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  • Writer's pictureCaroline

Thanksgiving Traditions with Carendylyn and Kristin

I joke that I am THIIISSSSS close (my fingers are literally touching) to putting up the Christmas tree and calling it a year. But I don't want to overlook Thanksgiving. It's not just Turkey Day. And this year, I think we need a day of thanks in hard, confusing circumstances more than ever.

Over the past few months, I have been blessed to get to know these two sisters in Christ over Zoom. (One plus of 2020: this introvert is more comfortable on video calls!)

Carendylyn and Kristin have encouraged me in many ways. But the biggest has been helping me balance my personal writing with my quickly-growing business tendencies, reminding me how important it is to root our hearts as writers in Christ and His Word. So excited for them to share their Thanksgiving thoughts and traditions here!

What is your favorite thing about Thanksgiving? Why is this holiday important to you this year?

Carendylyn: EVERYTHING. From start to finish, my level of excitement for Thanksgiving is always a 20 on a scale of 1 to 10. I simply love the anticipation of gathering with family. Everyone is almost always in a good mood, so it makes for a great gathering.

If we are traveling, I love all the road trip feels (snacks, coffee from Buc-cees, a good playlist – check, check, check). The anticipation of guest arriving (pre-pandemic, of course); the frenzy in the kitchen to do all the finishing touches; and the never-ending, “Let’s warm this up again,” seems chaotic, but it is all worth it.

Kristin: Not just the food, LOL, but the family time. My immediate family and then outside of that. Even though we see one another often it's something special about the holiday. It's important to me because it's a point in the year where you have to pause and reflect on the goodness of God. Before we eat, we each give thanks for something. Weve done this since my oldest was little. This year, it's even more special, because of all the things in the world that have been going on, we are ever so grateful to be here, with jobs, food on the table, no lack in things and with each other.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions as a family?

Kristin: Besides our thankings before dinner, we love cooking together, (each of us makes a dessert!), playing board games, and watching the week of special Hallmark movies. Also, football is a must that I normally don't watch, except on Thanksgiving. Also, but maybe not this year, the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. When my girls were younger, we would also do a fall leaf hunt to find as many different leaves as we could. Who am I kidding, we still do that! Haha! Yesterday we got under a tree to see who could catch the most falling leaves. That was fun. We've also glued leaves on paper to make shapes, animals, etc.

Carendylyn: This sounds cliché, but we always take time before dinner (actually a late lunch) to bless the food, but to also give thanks. One Thanksgiving, we gathered in our circle and everyone said what they were thankful for. Our family is huge and insert some tears of thanks, we had to warm the food yet again. Games are a must! Phase 10, dominos, and spades are the top games that are played. For the little ones, arts and crafts are a must; the Mommas collaborate ahead of time to bring the necessary supplies. Homemade placemats are a hit.

Filing those ideas away to do with my boys, for sure! What are some ways you try to instill thankfulness in your children year-round?

Kristin: Being a mom is busy, and I can forget a lot of things. Every day I set an alarm on my phone 3x a day, morning, noon and night, that says 'Give thanks'. We hold hands and each say something that we are thankful for. Out of the 3 times the alarm goes off, we either do it together, alone or just the girls. We also do not buy our girls extra things throughout the year. They've become extremely grateful to receive the limited amount of gifts for their birthdays and Christmas. This has shown them the value of a dollar and hard work. They really take care of what they receive and use it until it wears out. That tells me they are grateful and deserving of more. Just like Jesus does, right? As we are faithful in little, we will be faithful in much.

Carendylyn: It first starts with us. I try to be very cognizant of how I react to certain situations, because my children are always watching. If I react to something with an ungrateful heart, this can spillover into their behavior.

Also, I encourage them to appreciate what they have and help them understand that many friends their age are not as fortunate. We also do not indulge them with a lot of tangible items. I think this helps with staying humble.

One phrase my middle child picked up from her pre-K teacher is, “You get what you get and be thankful for it.” Occasionally, I’ll say the first part and they respond in unison, “and be thankful for it!”

Just for fun, what's your family favorite Thanksgiving food?

Carendylyn: I LOVE sweet potatoes! My Granny can make an amazing sweet potato casserole, which I have not quite mastered. Macaroni and cheese is always a winner. One year I used an Emeril recipe for a 7-cheese macaroni casserole. I spent a lot of money on cheeses I had never heard of. It was good, not great (no offense, Emeril). Very rich in taste. The best tip I have received for macaroni and cheese is to use Cheez Whiz as an enhancement. My recommendation is to take any recipe and add Cheez Whiz to the cheese sauce as you see fit. You will be amazed.

Kristin: I make the mixed greens every year. I actually got a request from my brother-in-law last month for his birthday after my sister burnt them. LOL! That's what everyone looks forward to, since I only make it on Thanksgiving. I don't really have a recipe, I kinda just throw everything in a pot and hope for the best. 😆

Last but not least, do you have any thoughts on practicing daily thankfulness? Anything that has helped you or changed your thinking on being more grateful?

Kristin: When I worry, I give thanks, when I'm anxious, I give thanks, when I'm sad, I give thanks, when I want to complain, I give thanks, when I'm happy, I give thanks. Every emotion, feeling, longing, I give thanks. It keeps me sane, keeps me from feeling "all the things" that keep me from Christ. Thankfulness is humbling and I want to live everyday dying to myself with a grateful heart for all God has done and given me. Reminders, reading the word and showing an example to my girls keeps thankfulness at the front of my mind.

Carendylyn: Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts was an eye opener. Her writing in this book was profound, and it has helped me to be more mindful of thankfulness every single day. In February I started my journey of writing one thousand gifts and the 1000 Gifts Bible study. I am almost to 500 as I type this. It has not been as easy as I thought it was going to be. Mind you, we have one thousand gifts in each day; however, I feel the process gently forces you to think, dig deeper, and to honor the journey of giving thanks.

Wow, love that! Thanks so much for sharing!

I echo that if you haven't read 1,000 Gifts yet, you need to ASAP. Click here!


About Carendylyn Watson:

Wife, mom of 3, and founder of Conversations with Mommies. I am on a mission of helping mommy-wives serve God and family with grace, compassion, patience, and love. I'm an introvert at my core, and I love real books, classic 1940s movies, and snowy mountain cabins.

Visit her website here!

Follow her on Instagram here!


About Kristin:

Hi, I’m Kristin. I’m a believer in Christ Jesus, a wife to Lester, a mother to our two beautiful girls. By day I take care of all things home, homeschool our daughters, attempt to live a healthy life and dabble in blogging. My goal is to give glory to God and allow Him to reach one person reading these words. I love to share my ups and downs of being a mother to daughters; some days are hard, some days are days I wish would never end. But through them all, I find the Lord leading me, teaching me and giving me grace daily so that I can steward my girls in His ways. Join me as I share what God has placed on my heart and given me to teach my daughters.

Visit her website here!

Follow her brand-new Instagram here!

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