Every family has holiday traditions that we hold near and dear to our hearts. They’re sweet memories that we look forward to recreating, and sharing with others every year for generations to come.
But as busy as the holiday season gets, it can be easy to let traditions slip by simply because there is just not enough time!
How often do we get caught up in the craziness of the holidays without taking the time to slow down and refocus our hearts on the things that are important? I mean, that’s really what holiday traditions are all about!
Seven years ago, author Amy Latta found her family in this same predicament. Getting bogged down by the busyness of the season, and wanting to teach her son Noah, then 3, about gratitude and Thanksgiving.
She came up with the idea of using a pumpkin as a place to write down the things her family was thankful for, and simply called it, the Thankful Pumpkin. It’s a tradition every family needs in their lives this holiday season.
“At meals, we were playing the ‘thankful game,’ where we would take turns going around the table and saying things we were grateful for, and I thought it would be fun for [Noah] — and for all of us — to physically see just how many blessings that added up to,” Latta told TODAY Parents.
They had recently visited a pumpkin patch near their home in Hampstead, Maryland, and brought home several pumpkins. Latta grabbed one and began marking down the things they were grateful for with permanent marker.
And so the Thankful Pumpkin was born.
“It was a great visual reminder of how blessed we are, and he loved watching the pumpkin fill up as we added to it every day,” she said.
Every year for the past seven years, they’ve taken photos of their Thankful Pumpkin. And every year, they sit together as a family and flip through the photos, laughing about some of the different things that have made it onto their pumpkins.
Last October, Latta’s family adopted adopted an 11-year-old boy from Chengdu, China. Her new son, Nathan, get here just in time to take part in the family’s Thankful Pumpkin tradition, and it was a year they will never forget.
“When we got home from China and started our pumpkin, we explained the activity to him and he was excited to participate,” said Latta. “At the time, he spoke very little English, so he wrote the Chinese characters for mama, baba (daddy), didi (little brother), and jiating (family). It was our first bi-lingual pumpkin and it was so beautiful.
“It touched my heart so much, and all of us certainly had many extra things to be thankful for last fall as we started life as a family of four,” said Latta
Latta shared the Thankful Pumpkin on her blog, Amy Latta Creations, in an effort to help other busy parents find a simple and meaningful tradition to do with their kids during the busy holiday season.
In the years since, Latta has heard from families across the country, and around the world, sharing their experiences incorporating the Thankful Pumpkin into their holiday routine.
“My favorite thing is when people send photos of the pumpkins they created, filled with all kinds of wonderful things!” she said.