Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving.  The most food-centric holiday that we celebrate. The older I get the more I appreciate all of the efforts and traditions of my family.  And we are nothing if not traditionalists.  It’s pretty much the same menu every year with maybe one new recipe thrown in for fun.  I’m good with that.  And according to statistics so are most families.  It’s rare to find a new dish on a family’s Thanksgiving table.    

In our family it is also totally a group effort.  While I have been hosting for the past few years, my mother, aunt, brother and brother-in-law each contribute their best dishes.  Each year I read food magazines like Bon Appetit and Food & Wine hoping to find some new dish to enhance the meal.  It’s very uncommon, I must say.  Last year I actually found a lot of my grandmother’s old recipes and decided to make the Jell-O mold I remember liking.  Yup.  Still just as yummy and as funny.  At least my nephews now know what one is.  I’m still undecided if it will be making a reappearance this year. 

Giving thanks helps us to recognize, appreciate, and be grateful for all of the wonderful things in our lives. And as Americans we all have a lot to be grateful for, despite any of our first world problems.  And while it’s good to say thank you each and every day, saying it at Thanksgiving just makes it more special.  After all, where better than celebrating with friends and family? 

Here are some ideas to enhance or change up your Thanksgiving celebration this year:

  1. In the morning start with a great breakfast to power you through the day.  If you are having your Thanksgiving meal at your normal dinner time this is a must. 
  2. Take a nice hike or walk before delving into the day.  Either before a big breakfast or in place of one take some time for yourself and go for a walk in the brisk cool air.  It will help prepare you for the day. 
  3. Go around the table and say at least one thing you are thankful for.  Or write it down, put it in a bowl and have people fish out one thank each and guess who wrote it. 
  4. Toasts all around! Remember to toast the host and anything else if libations are plentiful. 
  5. Have Thanksgiving dinner a little later.  We normally eat quite early so we don’t have this huge meal right before bed.  But maybe a little candlelight enhances the mood?
  6. Take a group walk together after dinner – if you don’t do suggestion #5.  This is a great way to help combat turkey coma. 
  7. Facetime with any family members who would normally be there but couldn’t this year.  Thanksgiving is all about family right?  But if you’re not there or someone else is missing it make sure you reach out. 
  8. Have pumpkin pie for breakfast or eat it throughout the day.  We always make one whole extra pie for this specific purpose.  I think it may be my favorite part of the whole day. 
  9. Ditch the cell phones for the day, or at least at the table.  Designate 1 person to take photos.
  10. Plan for leftovers.  Make sure you ask everyone to bring their BYOT (bring your own Tupperware!) 

So whether you’re watching football or the parade, just make sure you take it all in and enjoy the chaos or the quiet.  And what do you do with all of the food that you have leftover?  Maybe it’s a tradition to just slap it all on a white bread sandwich the next day and enjoy.  And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that may I suggest these fun turkey tacos?  Keep them as is or add some fajita seasoning to your turkey and kick it up a notch. It is Thanksgiving after all. 

Turkey tacos (from leftovers)


  • Taco Shells
  • Turkey
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Creamed Cabbage, strained
  • Stuffing
  • Glazed Sweet Potatoes
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Fajita Seasoning (optional)
  • Mayo (optional)
  • Hot Sauce (optional)
  • Cilantro, chopped (optional)

Instructions and assembly

  • Reheat necessary ingredients. Build your taco! 
  • Assembly: Make this buffet style by serving hot ingredients in separate bowls, the tacos on a plate, and the toppings in medium-sized dipping bowls. Let everyone build their own and enjoy!