This is our first Thanksgiving on our own so Kai and I sat down to figure out what the plan is. It mostly revolved around what foods are our favorites for Thanksgiving dinner and what traditions we wanted to keep from our families and what ones we want to start. A lot of our favorite food and traditions are the same or similar enough that we started talking about Christmas as well.

Since we’ve been married it has been our goal to be more thoughtful about what we spend money on, especially this time of year when it’s so easy to go into debt. So far we’ve really enjoyed giving thoughtful gifts with at least one of them being home/handmade. With the kids we try to give something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. (I can’t take credit for this idea at all, I came across it four years ago when Dex was a baby.)

We’ve tried to be more thoughtful not just in gift giving but in what we choose to spend our money on all year long. For us that means things like making things from scratch, buying local when we can, finding new ways to use things we already have, making do with less. These are things that evolved for both of us from things important to our families.

We both grew up with the idea of being self-sufficient. Kind of a “make do or do without” idea. Being prepared, hard work, thriftiness. We both had really great examples of these things. Both of our grandparents remembered all too well doing without. My family often struggled to make ends meet.

The things I remember most from growing up aren’t things that my parents bought for me. (Although I know they sacrificed often to get things for me.) I remember my mom filling our house with music and decorating for each holiday, special things that came out year after year. Things that when they got broken or damaged, she glued or taped them back together and brought them out again next year. I remember my dad telling stories and cooking pancakes for dinner. I remember my parents being thoughtful in what we did as a family. I know that some of that thoughtfulness was a lack of money. But I didn’t know the difference. To me it was all the more beautiful because it was something they made or time they spent.

Kai and I have been married for seven years. We’ve had good times and bad, sickness and health. We’ve had times when we were well prepared with food storage and a safety net in savings. We’ve had times when we were barely getting by. And we’ve also fallen short and needed more help than we ever thought we’d have to ask for. We’ve been exceptionally blessed by the people in our lives. People who have supported us emotionally, physically, financially. I don’t know what the future holds for us. I don’t dream of being rich or having flashy things. I do hope to have enough. I want to be able to help others.

These are things we want our children to know and grow up learning. Not that we need the biggest and most. But that we need each other. We need to take care of who and what we have and be aware of what we choose to spend our money on. What we choose to support. How we choose to live our lives. How we choose to spend our time. I want our children to know what it’s like to work for what they want and the pride that comes from making something from scratch. The happiness and joy that comes from thinking about what someone else needs and making it for them or with them. Those are the traditions I want to pass down. These are traditions I’m thankful for. And how to make gravy.