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Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions

  • Readers
  • 2003 24 Nov
Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions

Recently, we asked Crosswalk readers to share their favorite Thanksgiving traditions and what makes this time of year so special for their families.  If you're looking for some ideas of your own or if you're just in need of some inspiring traditions that will touch your heart, we invite you to take a few minutes to read through the following traditions.

My son started a Thanksgiving tradition of his own when he was about 9 yrs. old.  He has a piece of pumpkin pie for breakfast on that day.  He says he never can wait until after dinner, and then he's too full to enjoy it as much!
– Barbara F.
Glencoe, Okla.

On Thanksgiving Day, we always get together with either my folks or my husband's.  We alternate each year.  We always have a big turkey, filling, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables & pumpkin pie. When we get together with my folks, we also have mince meat pie.  When our oldest child's birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day, as it does this year, we have birthday cake sometime throughout the day.
– Janet W.
East Berlin, Pa.

Our favorite tradition is the nature walk we go on after dinner.  We live in Arizona, so the weather is usually cooperative.  We walk down to the river and through the hills for several miles, appreciating the beauty of God's creation and enjoying the conversation and time spent together.  We don't have a "favorite" recipe.  We like to try new variations on the traditional turkey and dressing as well as new sides and of course, pies, which we eat after the walk.  But we all agree that we must have turkey!
– Cindy B.

When our kids were younger, we read Peter Marshall's "The Light and the Glory."  We were especially moved by the story of the pilgrims during that terrible winter when they were rationed only five kernels of corn to eat each day.  On that first Thanksgiving feast, after they had been so blessed by an abundant harvest, they put on each of their plates five kernels of corn as a reminder of God's blessings on them.  Since reading this story, we have adopted the same tradition, and on each person's plate we put five kernels of corn (the candy type) to remind ourselves of how God has provided so many blessings for us as well.
– Chris O.
Lake Orion, Mich.

Our favorite Thanksgiving family tradition is the time spent together after dinner playing games. The day after we have "after day", do crafts all day and eat leftovers. Watch Christmas movies like "White Christmas", "It's a Wonderful Life", "Miracle on 34th Street", "Scrooge", etc.
– Toni S.
Evanston, Wyo.

After we were married and having kids of our own, it seemed that both our families were either growing so much or moving so far away it was becoming impossible to get together.  We all then decided to just get together with the families once a year during the Christmas holidays.  Then our parents would take turns coming to each of their children's homes on Thanksgiving, taking turns with each child's family for a particular year.  Then we realized that we wanted to continue to share our Thanksgiving seasons with someone (or several someones as it has turned out), on the years that our parents weren't with us.  Then, both my parents and my husband's father, after much illness went to be with the Lord, and my husband's mom prefers to go to his sister's each year since she lives so far away and can't see her but that one time during the year.  Then, my best friend's parents also passed and she being single with no family within the state we started inviting anyone that seems to just need to be with someone.  It has become a regular thing for my best friend to be here each year. but we have invited neighbors who were by themselves and no family around, our kids' friends and families, and invited those who may not want to come for the big meal but come for the fun afterwards.

Our family is not into all the football games on TV, and we let those we invite know this but we have had impromptu basketball games and touch football games of our own.  We have had long walks through the neighborhood after the big meal to guitar jam sessions with 2 to 6 guitarists playing electric and acoustic both with beginning to experienced musicians.  We have played all kinds of board games, and card games.  We have rented special movies such as Jimmy Stewart's "It's a Wonderful Life" to help us all to be thankful and get us into the holiday spirit.  But the most important thing is sharing what we are thankful for around the table with all of our friends and what families we can each year.  This year we should have a lot to be thankful for; we will have 15 to 20 here sitting around 3 tables and an expected 7 to 13 extra for the activities afterwards -- the most we have ever had.  The Lord has blessed us in many ways, but we always feel very humbled and blessed having our Thanksgivings celebrated in this way with those we love and cherish.
– Peggie W.
Arlington, Texas

A family tradition is to spend the day with younger family members crumbling cornbread for the dressing, knowing just how much love is put into crumbling and that we are all part of what makes Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving.
– Connie C.

Making a craft for the holiday.  Once I made a Pilgrim Hat Flower Pot Centerpiece with a terra cotta pot painted black, the gold buckle, a hat brim, put fake flowers in it.  It was beautiful.
– J.R.M.

My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is just getting everyone together.  The larger our family becomes the more spread out (over the country) we get.  It is so good just to get together!  Of course the food isn't bad either!
– Elaine Y.

Our biggest tradition for Thanksgiving (which I'm sure is very, very common among folks, but is very special and meaningful to my entire extended family) is to go around the table before we eat our delicious feast, and each member has the opportunity to reflect over the past year, and share one thing they're most thankful for.  The biggest problem we run in to is keeping it to one item.  We have so many things to be thankful for, that we want to share them all!
– Kim G.
Northglenn, Colo.

We make a thankful tree.  I use brown craft paper cut to cover the front of my refrigerator.  I draw a tree trunk on it and each day we add leaves to the tree or "ground".  On the leaf we have written something we are thankful for.  You can cut leaves out of construction paper or old wallpaper books.  One year I found tissue paper leaves, and we used those.  This year we are using foam leaf stickers.  If the child is old enough, he can write on his own leaf or mom and dad can help.  We start on Nov. 1 and continue until Thanksgiving Day.  Then we review our tree together.
– Teresa B.
Apex, N.C.

We began our tradition about eight years ago when our remnant of a family needed something to take the blues away!  My husband and I and the last two of our six children moved to Northern California nine years ago, leaving two of our married children behind in Southern California, while the other two were now living in remote parts of our huge country!  Our first Thanksgiving at our new home was rather blue as our other children could not make it home for the holiday with their young families.

When the second Thanksgiving rolled around and we knew the family was not going to be together again, my husband and I decided that something new would take our minds off tradition.  We decided to pack up the family camper and go camping for the weekend.  We found a place nearby that was not too high in elevation and not too cold.  We chose to camp near a lake as our son and dad enjoy fishing while our daughter and I enjoy hiking.  What a great time we had that first year.  With no electricity on the site, we used candles at night and played Yahtzee and other card games.  We sat around the fire and roasted a chicken, and really enjoyed ourselves.  Since then, our adult daughter and her husband have moved more local to our family.  They, too, have taken to our tradition and join us every other year.  (In-laws need their year too.)  We enjoy the wonders of God's creation on this holiday and that is a great thing to be thankful for!
– Elaine H.
Tracy, Calif.