In only a few short weeks, Thanksgiving will be upon us. Can you believe it? I don’t know why the holiday season tends to sneak up on me every year, but it does. Probably because this time of year is one of the busiest for my family and we have a lot going on besides the holidays. Despite our busy schedule, my family and I love gathering for Thanksgiving. It is a special time for us and we try to keep with our traditions to the best of our ability. However, as families grow in time and in number, Thanksgiving traditions tend to change, fade or bloom depending on the circumstances.
I am the kind of person that loves tradition. I am not a fan of change and I often get sad when a family tradition changes or fades away. But I have learned over the past few years, especially after the death of my husband right before the holidays, that sometimes traditions must change. Sometimes traditions change because we grow out of them. Or because we’re tired of them (fruitcake, anyone?). Or because our family dynamic has changed, and so must the tradition. Whatever the case may be, traditions come and go, and I am starting to become more open to incorporating new traditions as time marches on.
Eight Fun Thanksgiving Traditions to Try
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Here are some fun, unique and/or heartwarming Thanksgiving traditions you may want to incorporate into your holiday celebration this year:
Invest in Family Fat Pants
I have a friend whose entire family brings matching pants to Thanksgiving dinner. I believe their pants are even personalized and when a new member joins the family, it’s a big deal to get their very own pair of Thanksgiving pants. After dinner, they all change into their pants and watch football for the rest of the day. I absolutely love this idea and have wanted to incorporate it into my family’s Thanksgiving for a while.
Involve the Kids in Dinner Prep
As your family starts to add little people to the mix, there are a lot of areas in which you can incorporate them into the festivities. Kids as young as three or four can help set the table. Older kids can help serve dessert to the adults. Even older kids can help put leftovers away and clean the dishes. While they may moan and complain sometimes, starting this tradition when they’re young will give them a lot of good memories of helping grandma or mama in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day.
Go for a Jog Before the Feast
There are those people who sit around and over-eat on Thanksgiving like it’s an Olympic sport. Then there are those who get up at the crack of dawn and run in a Turkey Trot. I will never understand the latter sort of people, but I admire their determination. If you are itching to run your butt off before you stuff your face, find a Turkey Trot near you and have a great time. I’ll be waiting at the finish line with a bottle of wine and a turkey leg.
Start a Thanksgiving Tablecloth
Start the sweet tradition of a Thanksgiving tablecloth. Buy a large, inexpensive cotton tablecloth and some multi-colored fabric pens that you can place in cups or mason jars around the table. Anytime before, during, or after your meal, encourage your guests to write a note, write something they’re thankful for, or simply sign the tablecloth. Pull out the tablecloth every year and have your guest add to it. Over several years, you will have accumulated dozens of precious memories and thoughts from family and friends that you can read over and over again each year.
Take a Family Vacation
Some people decide to nix the traditional family gathering at Thanksgiving and take a family vacation instead. I love this idea and would love to try it someday. Perhaps pick a destination that is close enough for everyone to drive. Or make it a huge affair and go somewhere grand, like Europe! Even if you just take the family and go camping, this is a tradition that many people love.
Try a New Recipe
While we all love some of the traditional Thanksgiving staples, sometimes it’s fun to try something new. Maybe this year instead of a turkey, try a ham or a roast duck. Instead of pumpkin pie, try sweet potato, rhubarb or apple pie. Trying new recipes will not only spice things up a bit every year, it may also introduce you to a new dish that will become a new Thanksgiving tradition.
Have a Family Game Night
Instead of succumbing to a food coma after the feast, maybe try hosting a family game night to liven up the party! Pick a high-energy and entertaining game, like Pictionary or Cards Against Humanity, and laugh the calories off. If high-energy is not your thing, try a puzzle or a thinking man’s game like Scrabble. Whichever you choose, hosting a family game night will keep your guest entertained and laughing well into the evening.
Go for a Post-Feast Walk
This is a tradition my family has had since I was a little girl. Well, half of my family anyway. After Thanksgiving dinner, all the women of the family take a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood, laughing and talking and catching up with each other. Meanwhile, back at the homestead, the men unbutton their pants, drink beer and yell at the football players on TV. It’s one of my favorite family traditions and I look forward to it every year.
Thanksgiving is a time when families gather for a day of food, fellowship, and, hopefully, fun. Incorporating new traditions into your established traditions, or changing traditions to suit your changing family, is a great way to create special new memories that you and your kids will remember for years to come.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?