker reminds us that “Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it's how we behave while we're waiting.” To help encourage good behavior in patient family members, express sincere thanks.

Remembering Our Military Family

5. For Standing Together in Love

The Thanksgiving celebration is considered by many to be a family event. Rest assured, however, that the presence of non-family members will not lessen the power of the love and expressions of thanks between family members. It will most likely benefit the visitors who experience the demonstration of family love. It will also teach the joy of hospitality to those who are inclined to keep to themselves.

Whether or not visitors are present, be sure to strengthen family unity and love by:

  • devising a method by which each person present receives appreciation specifically addressed to him or her;
  • remembering those who recently passed on by mentioning positive reasons that they are missed;
  • stressing the need for love and thank expressions throughout the year.

Let Thanksgiving this year be an occasion when we empower each other with genuine expressions of thanks. Face to face is still the very best form of communication, except of course, when we're saying thanks to God; we can even close our eyes when we thank Him.


  1. Swindoll, Chuck: Lifeway Articles, 8 Characteristics of a Healthy Family, February 11, 2009
  2. Thomas, Gary: Thriving, Practicing Patience, Copyright 2011 by Gary Thomas

© 2014 Dora Weithers


Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 09, 2016:

Chin chin, it means something special to family members when we name them in our thanksgiving. They deserve it. Just a reminder for all of us.

Chin chin from Philippines on November 09, 2016:

This is such a great read. Thank you for the wonderful ideas on how we can show love and gratitude to our family (and non-family) members. We often neglect saying thanks and this is surely a good reminder of what we need to do.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 26, 2015:

Thank, Ann. You're very kind and I appreciate you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 26, 2015:

Whonu, thanks for your gracious comment and for sharing your experience with your classroom kids. What you did for them have a more lasting effect than you may ever know. I taught school for ten years, and there's no nobler work that contributing to the lives of the young. You can live on those memories!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 26, 2015:

Thank you Heidi. Hope your Thanksgiving was really enjoyable.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 26, 2015:

Geri, I'm encouraged that you like the article. Thanks for your affirming comment.

Ann Carr from SW England on November 26, 2015:

Congrats on HOTD Dora! Well deserved; you write with compassion, gentleness and clarity, always.


whonunuwho from United States on November 26, 2015:

Thank you for this wonderful tribute to a very special family time MsDora.Somehow I just knew you were a teacher. I was one for several years and saw kids who did with out at Thanksgiving. I spent my own money several Thanksgivings buying my classroom a celebration. Those are great memories. whonu

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on November 26, 2015:

What an insightful and timely post! Congrats on Hub of the Day. Well deserved. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us here on HP. Happy Thanksgiving!

Geri McClymont on November 26, 2015:


I loved reading your article. It is so easy to take others for granted. Your article causes us to stop and reflect on all the reasons we should appreciate one another...

Thank you for writing this beautiful and thought provoking article.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 26, 2015:

Word, on my list of thanks, you are worth many. I appreciate your encouragement and your support for as long as I've known you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 26, 2015:

Angela, thanks for your encouraging comment. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 26, 2015:

Kristen, I hope you take some time today to express thanks for lovely memories of good times with your mother. Remembering to thank loved ones while they are with us, make us feel better to remember them when they are gone. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 26, 2015:

Patricia, thanks for your encouragement . . . and always, for the angels. The HOTD award gave a boost to my day, and I am so grateful.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 26, 2015:

Thank you, Chitrangada. "No happiness can be complete unless . . . I believe that. Hope you enjoy the day!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 26, 2015:

Barb, Happy Thanksgiving to you! Sure our family members deserve some specific thanks. Hope your family is having a great celebration today.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on November 26, 2015:

Congrats on HOTD Dora! I thank God for you and your positive messages to society! HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2015!

Angela from Colorado on November 26, 2015:

Happy Thanksgiving MsDora! This hub is wonderful! It has set the tone for my day and will make our gathering more special thanks to your great ideas :-)

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on November 26, 2015:

Dora, congrats on the HOTD! This was so beautiful and meaningful, especially today, to give thanks to loved ones who are with us and who's passed on. This is my 2nd Thanksgiving without my mother, since she passed away in March 2014. God bless you! Happy thanksgiving!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 26, 2015:

Happy Thanksgiving, MsDora and Congrats on HOTD...this is a lovely way to begin this special have expressed so well the loveliness of this celebratory day ....

Angels are once again on the way to you ps

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 26, 2015:

Congratulations for the HOTD!

Excellent hub and very well emphasized. I love this tradition and idea of Thanksgiving day. It is so important to thank the Almighty and the loved ones who have contributed in making us what we are or what we have achieved in life. No happiness can be complete unless it is shared with family and friends who stand by us in our good as well as difficult days.

Happy Thanksgiving day to you!

Barbara Radisavljevic from Paso Robles, CA on November 25, 2015:

Great minds must think alike. I just wrote a short blog on the same theme, but you have been much more specific and made it easier for people to prepare to thank those they love. I hope many families will put his into practice.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 21, 2015:

That's a great tradition, MsLizzy. Our loved ones have left the mark on the family; and it's gracious to remember all that they meant and still mean to us.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on November 20, 2015:

What great ideas, Ms Dora!

We are not a religious family, though we do go around the table, and each person says something for which they are thankful, but we don't mention any deities.

But we do have a tradition which I began a few years back. We set an empty place at the table, with a place card reading, "This place is set in honor and in memory of those no longer with us."

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 20, 2015:

Ahsan, so sorry I missed your remark. That was not deliberate. Thank you for your kind feedback.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 20, 2015:

True, true, Peg. Happy 2015 Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on November 20, 2015:

This timely reminder is great year-round. Your ideas for appreciating the family and guests at the Thanksgiving holiday are wonderful. We have so much to be thankful for.

Ahsan MAsoodani from hyderabad pakistan on December 31, 2014:

Oh mam wao nice work

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 25, 2014:

Giopski, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comment.

giopski from Oakland, California on November 25, 2014:

Hi there Dora. This is a very wonderful article for thanksgiving. Patience is a virtue that needs constant practice especially among family members. It is also a "gift" we can give to people shunning arrogance by giving way for growth. Thanks for this article

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 24, 2014:

Thanks, Mothers, for reading, voting and sharing. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

mothersofnations on November 24, 2014:

These are wonderful and thought-provoking. And as you think through, it really does remind you of other reasons to be grateful for those who are placed around you. You remember things you may not have considered at the time. Wonderful article full of love and gratitude!

Voted up and shared. God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 19, 2014:

Bill, family members may not hold it against you when you neglect to tell them thanks; it just shows thoughtfulness when you remember to do it. Yes, even here in our HubFamily, it means so much to receive thanks. Thank you for reminding me of that. I appreciate you.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on November 17, 2014:


May I give thanks for, and to you for this wonderful hub. Truly this needed to be addressed, and you did it so wonderfully. I know I need to be more thankful for who and what I have. Thanks again!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 17, 2014:

Rachel, what a beautiful way to celebrate with your family when you're not together. This is a good example for all of us. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to you, your children and their children.

Rachael O'Halloran from United States on November 16, 2014:

When I look at some families, I see that Thanksgiving is often a holiday that gets treated as unimportant - just a holiday on the way to Christmas.

In our house, it is a big deal. However, this year my husband Joe and I will be away from 4 of our 5 adult children and their families for the first time in many years due to circumstances beyond our control. It has been a very trying year for Joe and I, and they have been so supportive to us. So I decided that we would make DVD's for each child and send them through the mail. Each DVD speaks to each individual child (and their families) to tell them how much we appreciate them, and how thankful we are that they are not only our children, but have become fine successful adults raising wonderful children.

We can't "be" there with them, but the DVD will put us there in spirit. I loved this article and you always have good counsel to share with us. Thank you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 10, 2014:

Teaches, thanks for affirming the power of thanks. Those close to us deserve it the most.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 10, 2014:

Manatita, what a beautiful comment! I appreciate you.

Dianna Mendez on November 09, 2014:

This is a great reminder of how our words can make the difference to someone. I hope people do take your advice to thank those that have meant something to them this year and to remember all the blessings they have received.

manatita44 from london on November 09, 2014:

A real traditional woman. Full of loyal and loving ideas based on Faith and moral goodness. Thanksgiving and gratitude ... pretty impressive ones.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 06, 2014:

Denise, I appreciate your affirmation. I know how well you empower families in various areas. Thank you.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on November 06, 2014:

This is a very important message, Dora. So often we remember to thank God for our families, but we forget to thank them personally. It is easy to take those that we live with for granted. We are benefited greatly each day by the little things people do to make our lives run smoothly. I like your note that giving thanks is an empowering action that lets our families know how important they are in our lives. Well said!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 05, 2014:

Carol, you're welcome. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Success In Life from U.S. on November 04, 2014:

Thank you, for sharing what the Holidays should mean to us family, and friends.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 04, 2014:

Thanks Marie. The family is always top priority and should be the same in our Thanksgiving.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on November 04, 2014:

An especially beautiful hub, Dora.

The family nucleus is so important, but seems to have been put on the back burner in today's urban society. This hub is an important reminder about values.

Voted Up, Awesome, and Beautiful! Sharing on Google-Plus and Facebook.


Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 04, 2014:

Nadine, US residents are certainly blessed. In the comments so far, readers from England, Australia, Croatia in addition to you from South Africa wish they had this Thanksgiving event in their country. As you suggest, we can participate by sharing our sentiments with the USers who are part of our HubPages family! Thanks for your input.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 04, 2014:

Faith, thank you for your comment and your blessing. The best to you and your family also, especially at Thanksgiving.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 04, 2014:

Michael, good to hear from you. I know what you mean about being thankful at all times when we see a blessing in every gift or deed someone does to fill our need. When I am in the US I enjoy Thanksgiving Day with the same enthusiasm as you do. Thanks for your input.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on November 04, 2014:

What a wonderful idea this special day is for many people in the USA. We in South Africa do not have a Thankgiving day celebration but after reading your post I wish it was here. We have no family in SA but I'm very thank full for my global family, including here on hubpages.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on November 03, 2014:

Such a beautiful message of remembering to give thanks for our precious family and, hopefully, not just once a year, but each day. When families gather it is always a lovely blessings to be together, especially at those special times when all are able to be present. We can all laugh and remember.

Beautiful! Voted up ++++ tweeting and pinning

God bless you and your family, MsDora.

Michael-Milec on November 03, 2014:

Signifcant in details to thank family members on this special occasion, The Thanksgiving Day. How blessed a Nation / Country to set apart one day of the working week for THANKS- giving. It was fresh and enthusiastic idea to practice " thanksgiving day" here , unknown in birth country / culture. Being used to live in scarcity, we were prone to "thank you" everyone for everything every time. It is great practice to live by. Often leads to more meaningful conversation of Thanksgiving toward the Giver of All good things.

Voted beautiful and interesting

God bless you MsDora.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Dr. Bill, you mentioned the best part of the gathering--the stories. For those, we will be forever grateful. Thanks for your input, and Happy Holidays to you, too.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Sheila, we can celebrate family on our own Thanksgiving Days. My children and I have done that before. Enjoy your family gathering whenever it happens.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Musu, there's another advantage/blessing. Thanks for your input.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Ologsinquito, thanks for putting it that way. We can all find ways to do it.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Sally, we can find creative ways to say thank you to distant relatives. By whatever means they receive it, they will appreciate it. Thanks for sharing and thanks for your kind sentiments.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Eugene, you may even thank your son that you didn't have to get a turkey on his account. Enjoy him on Thanksgiving!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Tillson, thanks for your very kind comment. It is so easy to take the regular folks for granted.

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on November 03, 2014:

Thank you, MsDora, for reminding each of us! And, while you are gathered with family, do not forget to get the folks talking about family stories from earlier days. The young folks need to hear the old family stories, and the older folks enjoy hearing, and sharing, them, again. Happy holidays to each and all! ;-)

sheilamyers on November 03, 2014:

This is such a wonderful idea! I know we should do this every day of the year, but we tend to let it slide by. I probably won't be spending Thanksgiving with my family; however, I'll remember to thank them for something every time I see them or talk to them.

Musu Bangura from Nation's Capital on November 03, 2014:

This is a beautiful message. It helps to heal old wounds and rebuild relationships among family members that may have been lost over the years...that is definitely something to be thankful for!

ologsinquito from USA on November 03, 2014:

How beautiful. We have so much to be thankful for. Everybody reading this is alive, has electricity and computer access.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on November 03, 2014:

Thanksgiving is not celebrated here but Christmas will have to suffice - though sadly I don't have any immediate family living here with me but I will be thinking of them, in heart, even if I cannot say,thank you, face to face. You are a very good example to me of how life should really be lived.

Eugene Hyland Maze from Santa Clarita on November 03, 2014:

And a Happy Thanksgiving to you! Excellently done! I am sure that sentiment will inspire me when I celebrate Thanksgiving with my son, the vegetarian! Hee! Hee!

Mary Craig from New York on November 03, 2014:

A wonderful reminder as Thanksgiving approaches. You have beautifully pointed out the simple thank you's that are not only beautiful but important and rewarding. God bless.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Eric, your family members will be blessed to receive your notes, I'm sure. A great Thanksgiving in store for you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

RTalloni, thanks for your affirmation! I appreciate your comment.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 03, 2014:

Well young lady you sure inspired me. I will not even wait for thanksgiving time. I will start today within my family. I will give out some of my handwritten thank you poems and prose and make more. Thank you!

RTalloni on November 03, 2014:

Just a lovely post! Saying thank you to family members is certainly out of fashion, but that does not mean it isn't right to do so. While any time is a good time, taking advantage of this time of year to do so is to not miss a wonderful opportunity!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

DDE, the American Thanksgiving is a wonderful experience of togetherness and gratitude. I miss it too. Thanks for your comment.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 03, 2014:

Greatly approached! I would love to experience this time of year with an American family sounds so grateful.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

You're welcome, Frank and Happy Thanksgiving to you and all.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Flourish, thanks for your kind comment. I always enjoy the wishful accolades from my readers.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Bill, the simplest things we forget the most. Thanks for your comment.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Poetryman, thanks for your comment and for noticing the standing--a positive posture.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Jodah, thanks for sharing. You're not alone without an American-type Thanksgiving; feel free to make your own or at Christmastime. I appreciate you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Annart, I appreciate your kine comment. Really, this should also be good at Christmastime or whenever family meet. Thanks for sharing that observation.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on November 02, 2014:

and I thank you too MsDora for sharing useful, family orientated, and easy to read.. and relate to hubs... bless you

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 02, 2014:

What beautiful sentiments and examples you provide here, MsDora! Voted up and more and sharing. I hope this is selected for HOTD, as it deserves it.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 02, 2014:

Isn't it interesting, Dora, that so many of us forget this very simple thank our loved ones? What a great reminder for us all. Thank you my friend.

poetryman6969 on November 02, 2014:

Lot of standing going on! Thanks for the reminder of what we need to be thankful for. Be blessed!

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on November 02, 2014:

What a beautiful message MsDora. It would be nice if we could thank our family members more often, maybe at least once a week, but I think Thanksgiving is a good opportunity to make sure you do. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in this country, so I guess Christmas Day will have to suffice. Great hub. Love Norman Rockwell paintings too.

Ann Carr from SW England on November 02, 2014:

This is such a beautiful, gentle hub, full of wisdom and kindness. We all need reminders of such things. We all forget to thank those who help us the most, who are our nearest and dearest, not because we take them for granted but because we are busy, forgetful and more.

We don't have Thanksgiving here in Britain but it's the sort of thing we can easily do at Christmas or indeed at any time of year when we have a family get-together.

It's easy to moan or complain but we should all make a special effort to thank and to make others feel special.

Thank you for pointing this out so well and so beautifully.


Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 02, 2014:

Thanks, Word. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving what ever mode you're in.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 02, 2014:

Lori, what a sweet comment! I appreciate you and will strive to deserve your comment. Thank you and much love to you, too.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on November 02, 2014:

Thank you MsDora, I guess by Thanksgiving I'll either be in thank you mode or you're welcome mode. However, this is a wonderful idea. A great reminder of how Thanksgiving should really be.

Lori Colbo from United States on November 02, 2014:

Dora, I love your heart. THANK YOU for being you. The Lord did well when he knit you together in your mother's womb, presented you to the world, and developed your tender heart and virtuous character. Big love to you sister. I thank the Lord for you.