I have been hearing a lot of whining about Thanksgiving. People don't like the food their family prepares. Or they don't like the hellish travel. But mostly, they don't like to spend time with their family members.
It has all become one big bloated food fest, where people gather for a few miserable hours, stuff themselves, nod off in front of a football game, then pack up to face the horrible holiday traffic on the way home.
Super Suebob is here to rescue your holiday from total drudgery and meaninglessness. I have a few suggestions on how to put some Thanks back into Thanksgiving.
For the repressed and WASPy among us (like my family): Tape a big sheet of butcher paper on the fridge. Butcher paper because it does not bleed through. Or regular thick paper if that is all you can find. Write "What We Are Thankful For 2006" at the top, and let people write or draw what they are thankful for as they wander into the kitchen to get drinks or snacks. You can save these and show them in future years.
Slightly more interactive: Get some pieces of paper or cards. Have people write or draw what they are thankful for. Take their picture as they hold up the signs. Make a flickr set. Share.
To keep the kiddos out of your hair, if you trust them with the digital camera: assign them to take photos of what they are thankful for. Upload the photos between dinner and dessert. Make a digital slide show.
And if you aren't a shy bunch and don't mind talking to each other: Place five kernels of dried corn on one side of each plate. If you can't find dried corn, use popcorn. This is to remind us that, during the first winter when they were dumbasses, the pilgrims got down to the point where they had only 5 corn kernels a person to eat. During the meal, go around the table, having people hold one kernel and say one thing they are thankful for. Go around five times, once for each kernel, so people will have given thanks for five things.
I hope this helps. I hate to think of everyone out there miserable, dragging themselves through a hated holiday. I think a little meaning can go a long way.