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Lifestyle

Thanksgiving Traditions To Continue Or Begin

These Thanksgiving traditions are a great way to celebrate the holidays this year. Enjoy building meaningful memories year after year.

Turkey sitting at the table with family in background

Thanksgiving is not just about merely giving thanks; it’s a celebration of family, friends, food and traditions. And speaking of traditions, what has been your typical tradition for the Thanksgiving holiday? Does your family gather with friends for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner gathering? Maybe you would like to continue that tradition, or start some traditions of your own. Let’s look at Thanksgiving traditions, old and new.

The Place

The week of Thanksgiving is led only by the week of Christmas and New Years as far as the most people traveling is concerned. By far, most of those travelers are going to meet up with family and friends at an agreed upon member’s home. Who is the lucky person, couple or family that is expected to host this gathering? If you’re thinking about beginning a new hosting tradition or tweaking your current location decision, consider the following:

  1. Make age a factor. Has the former host earned the right, in birthdays, to pass on the job to someone younger? After years, and maybe decades, of gathering at Grandma’s, this can be a tradition that is very hard to change. If everyone, including Grandma, agrees that this tradition is still good to go, then don’t change it. Just remember that everyone’s help is expected to pull it off so that Grandma doesn't run out of steam.
  2. Know that size matters. Has the group of family and friends outgrown the capacity of the traditional host’s dining facilities? If so, it might be time to move the Thanksgiving gathering to a member of the group’s home that can accommodate the number of guests.
  3. Spread the joy. If there are members of the group or family that are capable, willing and have the room to host, feel free to begin rotating the gathering place each year. Who says it always has to be at the same place?
  4. Skip the details. A fairly new tradition is skipping the planning, prep and cooking, and meeting at a restaurant for the meal instead. You get the food, fellowship, toasts and all the Thanksgiving dessert you want without all the work beforehand.

The People

A popular newer tradition for Thanksgiving is Friendsgiving. The idea is that a group of friends get together and celebrate just like they would if it was a family gathering. The twist is that they are not family –– just friends. The gathering could be on some day other than Thanksgiving, so it doesn’t interfere with family or other plans, or it can be on Thanksgiving. The meal can be the traditional turkey and all the trimmings, or it can be pizza and beer. What’s important is gathering and giving thanks with those you love — no matter who they are.

The Food

The First Thanksgiving menus were not what we think of today. Turkeys were available, but more than likely not the main entree. It was probably goose and/or duck, along with venison. There were no mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, and no cranberry sauce. There also wasn’t any wheat flour or butter for pie crusts (gasp!). But they did have corn, beans, pumpkins and squash.

About two hundred years later, in the nineteenth century, Sarah Josepha Hale took up the cause to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, it had taken her seventeen years to accomplish. In the meantime, she wrote recipes in Godey’s Lady’s Book, a popular women’s magazine, which laid out her vision for Thanksgiving dinner. We can thank her for the turkey and dressing and many of the other dishes we associate with Thanksgiving.

Perhaps this year, you should consider taking your Thanksgiving food up a notch and experimenting with different recipes and flavors. Who knows? That creative dish that you share with everyone may become the new must-have at each gathering.

The Activities

Each family is different, groups of friends are different, and we all have our traditions. Some people make Thanksgiving decorations with children or relatives every year, and some people sit around after the big meal and make a game plan for Black Friday sales the next day. Want a tradition that makes an impact on the community? Get your family and friends together to volunteer at a food kitchen that serves meals to the less fortunate.

Whatever your traditions are, or are going to be, make this year a Thanksgiving to remember.

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