Tuesday, November 27, 2018

"Remember Me"-Themed Thanksgiving


I hosted Thanksgiving for our family this year.  The last (and the first) time I hosted was five years ago when Guy was baptized.  So it was time.  My children were so excited to host.  They love, like I do, planning parties and being creative and planning special things for their loved ones.  So this was a really fun family thing to do together.  But with Steve working on finishing the basement, and two little babies that we didn't have five years ago, this was a major undertaking which took a lot of work and teamwork!

To accomplish this, I started planning a month and a half ago, and we spent several Saturdays as work days working in shifts...either helping Mom in the kitchen or helping Dad in the basement.  In the end, we got it done, and the spirit helped our inspired ideas come to life.

Right after Halloween this year, Honor (my kindergartner) watched Coco in school.  We own the movie, so that kicked off a Coco obsession where she wanted to watch the movie every day after school.  Soon, she was drawing all of the characters from the movie and singing along to the soundtrack.  

If you haven't seen the movie, it's about the Day of the Dead where you're supposed to put up photos of your ancestors so that they can come back and visit their living relatives.  There's more to the movie and the holiday, but that's the gist!

So, in the movie, they sing a song called "Remember Me" which I borrowed for the theme of our family Thanksgiving.

We put up a banner that read "Remember Me" and put up photos of many relatives who have passed on.

I told my family that the first night (Wednesday) would be a coco party.  When they assumed I meant hot cocoa, I just went with that, because we wanted it to be a total surprise. But we did ask them before the event to bring a photo or an item that reminded them of a favorite relative or ancestor and to be prepared to share a story about them or why they want to honor them.

That night, after a taco dinner provided by my sister-in-law, we had our Coco Party which involved everyone receiving a flowered headband that we made beforehand, Honor singing "Remember Me", and then the children watching the movie Coco together.

The next day, Thanksgiving morning, we had a family photo/artifact scavenger hunt.  I had displayed items, photos, and momentos around the house...20 of them.  Family members went around to find all 20 items and write down as much as they could discover about the people in the photo and what was happening.  When everyone found all 20, we sat down and took turns sharing the stories about each person with eachother.  It went really well, and I was pleased that all the kids stayed basically until the very end.   Some items in the hunt included a vest worn by grandpa on his mission in Scotland (we remembered that grandpa used to dress up as "Mr. Von Clean" with a fake mustache and all and check kid's bedrooms for cleanliness!), a clock on the wall set to 9:00 PM which was the designated time for family prayer and when grown children who had left home could call in to participate in that prayer, there was a WWII replica airplane that belonged to a grandpa who flew planes in the war, and a stuffed kitten which sat on grandma's bed when she was sick with cancer, there was Uncle Johnny's cap, a man known for his laughter and the great care he took of my Mom when her father died.  Uncle Johnny took my 4 month old mother to see EVERY store Santa in downtown Cleveland. (There was alost a photo of my mom as a baby on Santa's lap.)  At the time, there were no baby care facilities in men's restrooms, so Uncle Johnny would just pass Mom into the women's restroom and they would diaper her and make a bottle and pass her back to him!  There was a painting of the cabin Steve's family always went to each summer together, also a painting of baby birds done by my Dad's mother, a photo of my great-grandparents with Elder Day, the missionary who brought my family the Gospel of Jesus Christ...and on and on.

Here are some photos of the "Remember Me" scavenger hunt: 

I was really pleased with the spirit that was in my home while we were doing this activity.  I am sure our beloved ancestors and recently-passed relatives were looking on and enjoying seeing us all together remembering them and honoring their memory!

After doing this, I knew that all of our hard work had been worth it.

The rest of the weekend went great.  It was the weekend of game playing.  One game in particular we enjoyed and that I just kind of made up was the bow game.  So here's how it works.  It's a lot like the safety pin game you've maybe played at baby showers.  Each person gets two christmas bows and puts them on their shirt.  Then together you choose a word or several words that are forbidden to say.  We chose "I".  If you hear someone use that word, you can steal their bow.  The person with the most bows at the end wins.  My brother in law was a good sport at this game making it a lot of fun for the kids!  It was really funny and really competitive!

We also had multiple sets of the Bean Game going on at almost all times.  The Bean Game, also called Bohnanza is a card game that someone introduced us to when we were newly weds, and we've I think successfully converted most of our inlaws into loving the game as well.  

For those who didn't like the card game, they played a lot of heads-up (the app version) and cherades:

My kids had a great time with their cousins.

Dinner went off mainly without a hitch, because we cooked a lot of it beforehand, opting instead to focus on quality time with family over the weekend.  (Thanks to my friend who stepped up and offered her crock pots and roasters!)

Thanks to my neighbor loaning us three folding tables, we were able to fit all 24 of us in our dining area and ate buffet-style.  And the other nice thing about having such an open floor-plan is that it's hard to run away when there are dishes to do, and I will say the teens in our party did a great job of stepping up to clean up after dinner.  And my brother-in-laws did an awesome job sweeping after each meal and doing dishes too.  I appreciated that!

After dinner, (I sighed a huge sigh of relief!) and then we made our traditional craft: a Christmas ornament.  Since I picked an ornament with a tree theme, I decided to read one of my favorite Christmas books (of which I have MANY! You can see my favorite Christmas Book Lists for ideas!) called "Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect".  The tutorial for making this ornament was found at the blog 2 Bees in a Pod.  We secured the trees to the bottom of the ornament with a glue gun.  I had Steve put them in with a clamp so all the kids had to do was put the snow inside and secure and tie the bow.  I was all about simplicity this holiday!

I'm skipping things, but basically, we played games, ate more food, and crashed on Thursday night, only to wake up fresh and ready to start anew on Friday morning...making gingerbread houses, which I build beforehand as well.  I wasn't going to do gingerbread houses this year.  It was something I surprised my family with the last time we hosted five years ago, but like I said, I'm busier now and wasn't going to do it, but my sisters asked so I did.  They didn't need to do too much persuading!  Good thing, icing covers all mistakes!

So, interesting things happen in the moment, like doing things as families.  I wasn't planning this, but I did call families up to get their food, and families up to get their candy for decorating and things like that.  This worked really well and kept things calm.  I just thought I'd share that if you're ever planning a similar family gathering.


So that's about it!  Lots of fun family memories were made.  My little Honor and her "twin" cousin basically fell in love with their 18-year old cousin as the next picture attests!  And everyone enjoyed themselves...Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful too.

PS - I never did get a chance to update you guys on what I decided to do with Come Follow Me for our family in 2019, but what I wanted to share with you is that through much fasting, prayer, pondering and listening, I felt the Lord wanted me to drop a few things out of my life to make room for/time to do the important tasks of teaching in the home.  I had taken a big position in the PTO this school year in order to help my children and the school, and it ended up being way more time-consuming and taking me away (mentally) from my at-home children than I thought it would and way more than I wanted it to.  The hard part of receiving this prompting was that it meant I was leaving my friend in the lurch.  So I struggled with obeying the commandment, since I was worried that my friend would stop loving me the same as she did before.  I am still not quite sure how our relationship stands, but I know she is a loving person.  And I will be looking for ways that I can make it up to my friend, but in the end I chose to follow the prompting and leave my pto position.  Since then, I have felt more like I am doing what the Lord really wants me to, and I am sure He's preparing me for greater things that I can't even comprehend and helping me to be there for my family and see things that I could not see when my mind was clouded with busyness.

So that is the long and the short of it!


  1. wow you are impressive with all your organizing skills-what a fantastic family get together!!!

  2. What a terrific idea!! We love the movie Coco and recommend it as a way to get energized about doing Family History Work. Thanks for sharing.

  3. What an inspiring family get together! All of the kids are so blessed that they will have such wonderful family memories!

    I'm sure you will use your free time to bless your families and many others.

    1. Thanks for your friendship and vote of confidence!

  4. We tried doing this type of movie viewing party with family history moments with just my husband and our daughter around the time of dia de los muertos but I love the idea of getting extended family involved and having a themed thanksgiving! Thank you so much for sharing!!!