Thanksgiving Family Traditions

By Jessica Wolstenholm

The holiday season is brimming full with wonderful family traditions! Many peoples’ minds go straight to the lovely smells that filled their house growing up. The combinations of turkey and stuffing cooking in the oven, which mingled harmoniously with the remnant hints of ginger and cinnamon that still hung in the air from the marathon baking of pumpkin pies, the night before!

Thanksgiving in our house was a day full of traditions and family. My grandmothers, uncles, aunts, and cousins would all get together for our feast of turkey with all the trimmings, which would also include that much loved (or sometimes despised) side dish– the green bean casserole! I looked forward to spending the day with my entire family; listening to records on the floor of my bedroom with my cousins, and the much anticipated annual family football game that would take place outside on our street before dinner was served.

We’ve compiled a list of favorite Thanksgiving family traditions from some of the What’s In The Bible? team as well as some of our friends online. Maybe you’ll find a new tradition to begin with your family this year!

The UNOFFICIAL What’s in the Bible? & Minno Top Thanksgiving Day Family Traditions:

1. It’s all about the BIRD!– Yes it seems that 95% of Americans enjoy Turkey and all the trimmings on Thanksgiving Day. The way we prepare it, though, does differ greatly. For instance, in Hawaii, they use a coffee rub. In New England, some folks like to use a salt rub or brine. In the South, you’ll find many families enjoying a deep-fried turkey.

2. Football! Nothing like a good game of college football to get us into the spirit of…um…eating until we go into a coma?! The general consensus shows that football is definitely part of most of our holiday traditions!! The first intercollegiate championship game took place on Thanksgiving Day in 1876, and it’s been a much-loved tradition in many homes ever since.

3. Everyone loves a Parade! Beginning in 1924 Macy’s has been the long-standing king of this holiday tradition. There’s just something truly Americana about a 10 story-tall Snoopy balloon somehow being synonymous with Thanksgiving Day.

4. Make a wish!! Many families use the turkey wishbone to make a wish. Breaking the wishbone was actually an Etruscan tradition (322 BC) that the Romans took and brought to England, which then found its way to America. 

5. VeggieTales’ Madame Blueberry! Everybody loves VeggieTales, and this one is truly a classic. Thanksgiving is the perfect day for Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber to remind us that “being greedy makes you grumpy — but a thankful heart is a happy heart!” 

6. Saying THANK YOU to our amazing Creator! This is the most important tradition for many families and the one that ties everything else together. Whether your feast is simple and intimate or so large you need a separate “kid’s table”, it’s the day set aside when families all over our nation come together to say,”Thank you”, to our dear Lord for the blessings He’s bestowed on us. 

7. It is part of our family’s tradition to ask each person (young or old) to say a little something about what they’re personally thankful for. It’s a precious thing to hear even the youngest members of the family speak from a grateful heart. Coming from a family of proud servicemen, we also take the opportunity to thank the Lord for our great country. We are truly grateful to the men and women of the military who put their own lives on the line to ensure the freedom we sometimes take for granted.

8. We all write in a thanksgiving journal. We love reading entries from years past.

9. We always make a Christmas craft during Thanksgiving weekend. It was something my mom started with my siblings and cousins to keep us busy while visiting our grandparents and it is still going strong 20+ years later. Now that we are grown and live 500+ miles apart we love decorating with years and years worth of projects knowing there is one hanging in our siblings’ houses too. Keeps us close and filled with happy memories. And if for some reason we can’t celebrate together that year the family craft is decided on, directions and materials list sent, and we create together and yet far apart.

10. It’s actually an “every get together” tradition. If you set your plate down, it’s fair game! If you walk by with your plate and we have our forks already, be prepared to lose some food!

11. Prayer and keeping the door open for ones that don’t have family’s to share dinner or just hungry.

Traditions are a beautiful reminder of what we hold dear, and they come in the simplest of forms all the way up to the most elaborate! They are truly the stuff of which memories are made!