Happy Thanksgiving! Our Readers Share Their Traditions...

Happy Thanksgiving! Our Readers Share Their Traditions...

Janel Laban
Nov 24, 2011
To me, Thanksgiving is a holiday that is very much in alignment with the Apartment Therapy mission. After all, it's about taking a moment (often at home, but certainly anywhere works!) to reflect on and recognize those things that we are thankful for...and then embracing them with a celebration. And, the best part is that there is no one "right" way to enjoy the day. You can be part of a group sitting around a big table enjoying a traditional meal or gathered with people from your community at a run or volunteering, or maybe settling in for a solo day of much needed quiet and calm - it's all good. Jump below for some reader stories of how they like to celebrate the day...
My Mother came up with the idea years ago to use a white table cloth for our dinner table and leave Sharpie markers (all different colors) out for everyone to write what they are thankful for and date it. Each year, we use the same cloth and it is very touching to see where people were in their lives when they wrote stuff, who visited with us that year, what people wrote whom are no longer with us and you are able to watch the young ones grow up on this cloth each year. It's like a timeline for your family. - Nobo52
Being alone on Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to pick up strays (people, not animals, though the animals are nice too) -- a lot of people get really down around the holidays, especially if they are not with family. You'll be their hero: lock in one or two friends, then just start inviting everyone you know. I was expecting a modest 6 for Thanksgiving one year, and through various changes in other people's plans, ended up with 26 -- including a banjo player, a cellist, and a guitarist who entertained us into the night. It was a great party, and everyone was grateful to be included and on excellent guest behavior. They understood we were all in this together -- alone on a holiday -- and everyone was open and charming to one another. - pamh
My favorite Thanksgiving ever my freshman year of college when I was living in the dorm. Everyone went home but my mom came to me. She slept in my roommates bed and the morning of thanksgiving she went to the store and bought all kinds of Thanksgiving foods that could be made in the microwave. It was amazing and delicious, if a little cold. We spent the rest of the day walking around the deserted campus in the cold and watching 80's movies. One of my favorite memories with my mom. - ktdid
My husband and I use the holiday as an opportunity to make a fabulous, four-course, five-star meal that doesn't include turkey or stuffing or pumpkin pie. Last year's menu was a baby greens salad with panko-crusted broiled chevre, french onion tart, garlic soup, and crab legs with red-pepper and white-wine butter sauce. Crab legs are so awesome that I think that might become it's own tradition. :-) - urbancricket
When I was in my first year if grad. school, my then new husband and I were not able to get back home for thanksgiving. I was complaining about it to one of my professors and he said to me in a very stern tone, "You are with your family here, now--you will celebrate with your family." I have never forgotten that and it changed the way we did thanksgiving. We have developed a set of traditions that are our traditions (including spending thanksgiving with each other, although we tend to have people over for a leftovers party later in the weekend, and often do a dessert ting on thanksgiving night with some good friends). We always do a turkey and our traditional trimmings (including my grandmother's dressing recipe, smashed potatoes, homemade noodles, spinach gratin, and pumpkin cake because neither of us likes pie); a special morning meal to hold us until the big event, and we watch the A&E Pride and Prejudice while things are cooking (added this in the late 1990s) and the George C. Scott Christmas Carol after dinner (added this around 1988). Even 30 years later, we really look forward to our traditions together. We really use that weekend to relax and reconnect and get ready to go into the final push of grading as the academic term comes to an end. It is a peaceful weekend that we are both very thankful for--and I include my thanks to that professor for what he said so many years ago. - kariwk

We live 6 hours away from home and usually can not make it back for Thanksgiving! So, with the help my Brother and Sister in law (who also live in Chicago) we started Friendsgiving, where we eat early, share laughs and drinks, all while watching Christmas Movies all day! This is year 5, and still going strong! - Jbrighterthanyou
I have to say, though, that one of the nicest Thanksgivings I ever had was when I wasn't dating anyone, wasn't invited anywhere, and just spent it alone. I made myself a delicious roast chicken dinner with vegetables, drank a few beers (or some wine?), watched three great movies on dvd, and just relaxed with absolutely no obligations. There's something to be said for giving yourself a day to do absolutely nothing... - epindc
One of my best Thanksgivings (as an adult) was when I spent the middle part of the day cooking and serving at a nearby "soup kitchen", after which (it was sunny and not too cold) me & my bike headed out to the bike trails and rode our little hearts out. Now, with no friends or relatives, my husband and I will just be glad to have a long weekend to get school work done (semester is almost over) and eat some turkey. I guess my tradition is to enjoy what is ... ! - abcornwell
I'm old fashioned. I love going home and spending the day cooking in the kitchen with my mom and brother while my dad blasts opera and Janice Joplin on the stereo and my husband reads us headlines from the paper. Then our kvetching and plump relatives descend on the house and eat enough food to last most people a month. My brother is a fabulous chef and his crimini stuffing sits side by side with my grandma's sweet potato-orange juice - marshmallow concoction. We never mention gratitude or what we are thankful for. Being with family, even the irritating and crazy ones, is enough to be thankful for without having to say it out loud. -thorndale
Even though my siblings and I no longer live at home, we make a point to always come home to mom's and be together. Our family likes to combine both cultures (American and Chinese) by serving the usual turkey, honey baked ham, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce AND a side of sticky rice and egg rolls. =) my mom makes the best sticky rice, so that's the "gotta-have" dish at our Thanksgiving gathering. - pier723
I think the thing about Thanksgiving, in particular, is to make it something YOU enjoy -- it's not the traditions that are important, it's how you feel. Even if you love traditions and being with family and can't this year, you can find SOMETHING that pleases you as a substitute. You can always get back to the traditions another year. -SherryBinNH
Break out the board games and the bubbly - one of my favorite Thanksgivings was me, my friend Abby and my Dad like little orphans at a horrible chain restaurant followed by a few friends wandering in later that night to get completely trashed playing Trivial Pursuit. Life isn't always a Hallmark card but with the right "oh what the hell" spirit, it is always an adventure! - Keough

Thanks to everyone for being part of the Apartment Therapy community and have a wonderful day!

Image: Leela Cyd Ross/The Kitchn

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