Like most Americans, I celebrated Thanksgiving last week. I was fortunate enough to go back ‘home’ and spend it with a large amount of my family. Only 1 of my 3 kids were there but being around the rest of my family helped soften that a little.
Our family has it traditions like many Southern families do. First is getting together! We used to go to my great grandparents house but they both passed in the late 80’s so then the gathering was passed along to my grandmother. Anyone from her kids to her siblings and their kids might show up. I’ve always loved it as a time that I could see cousins or great-aunts and uncles that I might not otherwise see for decades.
Everyone is welcome at our gathering, not just family. This year one cousin brought her co-worker and another had his childhood friend with him. Parents of significant others have attended and one year my Mom brought a young international student from her classes at UNCG.
Next to family, the biggest tradition is FOOD…and in true Southern way…a LOT of it. My grandmother always makes a 15ish or larger pound turkey, plus a couple of turkey breasts and a ham. One of my aunts always makes the mashed potatoes and the other aunt brings her pumpkin pies (if you are lucky she’ll hide one in the freezer with your name on it.) After that it is a free-for-all of tried and true recipes and some playing around. (Cousin David’s ‘pigloaf’ was awesome this year!)
It’s really strange how certain food traditions stick with you. For years and years my grandmother always made deviled eggs and a 7-layer salad on Thanksgiving. When I lived in Texas, we rarely made it back for Thanksgiving so I ALWAYS made deviled eggs and more often than not, the salad as well. This year there she didn’t made either one and it didn’t feel quite right.
The tradition that starts the meal is the Blessing. I think at one time my great-grandfather gave the blessing but after he passed my grandmother changed that up a little. Instead of an ‘elder’ giving blessing, she usually asks one of the tween-aged kids or a young adult. I had the honor for several years and it bounced around after I moved. The past few years grace has been said by my cousin Grace (now 12).
Many families I know have the Adult table and the Kids table (or tables). I think at one time our family attempted this but it has never really stuck. There are no place cards or hierarchy. You grab a plate from a table and hop in line. I got fussed at by my youngest daughter for sitting at their ‘kids’ table until I pointed out that my glass of wine had been sitting there for 15 minutes before we ate. My husband had grabbed the plate beside mine but my niece grabbed a plate from another table then walked over and set her drink down at his spot. It’s a free-for-all!
After lunch is where tradition ends to a point. The oldest women used to do the cleaning, now it’s whoever hops up and heads into the kitchen. I remember the year my grandmother’s sink clogged. The guys were attempting plumbing fixes in the kitchen while my aunt’s were washing dishes in the bathtub! I was laughing and taking pictures of all of them.
Some of my relatives have to rush off to other Thanksgivings. Others hang around and talk for hours. If the weather is nice, as it usually is, the kids will head outside to burn off some of their food energy. There is no football on the TV and if you are on your phone too much you’ll definitely get a remark from my grandmother. For all our traditions, being together is the most important!
What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions?