Hosting Thanksgiving allows you to include your favorite traditions of Thanksgivings past while incorporating new ones with your growing family.
My husband and I are the “kids” of our family which meant that Thanksgiving feasts were usually planned well in advance by our grandparents, parents, aunts, older siblings. In fact, you could calls us “kids table veterans”. We were relegated to the kids table well into our late twenties and early thirties! As the families have gotten older, the Thanksgivings of our youth have changed. Family situations have changed, we’ve gotten older, family members have moved (or passed on). Now many families like mine find themselves hosting their own Thanksgivings for the younger generations.
Once I married, my Thanksgiving was shared with my husband and included a short car ride to his grandmother’s house. We did a pretty even split between the two families until is grandmother passed away.
My folks threw a wrench into the works for our traditional family Thanksgivings. They bought a condo in Florida and they usually take off for their winter home over Thanksgiving weekend. Gone are the days of the epic family gatherings on Thanksgiving for my side of the family. I still celebrate with my folks, we just tend to do Thanksgiving earlier than, well, Thanksgiving. Long story short – my husband and I decided to break away from shuttling kids all over Metro Detroit and host our own Thanksgiving. We still see our relatives, just not on Thanksgiving Day. We quickly incorporated our own traditions and look forward to Thanksgiving now just as much as we did back then. In some ways, even more so!
HOSTING THANKSGIVING PERKS AND MY FAMILY’S STRANGE TRADITIONS
The food – We make what we want! I know this sounds weird but the beauty of hosting your own Thanksgiving is that you don’t have to worry about foods only a few people like. No more green gelatin, yams or cranberries for us. We make what we want to eat and cook it how we want to eat it. This also makes things much easier. We can focus on the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and green beans without having to stress out about making some aunt’s favorite green jello. My daughter & I aren’t huge turkey fans – so we get Alaskan King Crab Legs! The best part of hosting your own is clear ownership of the leftovers.
Apple Cider – My husband hits his favorite cider mill (Yates or Rochester Cider Mill) like clockwork the day before Thanksgiving to get a gallon of cider and a tub of apple butter for the rolls. I prefer red wine but I respect his tradition. The cider mills get a lot less crowded after Halloween. I don’t know why, we drink the stuff until the cider mills close for the winter. Cider & donuts is fantastic. Cider & turkey is highly underrated. Trust me!
Football – The games stay on! Before the meal, during the meal, after the meal, Lions getting blown out – it doesn’t matter. My husband recalls the painful days when Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma’s was served & the TV was flipped off.
Bonfires – My husband gets a little nutty and builds an epic bonfire in the backyard every Thanksgiving. His goal every year is to keep it blazing throughout the day from about 11am on.
Laptops – I’m a die-hard Black Friday shopper so I usually prop myself on the couch after dinner to map out my Black Friday strategies. I highly doubt that the Pilgrims could have ever envisioned this.
Nature Hikes to combat the tryptophan – The post dinner hike. We like to take a brisk nature walk if weather allows to help the food settle. I enjoy the freedom to do this after years of having to socialize with aunts & uncles. It’s not that I minded the awesome family conversations, but I always felt like I needed a brisk jaunt to keep my energy up for the company.
The “stragglers”– We always extend the invitation to people without a place to go on Thanksgiving to join us. There’s always a relative, neighbor or co-worker we’ve known who has family elsewhere that may not have a place to go on the holiday. We always try to invite someone. We rarely have been taken up on our offer. After reading some of our strange traditions, I can understand why.
Wear what you want – When it’s just the four of us, there is no need to dress up to look nice for the relatives. Sweats, flannels, pajamas are all welcome.
While my families’ Thanksgivings have changed through the years, I sometimes miss the craziness of the huge gatherings and the hectic pace of trying to visit as many family members as possible. I guess I’m just thankful I’ve had a chance to experience so many Turkey Day traditions as I look forward to many more!
Happy Thanksgiving! I’d love to hear some of your favorite traditions (new or old).