Celebrate Old and New Traditions on Thanksgiving

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“Out with The old, In with the New.  Whoops, wrong holiday!  How about …. “Cherish the Old, Add a New”

MSN Encarta Dictionary says this about tradition:

tra·di·tion [ trə dísh’n ] (plural tra·di·tions) noun

Definition:  1. custom or belief: a long-established action or pattern of behavior in a community or group of people, often one that has been handed down from generation to generation


Why do we have traditions associated with various events or holidays?  Fond memories are often made of traditions. Traditions are one way to bring back the memories of past years or share them with others. Thanksgiving is one of many holidays imbedded with numerous traditions handed down from generation to generation.  Here are some ideas to ensure a memorable, tradition filled Thanksgiving year after year.

  • Be sure you are already continuing some old traditions each year.   If you are not, start now.  Draw on your past experiences with family, friends, cultures, or Thanksgiving history and adopt a long-standing tradition.
  • Traditions are not just for Thanksgiving Day.  Add a new tradition to the preparation days to make it more fun, reduce stress, and help get into the holiday spirit.  If you hate shopping, invite a friend and shop together. Trade tasks amongst a group of friends and family who are also serving a feast at their home; i.e. Mary makes all the pies, John peels all the potatoes. If you really want to break the routine, organize a progressive dinner.  It is a good way to learn of other traditions or pass on some of your own. (Learn how here:  How to Organize a Progressive Holiday Dinner) If you have kids, teach them about the traditions and have them help with age appropriate tasks.  You have worked hard all week – make Thanksgiving Eve special by making it an annual take-out night.
  • You probably have a favorite food or drink you prepare each year.  Keep the tradition going, but add something new each year too.  If it is a hit, make it part of your new traditions.  I made pumpkin cheesecake a few years ago and it instantly became a “must have” for every Thanksgiving.
  • Add new activities.  If you do not know of any off-hand, search the Internet or try these. A) On a big piece of newspaper end rolls or butcher paper, draw a tree.  Hang on the wall.  Cut simple leaves from different color construction paper ahead of time.  Have your guests write what they are thankful for on a leaf and glue the leaf to the tree using a glue stick.  Challenge your guests to fill the tree with foliage of thanks by the end of the day. B)  After dinner, have your guests make Christmas ornaments to take home.  C) Share a 17th century game with the kids such as “Cat’s Cradle”. D)  Take a ride to view Christmas displays throughout your city and neighborhoods.
  • If you are fortunate to have a traditional Thanksgiving feast, remember many people are not.  In appreciation and thanks, find a way to help others. Invite someone that would otherwise be alone. If you think they might feel awkward and decline, invite them for turkey sandwiches Thanksgiving night.  Donate food or money to organizations that provide a Thanksgiving meal to the less fortunate, donate time on Thanksgiving morning to help deliver meals-on-wheels, volunteer to serve dinner at a homeless shelter, bring your leftovers to homeless families you know are living on the streets, or bring your leftovers to a soup kitchen.  Try to make any of these acts of kindness a monthly year-around tradition.
  • Make and deliver a Thanksgiving gift basket to thank a special person or community organization.
  • If you usually celebrate Thanksgiving dinner elsewhere, cook a small turkey and host a quiet informal evening of turkey sandwiches and dessert.  Add some activities, play board games, or watch a classic holiday movie.

Whatever tradition you celebrate, give thanks and pass it on.

Photo credit:  publicdomainpictures.net

How to Organize a Progressive Holiday Dinner


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