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Top 6 Thanksgiving Movies for Families

By Edited Jul 13, 2016 1 4

Continue the tradition of “Family Movie Night” with these top 6 Thanksgiving movies

What comes to mind when you think about Thanksgiving? The smell of turkey roasting in the oven? The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade? A house full of noisy family gathering around the table?

Many of us have favorite Halloween programs that we remember fondly from our childhoods, like It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. And who doesn’t remember looking forward to all of the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials that aired all during the month of December? I vividly remember circling them in the TV Guide so I would not forget to watch them!

But do you have a favorite Thanksgiving movie that you looked forward to watching?

There are many wonderful movies with a Thanksgiving theme that will both charm and delight your family. They will make perfect viewing during the month of November, between your Halloween and Christmas viewing.

Here are the top 6 Thanksgiving movies for your family and you to enjoy.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

Top 6 Thanksgiving Movies A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

If you were a child growing up in the 1970’s and had a television, you can remember the excitement of watching the Peanuts gang during the holiday season. After all, they only aired once and there were no VHS tapes, DVRs to record these shows so we could watch them at a later date.

While many of us can remember the Peanuts Halloween and Christmas specials, this Thanksgiving movie is also a Charlie Brown and friends classic.

Poor Charlie Brown is chosen to host the traditional Thanksgiving feast for his friends who have no where to go, even though he already has plans to go to his Grandma’s. Snoopy and Woodstock help him out, and of course, all of the Peanuts gang reflect on the true meaning of the holiday and what it means to be thankful.

Molly’s Pilgrim (1985)

Top 6 Thanksgiving Movies Molly's Pilgrim

This movie is based on one of my favorite children’s books, Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen. I taught this book to my third grade class every year during the month of November, and then to my second graders whom I taught in my synagogue’s Sunday School.

While the book takes place in upstate New York in the early 1900’s, the movie takes place in modern times. The plot, however, remains the same.

Molly and her family, who are Jewish, emigrate to America from Russia to escape religious persecution. Because she is unlike her classmates, Molly is teased in school for her accent, her clothing, and for other differences she has with her American peers. She is laughed at when does not know what the American Thanksgiving is all about. But Molly’s mother understands in a way that teaches Molly, her teacher and her classmates all about modern day Pilgrims.

This movie is the perfect catalyst for discussing bullying, prejudice and how to stand up and treat others.



An Anti-Bullying Message for Children of All Ages

Molly's Pilgrim
Amazon Price: $29.99 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 20, 2016)
This story is an excellent springboard for bullying discussions in school and at home.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (Hallmark 2008)

Top 6 Thanksgiving MoviesAn Old Fashioned Thanksgiving

Hallmark is well-known for many things, one of them being it’s yearly television specials. An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, based on Louisa May Alcott’s short story, is about a poor widow who is estranged from her wealthy mother. When her daughter sends a letter to her long-lost grandmother, the tale about what the Thanksgiving holiday is all about unfolds. The theme of family and reconciliation is a heartwarming one for viewers, and it is a very family friendly movie.


A Family Thanksgiving (2010)

Top 6 Thanksgiving Movies A Family Thanksgiving


A Family Thanksgiving is another Hallmark Hall of Fame holiday special. This one is about a workaholic woman who seems to forget everything and everyone on her way to the top of her law firm.

When an unknown stranger sprinkles a bit of magic to this wealthy and successful attorney, she sees what life could have offered her if she made different choices.

The Holiday Treasure (1973)


Top 6 Thanksgiving Movies The Holiday Treasure

The Holiday Treasure is another movie that is a flashback to my 1970’s childhood. It is the sequel to The House Without a Christmas Tree, and has the same cast of characters reprising their roles. In this movie, which set in Nebraska in the late 1940’s, Addie befriends a lonely and bitter old man and together they learn about the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday.

This is another family-friendly movie that will be loved by all.

Heartwarming and Sentimental

Holiday Treasure [VHS]
Amazon Price: $49.95 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 20, 2016)
Children of the 1970's will remember this classic fondly.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Top 6 Thanksgiving Movies Planes, Trains and Automobiles

This classic comedy, which also has a touch of drama, stars Steve Martin and the late John Candy. Steve Martin’s character is desperately trying to get home for Thanksgiving to be with his family, whether it is by plane, train or automobile. He encounter’s John Candy’s character, who goes along for the ride. In his attempts to get rid of him, Steve Martin realizes at the end what a nice, but lonely guy his companion really is.

This Thanksgiving movie is for families with older children, as there is cursing in it and some adult situations that are not appropriate for younger children.

These top 6 Thanksgiving movies will soon become family favorites.



Nov 20, 2012 9:50am
Excellent list of movies! I have not seen "Molly 19s Pilgrim," but I will be looking for it this year. Thumbs Up!
Nov 21, 2012 5:07pm
Thank you!
Nov 20, 2012 8:26pm
Great list of movies. I grew up in Europe and I didn't know that a "movie night" on Thanksgiving was a big thing. Looking forward to it.

Thumbs Up!
Nov 21, 2012 5:08pm
Football is big TV viewing on Thanksgiving, but there are movies to be watched leading up to it. Thanks for reading!
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