"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4
Family-Friendly Thanksgiving Films
Thanksgiving is a festive holiday that involves a rich tradition of long get-togethers with family and friends, both old and young. Thanksgiving also focuses on the historic religious roots of our nation, the importance of family and savoring our abundant blessings.
Some families like to sit down together and watch a classic, heartwarming movie after everyone is stuffed with turkey. Good movies with Thanksgiving themes are few and far between, and the older ones may be hard to find, but this article lists some appropriate movies that the whole family can enjoy.
Monumental: In Search of America's National Treasure(2012) - What motivated the Pilgrims to come to America? What formula for success did they discover? More importantly, how can we apply these same foundational truths today? Monumental is a 90-minute documentary that follows Kirk Cameron across Europe and the U.S. as he seeks to discover America’s true “national treasure” – the people, places, and principles that made America the freest, most prosperous and generous nation on earth.
The Blind Side (2010, PG-13) - This feel good drama tells the compelling true story of Michael Oher, a homeless black teenager who is welcomed into the home of a caring Christian family. Michael is never quite sure of his place in this family — until he decides to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. Though there are a couple of unneccessary elements making this movie best for older teens and adults, this wonderful drama is an inspiring movie with overt Christian values.
An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008) – This Hallmark movie is based on a short story by Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women. Widow Mary Bassett and her three children have hit difficult times on their farm, and they can't even afford a turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner, in this ultimately uplifting holiday film.
Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower (2006, PG) – This isn't exactly a movie, but a docu-drama (part documentary and part dramatization) that tells the amazing true story of the historic Pilgrim voyage and their first year in the New World. From their self-imposed exile in Holland and their perilous Atlantic crossing in the Mayflower to unimaginable hardships encountered in their new land, the events are seen largely through the eyes of William Bradford and based primarily on his journals. An excellent 2 1/2-hour production from the History Channel, complete with period costumes and replica vessels.
Spider-Man (2002, PG-13) - Thanksgiving dinner is when Norman Osborn realizes that Peter Parker is Spider-Man when Parker has the injury he gave Spider-Man during their last fight.
Squanto: A Warrior's Tale (1994, PG) – Disney version of the classic Thanksgiving story of Squanto, a young Indian warrior who befriended the Plymouth Pilgrims, as told from his perspective.
Homeward Bound - The Incredible Journey (1993, G) - Two dogs and a cat trek across the wilderness encountering all sorts of adventures along the way (including a run-in with a mean turkey on the ranch where they stayed temporarily), and the three pets finally arrive back home just in time for Thanksgiving.
Avalon (1990, PG) – A family drama spanning several generations, from the arrival of immigrant Sam Krichinsky to a suburb of Baltimore, down through his children and grandchildren. The Thanksgiving holiday plays a crucial role throughout the film. This movie stars 9-year-old Elijah Wood!
Molly's Pilgrim (1985) - A Russian Jewish immigrant girl is given a class assignment to create a doll based on a Thanksgiving character. She makes a Russian immigrant doll because Russian Jews are Pilgrims too, having come to America for religious freedom. Based on the book “Molly's Pilgrim,” by Barbara Cohen.
Hoboken Chicken Emergency (1984) - Mr. and Mrs. Bobowicz ask their son to pick up a bird for Thanksgiving dinner, and he brings home a 266-pound live chicken named Henrietta. Based on the novel by Daniel M. Pinkwater.
Rocky (1976, PG) – This classic story won a Best Picture award. It’s a tough and tender portrait of a loser who becomes a winner in the things that matter. It includes a memorable exchange of lines in which Adrian says to her brother: “Paulie, it’s Thanksgiving. I got a turkey in the oven.” Paulie says, “Oh, a turkey in the oven!” He opens up the oven, grabs the turkey, and throws it out the door. “You want the bird?” he hollers, “Go out in the alley and eat the bird!” But this movie is more for teens and adults.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973) – This classic holiday special with the Peanuts gang is an Emmy-award winning cartoon. Charlie Brown is planning on going to his grandmother's house for Thanksgiving dinner, but then Peppermint Patty and her friends show up. Charlie, Linus, Snoopy and Woodstock concoct a quick feast of popcorn, toast, jellybeans, and pretzels. In the end, all of the kids go to Grandma’s house singing “Over the river and through the woods...” The DVD comes with a 24-min. bonus feature, "The Mayflower Voyagers," which tells the story of how the Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower to America, settled in their new homeland, and celebrated the first Thanksgiving feast – all in a colorful cartoon format featuring Peanuts characters as Pilgrims. This was fairly educational and much more interesting than the main feature!
Mouse on the Mayflower (1969) – This animated fantasy tells the story of a brave little mouse who helped the Pilgrims survive both the dangerous sea voyage and the cold New England winter, while staying on peaceful terms with their Indian neighbors.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – This is technically a Christmas movie, but it’s a great way to kick off the holiday season since it starts out with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Homemade Family Videos
Thanksgiving is a good opportunity to gather the family together to make a video as a gift to send to faraway relatives and friends. You can write an original script in which everyone has a part, or just follow people around like in reality TV. Another option would be to have a talent show in which one person sings, another recites a poem, etc. You might even dress up in costume. It’s a fun and easy way to spend quality family time while sharing the holidays with distant relatives. If you can, edit the footage on your computer, burn it onto a DVD, and design a personalized label for it. Be sure to mail the DVD in a padded envelope so it won’t get broken. You might also want to have a home video party starring your family. We never laugh so hard as when we’re watching our own movies!