When I was little, we would always gather at my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. My aunt would roast the turkey at her house, and she’d make two different kinds of stuffing: one with sausage, and one without. My mother was in charge of making mashed turnips (which I disliked as a child and still don’t like very much!). I remember her spending a long time in the morning peeling and slicing the unwieldy roots while my brothers and I would watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My great-grandmother made a gelatin and fruit concoction that she called Judge Peter’s Pudding; my grandmother continued to make it for every holiday after Great-Grammie died (and she swears that a man named Judge Peter personally gave her the recipe, but Google says otherwise).
Chances are, you can think back to your childhood and remember special Thanksgiving traditions, too! For most of us, these are warm, fuzzy feelings filled with family and warmth and delicious smells and tastes. And one day, our kids will have these very same strong memories of Thanksgivings past, along with traditions to pass on to their own children.
My family lives far away from our extended family now, so unless we’re traveling, we don’t get to see them on the holidays. Still, we do have a few Thanksgiving traditions that we have worked to keep up over the years:
- We put up a Thanksgiving tree! In our case, it consists of scrapbook-page leaves decorating one of our walls. Everyone (family member and visitor) is invited to write down some things that they’re thankful for and tape them to the tree throughout the month of November.
- We have special foods that we always serve on Thanksgiving. These include traditional foods like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and corn, of course. We also always make deviled eggs, put out a tray of different types of olives, and mix pearl onions into our peas (this last one is a throwback from my childhood Turkey Days).
- The kids always watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We all get a kick out of the floats and like watching the entertainment.
- We almost always have visitors! Some years, we have an exchange student staying with us, which is very special, because as Thanksgiving is an American holiday, it’s their first time celebrating. Sometimes we have family visiting from up north, and sometimes we have a friend come for the meal. And a few times, it’s been a mix of all of the above!
Some families enjoy putting up their Christmas trees after Thanksgiving dinner. And many people get dressed in the evening to get a head start on Black Friday sales! Other traditions may be watching seasonal movies, starting to play seasonal music, volunteering at a homeless shelter or nursing home, and going for a family hike in the afternoon. No matter what your traditions are, it’s fun to start some and to continue them throughout the years. Your kids will love looking back on these memories when they’re adults!
What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?