Most of us have traditions particular to our own families. Here I will offer some of the traditional Thanksgiving practices followed by some of ours. If you have some interesting or meaningful or fun Thanksgiving traditions I would love to hear about it.
Thanksgiving traditions center around two primary activities which are common to most celebrations – family/friends and food. This is the day many look forward to with anticipation of travel or receiving visitors. Most of us have turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes of some kind, corn, and squashes all topped off with pumpkin pie.
While this is a celebration of thanks and the joy of family, for some it’s a time of stress from either perfectionist expectations or miserable family connections. For more than 20 years I was saddened by friends who dreaded the holidays because their family situations often made them miserable. I remember one friend comparing her Thanksgiving to a Jerry Springer show. This broke my heart.
The only family I had was my two daughters and a sister I rarely saw. I would have loved to enjoy the day around a big table with a couple dozen of my closest family and friends, to hear the voices of little ones playing in the background. But it was not meant to be…all of my family was dead. But then there was God. During my journey I found my dad’s family, they weren’t dead. The next year I found my father’s family that I barely knew existed and didn’t know where. I may not be sharing thanksgiving with them this year as they live too far away, but I know they are there and I am not alone.
Thanksgiving Day is often spent giving thanks, day long feasting, watching or attending parades such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. This famous parade ushers in the “official” Christmas season with the first appearance of Santa Claus. I wish retailers would remember that. It seems now the Christmas season precedes Halloween. Afternoons and evenings are filled with sounds of football games and Thanksgiving TV specials such as A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
Now there’s a new trend…Black (Thursday) Friday. Before you know it retailers will up this tradition to Halloween. Starting so early is just too much. Before Christmas even gets here you’re thoroughly sick of it. I don’t want to think about another holiday until I finish the current one. My daughters tried the early Black Friday last Thanksgiving evening…they vowed to never do it again! No sale is worth the hell you go through.
I will talk about my childhood Thanksgivings next week in a post about my most memorable Thanksgivings but here I’ll tell you what my family and I do now. First we do have most of what’s on the food list but no squashes or mashed potatoes. A few of our favorites include cheesy green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs and my grandmothers recipe for mashed candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. We used to include various cookies, candies, pies like pecan or apple, and appetizers but this year we’re cutting back and trying to stay close to our low carb diet as our taste buds will let us including a sugar free pumpkin pie. NO SUGAR!!!
We start the morning with monkey bread and eggnog to prepare ourselves for the preparation of the feast. We don’t watch football and haven’t watched Thanksgiving specials since my girls were little; however, this year we will definitely watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving now that Kai is old enough. We watch movies until the evening then go the cinema to watch a fun movie. This tradition, though, has been put on hold until Kai is old enough to sit quietly for 90 plus minutes. I don’t see that happening for a few years. The rest of the holiday weekend is spent unpacking Christmas ornaments and decorations as we usher in our official Christmas season. I think we enjoy this as much as Thanksgiving Day as we eat leftovers and tell our crazy stories of holidays past.
With all these goings on does anyone have time to be grateful? It seems in my home we are too busy cooking, eating and playing. We only briefly take time to thank God for our wonderful life. I hope this year will be different – we do have so much to be thankful for.
My thanks for the week:
November 17 – the Jubilee Journey, having the opportunity to live a dream, a two-year road trip with Jesus
November 18 – My Dad’s family I was restored with
November 19 – Reconciliation with my father’s family that I didn’t even know existed but always hoped for
November 20 – My daughter Amber for doing my shopping; I hate shopping. She is such a blessing
November 21 – Kai’s “I love you”’s. Even though he doesn’t know the meaning of love yet, I love hearing it
November 22 – Extra work projects and the extra income
November 23 – Another day of silence and solitude; ah, the peace of quiet
Next week: The final edition, I’ll write about some similar thanksgiving celebrations and harvest festivals worldwide as well as share my final thanks and new Thanksgiving memories.
Don’t forget to share your Thanksgiving traditions!
Macy’s Parade and Peanuts taken from TV screen, I do not claim rights to these.