Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of many people. It involves so much more than a day for giving thanks. It's also a day to reunite with family members you haven't seen in a while and to relive favorite family traditions and stories.
Perhaps you're a newlywed and you and your new husband are looking for ideas on how to start your own family traditions. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.
Flickr photo credit: brad_holt
Lots of families make it a Thanksgiving tradition to invite a friend or neighbor who they know will be alone. This can turn into a lively and interesting gathering as every year there are different faces at the table. It's also a nice way to share a nice home-cooked meal with those who might not have had one otherwise!
Families all over love to volunteer for charity at the Thanksgiving season. They make it a practice to serve the Thanksgiving meal at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Or they hand out turkeys and meals to the needy in their community.
Volunteering your time and energy are wonderful inexpensive holiday gifts. Even if you can't afford to go donate a bunch of food to a shelter, or prepare a meal for homeless people, you can still serve them!
Using your time to serve others who don't have anything is a great way to give back on this special day in which we remember what we are grateful for. Don't you think?
Flickr photo credit: Tmuna Fish
Do the aunts in your family have secret recipes for pumpkin and apple pie or another gourmet dessert? Why not have a bake-off? The oldest or youngest people in the family can be the judges. Have everyone bring their own handmade pie to the Thanksgiving dinner and hold the contest at dessert time.
Make sure to leave who-made-what-pie anonymous. That's part of the fun!
For many, the tradition of the eldest in the family carving the Thanksgiving bird is a cherished one. Often a special or even personalized knife and fork set that's been handed down over the generations does the honors.
And when it's time for the next generation to learn how to carve, that's a special tradition all its own. Grandfathers, uncles, and dads all love to get involved in keeping this one tradition alive.
In my family, the women cook the meal and the men clean up the kitchen and do the dishes afterwards. This is just one more way to pass on a tradition for years to come!
Flickr photo credit: Rhett Sutphin
In some families, whoever is hosting the Thanksgiving dinner will make the turkey and the tradition is for the guests to bring the side dishes.
This not only ensures a lovely array of different family recipes, but it also saves precious oven space for the bird as folks cook their dishes at home.
The children's table has become a family tradition tested by time. It's no longer a demerit to be placed at the children's table if you're the only single guy or girl. That's where all the fun happens. Place small kids gifts like toys and crayons at the kids' table and cover it with butcher paper so they can draw.
Since the day is all about thanksgiving for our many blessings, one popular tradition is to create a Thanksgiving Tree. This can be composed of a construction paper trunk hung on a wall or fridge and individual leaves made of paper for guests to write on.
Each guest writes what they are most thankful for and sticks it on the tree. Another variation is to bring in live tree branches and make a centerpiece out of them. Guests add their leaves before the meal and everyone can read them during dinner.
For the multitudes of vegetarians that come to the table, hosts are starting a new tradition of offering a Tofu-rkey. This faux turkey is actually crafted in the shape of a turkey and made entirely out of tofu. It's a nice tradition that shows you care about the non-meat-eaters at the table.
Image by mandiees on Flickr
For families around the globe, there's no tradition quite like watching football on Thanksgiving Day. After everyone has stuffed themselves with a fine meal, everyone retires in front of the TV with their personalized coffee cups to watch the game.
Usually, factions will split off from those who finish the dishes and put away leftovers to kids who go outside to folks who just want to unbutton their top button and take a snooze.
Probably the most adorable tradition of late is the occurrence of well-dressed dogs at the festivities. Those with a sense of humor have made a tradition out of making or buying a costume for Fido to arrive at the table in. One year it might be full pilgrim garb, the next she might show up as a Native American. What could be more festive?