It seems as if every family has its own version of Thanksgiving traditions for families. From watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade to snapping the wishbone, family traditions are an important part of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Traditions for Families
What are your Thanksgiving traditions for families? Does your family fly in from all around the country to celebrate the third Thursday in November (in America) or the second Monday in October (Canadian Thanksgiving?) Some people celebrate by finding special ways to give thanks for the little things. Others celebrate with food or family gatherings.
My family isn’t big on travel at any time of the year, so we rarely journey further than our own kitchens for the big Thanksgiving feast. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without our traditional foods, however: a big turkey stuffed with my husband’s ancestral Italian spinach stuffing recipe, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, and pumpkin pie for dessert.
In my family of origin, our Thanksgiving traditions included the turkey, of course, but with baked potatoes and onion dip served in an old sugar bowl we called the bell jar because of its shape. My sister’s homemade crescent rolls were the centerpiece of the table; I still haven’t figured out how she manages to bake such light, fluffy rolls!
And her creamed onions…delicious. My own, using the identical recipe, always come out slightly lumpy. I think the next time I visit her in New Jersey I will ask her to make the creamed onions so I can hover over her should and watch while she cooks.
Dessert included pie but also vanilla ice cream with frozen strawberries made into a light sauce. A bowl of walnuts was always in the center of the table. Cracking walnuts without breaking the half shell was a treat because the half shells became fodder for craft projects later.
These were my traditions growing up. Now, as an adult, Thanksgiving traditions include watching football and a marathon of reading. That may not sound like an exciting Thanksgiving day to most but to me, after a full week of work, it’s a treat to curl up on the sofa with a novel and just relax!
Thanksgiving Traditional: Family-Friendly Traditions to Start
If you’re looking for your own family-friendly Thanksgiving traditions, here’s a list you can choose from for your own family this year. It may take a few. years to build up to a full-fledged tradition.
- “I am thankful for…” the ubiquitous “give thanks” round robin offers a sound family tradition of being thankful. Try it this year. Simply go around the table and ask each family member to say what he or she is thankful for.
- Family movie marathon: Cue up movies that appeal to the average age in the room, sit back, and enjoy!
- Board games after dinner: Board games after dinner offer a fun activity everyone can participate in.
- Church services: A morning church service or mass starts the day off right by recalling the One to whom we really give thanks for everything.
- Craft time: For younger children, bring out the paper and crayons and ask them to draw pictures to decorate the table. Use the pictures as placemats.
- Remember: Bring out the old family photo albums and remember those who have passed away. Share the pictures along with stories to help the next generation remember aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents who have passed on.
- Fall walk: Walk off the turkey and pumpkin by with a family walk through the crisp autumn leaves.
Football, Macy’s parades, turkey…it’s all part of family traditions this Thanksgiving. Make your own traditions or rekindle treasured family traditions this Thanksgiving.
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.