Thanksgiving centers on the meal and getting together with loved ones, but there’s more to it than just the eating. Although we think of the first Thanksgiving with its banquet prepared by Plymouth colonists and Native Americans, subsequent Thanksgivings declared in Massachusetts Bay Colony and New England featured prayer and fasting! (I suspect this concept would not go over well nowadays.)
In my family, we play board games after dinner sometimes while watching a DVD. This gives the cook & cleanup crew something to do that involves sitting, and it allows participants to enjoy after-dinner coffee and that extra piece of pie at the same time. My husband and I first did this when getting together with friends during one of our early Thanksgivings. He was in the Air Force at the time and we banded together with other young couples and singles on base to enjoy a traditional dinner every year.
And then there’s The Game. Growing up in Nebraska, football has always been a part of Thanksgiving for me. If the Cornhuskers don’t play a game on the holiday itself, they do the next day. When I was young, the Nebraska-Oklahoma game was the high point of the season (or the low point, depending on how we played). I know fans of other teams, both college and pro, have the games they look forward to over Thanksgiving weekend!
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been part of New York’s holiday since 1924, and thanks to television, it’s viewed across the country as dinner preparations are underway. In households where parade watching conflicts with the football marathon, I think the best rule is that the cook picks the television channel!
To remind us of its religious roots, many churches have special services honoring the day and its origins. Mine has a Thanksgiving Eve service, for example, that features national hymns like ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’ and prayers of gratitude not just for our nation, but for the blessings experienced by us as individuals. Many Americans acknowledge their blessings by reaching out to others and helping prepare or serve dinners in local homeless shelters. One man of our acquaintance grew up doing this with his family every single year. Needless to say, volunteering remains high on his list of holiday activities.
We don’t do this in my family, but others include trimming the Christmas tree or decorating the house as part of their Thanksgiving festivities. My own preference is to keep Thanksgiving separate from Christmas, but I follow their logic! (Besides, at our house trimming the tree is a major event all by itself — but that’s a topic for another blog post, lol.) And of course, what would Thanksgiving weekend be without Black Friday and its early bird specials? I stay home that day, but my hubby has been known to get up in the wee hours to take advantage of a good deal.
What about you? What are your personal Thanksgiving traditions? I’d love to hear what others include in their Thanksgiving traditions. Leave a comment and I’ll included your name in a drawing for another $10 Barnes & Noble gift card, winners to be announced on Wednesday, Nov. 24th!
Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving!