Thursday, November 26, 2009

Celebrating Thanksgiving Traditions

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving - Psalms 95:2

We can't tell you how fun it was for us to read everyone's favorite Thanksgiving memories and traditions in the comments section of our last giveaway (A Thanksgiving Giveaway)! We thought it would be proper to respond by sharing a bit about our own favorite traditions, although I'm sure you'll find that they don't differ much from everyone else's. I guess the great thing about Thanksgiving is that everyone is of one heart and mind. We gather together with loved ones to give thanks for the many blessings we've experienced throughout the year. The sweet simplicity has yet to be a victim of the over-commercialization you find with so many other holidays. In fact, for the most part it has went untouched, which preserves it as one of the most special times of the year. Here is a bit of what makes it special for us...

Due to changing family circumstances and recent moves, my husband and I have found it somewhat difficult to pin down specific traditions, as we are constantly forced to shake things up. This can be both exciting and disappointing at times. On the one hand, I miss the stability of childhood traditions, but I also appreciate breaking the monotony and seeing what each year brings. Still, for me there are some rituals that I will rarely forgo.

In a nut shell, my most cherished Thanksgiving traditions consist of getting up early to prepare the the bird and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Thanks to my sister Kristin, we picked up on her family's tradition of indulging in warm cinnamon rolls and fruit for breakfast in recent years. After the parade I like to pop in a holiday special (or two) and we usually eat dinner some time in the late afternoon. Among the general Thanksgiving dishes are 2 recipes passed on from another sister, Jill, which includes a double layer pumpkin pie and cornbread casserole. When feasting with a larger group I also like to include my Cranberry Thanksgiving Punch. I somehow feel closer to my siblings when I make their traditions my traditions.

We then spend the rest of the evening pouring over Black Friday ads and planning our early morning route. This, of course, means getting to bed early, though that doesn't always happened. Last year we also went to a huge holiday light display in the evening, which we hope to do again this year. I think that could become a special addition to our yearly traditions. We also like to begin our Christmas decorating around this time. But most importantly, we always take a moment to thank God for all that we have. No matter what our struggles, we realize that we are blessed beyond comprehension and are thankful for a warm house, food on the table and a whole lot of love!

Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday. It's the big kick-off for the Christmas season (which is exciting), but there are other reasons I love it so . . .

1.) It's very hard to commercialize.
2.) The Christian tradition is nearly impossible to downplay.
3.) It doesn't involved gifts.
4.) The focus is on the whole family

Yes, it involves work, but it's largely a very pleasant, relaxing day and we have a few little traditions that make it even more special.

One of our earliest started when our first child was quite young -- cinnamon rolls and quiche for breakfast while we watch the Macy's parade on TV. We have had to drop the quiche recently, but the cinnamon rolls are a must (ask my kids.)

We are pretty traditional when it comes to the meal . . . we like to set a nice table with glass and candles and must have all the traditional fixin's to eat. This is the day we drink sparkling cider (we don't drink alcohol) and eggnog, too. I also like to put out Andes candies and other holiday chocolates and my oldest daughter insists on crusty bread with spinach dip for a light snack later in the day.

We involved as much family as can attend and we all share things we are grateful for. My husband or father-in-law say the Thanksgiving prayer as we sit down to eat (usually at 2 pm.)

At 4 pm, it's football time which cannot be missed because my DH and his brother have been Dallas Cowboy fans since they were very young. I have no interest in that, so I, some of the kids, and my mother-in-law and other guests might play games or watch a Christmas movie. ("Elf" or "Home Alone" are top choices) instead. It's very pleasant to enjoy this time, munching on left-overs with a nice blazing fire.

Our kids love traditions and they make sure we do not overlook any. They even make sure we are up for the parade pre-show! But they are also very helpful at making the house super-clean (another tradition) so it all feels homey and exciting.

There is nothing like family and friends to make the holidays special and memorable. I always make sure I grab my camera and video-cam and record these times and my kids get no end of fun looking back and remembering. I know that when they are grown, they will have warm memories of home and will strive to re-create those times for their own.

Holidays are more than one day -- they are a season and, as I stated in other posts, we love to study the history and remember God's goodness toward us and having a holiday that is largely dedicated to that is about as good as it gets.

May you all have a truly blessed Thanksgiving and we'll be back on Monday, November 30th, with loads of Christmas cheer!