Keeping traditions connects the past with the present and helps us feel at home. “Thanksgiving is all about home for me,” shared Michiel Perry, founder of Black Southern Belle. “We always go to my family’s property in Colleton County, SC in a home that my grandfather helped build.”
At the Zing Blog, we love the holidays, so we wanted to share with you some of the Thanksgiving traditions kept by families across America. Read the stories below to get in the holiday spirit and start your own Thanksgiving tradition today!
Thanksgiving is no longer just for family. More and more Americans are choosing to celebrate the day with friends instead of family, especially if there’s quite a distance between them and their families. According to the Seattle Metropolitan, 11% of millennials in their 20s and 18% of those in their 30s spend Thanksgiving with friends rather than family.
Kathryn Blitz, a college student from New York City, mails annual Friendsgiving invitations to her closest friends from home and high school. One of the reasons Blitz enjoys celebrating Thanksgiving with friends is that it’s not an obligatory gathering. It can be refreshing to avoid inevitable family tensions and begin the holiday season with longtime friends. “It’s a great way to reconnect after not seeing each other for three months while we are away at college,” shared Blitz. Spending the day with friends in the area also cuts down on travel costs for those living far from family.
Always a New Recipe
Food has likely always played a large role in the Thanksgiving holiday. “In our family of chefs, there is always a feast to be had on Thanksgiving,” shared Alexa Lemley, executive chef of Artisan Foodworks. In addition to the standard favorites, Lemley and her family keep each other on their toes by experimenting with a new recipe every year.
“One year, we made a bourbon pumpkin soup and served it out of a giant pumpkin. Another year, we made an asparagus tart,” said Lemley. “This year, I think we’re going to make stir-fried sweet potatoes from NYT Cooking.” Don’t worry if the new dish is a flop. “Even for professional chefs, new recipes don’t always work out,” said Lemley. Make sure you have the basics down and follow our turkey-cooking tips to ensure your dinner is a success.
Taboo Table Talk
While family gatherings can be a wonderful time of connecting over the holidays, sometimes it seems like the list of what not to talk about grows a little longer every year. “When I was growing up, we always had Thanksgiving dinner at my Uncle Charlie’s apartment, and we always wound up arguing about politics,” shared Robert Barrows of R.M. Barrows, Inc., in San Mateo, Calif. “So, my tradition ever since has been: never talk politics at Thanksgiving.” Keeping the peace this season can be worth losing an argument or two.
Doodle Over Dinner
Waiting for the turkey to hit the table can sometimes feel like it lasts an eternity. Jamie Novak helps her family survive pre-dinner hunger pangs and long dinner conversations by providing an activity for those stuck in their seats. Using the same fabric tablecloth each year, Novak sets out fabric markers for guests and family members to leave their mark, such as a note, quote, drawing or signature. “This is now a treasure with signatures of loved ones that are no longer with us, kids’ drawings and now the kids are grown and so on,” reminisced Novak. “Everyone looks forward to adding to the tablecloth!”
Decorating for the Holidays
Not a fan of Thanksgiving? Use the time off to prep together for December’s festivities. Felicia Ramos-Peters, founder of GetHolidayHappy.com, celebrates Thanksgiving with a family ornament exchange. “My family loves Christmas and as a way to kick off the holiday season every year for Thanksgiving we give each other an ornament,” shared Ramos-Peters. “It means a lot to me because I have numerous ornaments on my tree that were gifts and really mean so much more than a generic Christmas bulb.”
Set the Table Together
Sometimes getting ready to eat can be half the fun. “I love setting the table with my mom. She is an avid Belk’s and Dillard’s Department store shopper so it’s always fun to see what new items she has picked up throughout the year,” explained Perry. Don’t sacrifice style and stick to your Thanksgiving budget with these table decor designs.
‘Leaf’ a Memory
Sharing what you’re thankful for is a common custom on Thanksgiving. Can you remember, though, what made you grateful five or even 10 years ago? Lisa Hennessy, founder of Your Pet Chef, has been keeping track of what makes her family thankful for the last 30 years. Starting at 4 years old, Hennessy’s kids have been writing what makes them thankful on at least one construction paper leaf per year.
“My mother keeps the leaves and every few years we look back,” shared Hennessy. “How fun it is for my teenage nephew to see he was thankful for Pokémon underpants when he was younger. It’s a great tradition that helps us reflect on all of the good things in our lives,” she added.
Do you follow a unique Thanksgiving tradition with your family? What makes this holiday special in your home? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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