A mother started the tradition as a way to teach her son the meaning of thanksgiving.
The holiday season is all about family traditions and spending time with your loved ones. Most families have unique traditions of their own and author Amy Latta was inspired to make one herself when her son was three. She started using a pumpkin as a place to write down everything she is grateful for. Through this activity, she hoped to teach her son Noah what Thanksgiving means without all the craziness that usually surrounds holidays, reports TODAY. Little did she know, her idea would go on to inspire many others across the world.
Started our Thankful Pumpkin!!! Meredith is thankful for her teacher. Natalie is thankful for the number 3. Brian is thankful for daughters. I’m thankful for good books. 🧡 pic.twitter.com/o0BeyWDVWa— Patti Fallon Zale (@BunnyNala) November 2, 2022
Speaking of how the tradition came to be, Latta explained that her family was playing a "thankful game" during meals, where they go around the table "saying things we were grateful for." This gave her the thought that it would be fun for her and everyone else to physically see "just how many blessings that added up to." Latta had the perfect canvas for the idea as she had brought several pumpkins during a small trip she took with Noah to a pumpkin patch in Hampstead, Maryland.
She grabbed one of those pumpkins and began writing things they were thankful for on it using a permanent marker. She said, "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." It has since become a fun and insightful tradition for the family and they now go over images of their Thankful Pumpkins from over the years and laugh about some of the things that appeared on the pumpkins. Latta wrote about the practice on her blog, Amy Latta Creations, in 2012 and it went viral among parents looking for quiet ways to celebrate the holiday.
She said, "I was excited to get the project out there because it is so simple and requires no special skills or materials. Literally, anyone can do it, and I was excited to think about other families taking time to focus on gratitude." Over the years, Latta has heard from families all around the world who have appreciated adding the Thankful Pumpkin into their yearly holiday rituals. She said, "My favorite thing is when people send photos of the pumpkins they created, filled with all kinds of wonderful things!"
Although commenters occasionally criticize Latta's pumpkins, pointing out that words like "Elmo" and "Starbucks" appear before "Grammy and Poppy," Latta says that these people are missing the point. She said, "It's not an ordered list just something fun where we write things down as they come to mind. I promise; we're most grateful for the people in our lives."
Latta's family made a particularly special Thankful Pumpkin last year since it was the first year they celebrated with their new son, Nathan, 11, whom they adopted from Chengdu, China. Latta said, "When we got home from China and started our pumpkin, we explained the activity to him and he was excited to participate. 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 as we started life as a family of four," She added.