I love Autumn! Crisp weather, crisp leaves, fuzzy sweaters, and red cheeks, LOVE IT! Halloween sort of ushers in the holiday season and, if you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed that most stores tend to jump straight from ghouls and goblins to holly and ‘Ho, Ho, Ho!’. What happened to Thanksgiving? Rather than lament the ways of the world and decry commercialism, I’ve decided to focus on my holiday traditions and go at my own pace.

Thanksgiving Traditions Past:

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was nearly always held at my Grandma & Grandpa’s house (My mom’s parents. Daddy’s parents were Papa & Granny). There were always the three sets of aunts and uncles and all 14 of us cousins. Most of us arrived within about 6 years of each other, though there were a couple of stragglers and, in the tiny house Grandpa built nearly 60 years ago, it always felt full but never crowded.

When Grandpa was in high school, less than a mile from where he and Grandma built their home, he took woodshop. During his sophomore, junior, and senior years, he built the beautiful dining table, chairs, and matching china hutch that held pride of place in Grandma’s dining room. Can you imagine building a dining room table with beautiful wood inlay and three extra leaves to make it seat 12 people in high school? I didn’t think so!

Every Thanksgiving, that table was filled with Grandma’s beautiful china, stemmed glasses and, a cornucopia filled with flaming maple leaves, tangerines and, dried hydrangea blossoms, all from their yard. Candlelight gleaming on the well-polished silverware and antique lace on the table didn’t seem out-of-place with the running children and shouts from the men watching football in the front room. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole {don’t forget the French’s Onions!}, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, cranberry sauce and fresh-baked rolls were always on the menu. Aunts might decide to get fancy with the desserts some years but, there was always sure to be pumpkin, apple, and mincemeat pies. Two days later, on Saturday, we always gathered again for ‘reruns’, and the Saturday after that was Turkey Soup night, the same cast of characters, of course. The game on Soup Night was to guess the ingredient Grandma didn’t throw into the pot. I don’t think we’ve ever figured it out!

Thanksgiving Traditions Present:

Now that we’re all growing up, kids are going off to college, getting married, moving away, it’s not as easy to keep everything the same. For some reason, my husband seems to think that HE has important traditions too! We’re still figuring out what works for us but, so far what works is:

The Saturday before Thanksgiving is dinner with my husband’s mom and her family. Lots of cousins, LOTS of food, lots of FUN. His grandma is such a good cook! My first Thanksgiving with them was the year I discovered I like sweet potatoes and potato salad. To this day, her recipes are the only ones I’ll eat and enjoy!

A movie with my parents and siblings and their families, of course on Thanksgiving Day. This is a hold-over from when I was growing up, we’d always go see the big holiday movie as a matinée together before heading over to Grandma & Grandpas. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why this little tradition is such a big deal to me! I think it’s because movies are kind of a big deal in my family, we’re always throwing movie quotes at each other and it’s so rare we can get ALL of us together to do something just for fun. It’s such a treat!

Thanksgiving dinner is usually at my husband’s dad and stepmom’s place. Y’all, I can’t even tell you how great I lucked out in the in-law department! Not only are they all awesome and I love hanging out with them, I usually get to do it twice for each holiday!
We still do Thanksgiving Reruns but now, it’s usually the Sunday after and it’s nearly always at my sister’s place. Super casual and laid back, just what you need to ramp up for the Christmas chaos. We usually play Christmas music and start putting up lights too.

Thanksgiving Traditions Future:

In the future, we’d love to be able to host the holiday meal every once in a while! It’s always been a dream of ours to have a home that can serve as a gathering place for both our families year-round but, especially at the holidays.

What traditions do you go back to, year after year? Are you adding any new ones?

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