I love Thanksgiving – the time together with family and the traditions and memories that we make each year. As I think about our Thanksgiving traditions now, I have to laugh a bit because ten years ago I would have never imagined doing all the things I do today. But that’s life. From getting to married to having over in-laws and church members to now growing our family with kids, I have continued with some of the old traditions of my childhood, while also adding and creating a whole bunch of new ones. All these activities and foods with its mish-mash of cultures, flavors and noises can make for a wild Thanksgiving, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
1. An (East) Indian Thanksgiving Breakfast
To be clear, my mother’s family is from India. We do not have any Native American heritage, so this breakfast tradition doesn’t have a direct historical connection. Nevertheless, it’s what we’ve always done since I was a little girl. I still remember waking up to the delicious smell of tikhi puris (a popular Gujarati bread) on Thanksgiving morning. My mom would get up very early to have them fresh and hot when we came down, and my sister and I would dip them in a delicious concoction of plain yogurt and chili pepper. It’s not for everyone, I know, but it is my favorite food in the whole world. Now that I’m a mom, the tradition has been passed on to me (and since my toddler son is up super early anyways, I’m already awake). While we eat, we watch the Thanksgiving Macy’s Day Parade, which leads me to my next tradition…
2. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
I don’t know what it is about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but I love it. I look forward to it every year. I enjoy seeing the marching bands perform, watching all the big floats and the special Broadway performances. We always watch it as a family and there is usually a running commentary on who likes what, which performance was “the best” and there’s also a ranking for the weirdest part of the parade. That sort of banter in our home is fun, even more so now that I get to enjoy the parade with my son and see the wonder and awe in his eyes. I’m pretty sure we will keep watching this parade until we die.
3. Trivia Games
Most of the mid-morning and afternoon is spent cooking. But, certainly, there’s not enough space for everyone to be in the kitchen. SO, to keep everyone in the same space and engaging with each other, we play trivia games while cooking. If you’re not in the kitchen, you are either the designated reader of said trivia questions or a participant. This keeps things fun and engaging for everybody. Some of our favorite trivia games over the years have been the Brain Quest Trivia (great for elementary kids) and Balderdash. This year, we will be trying out Smarty Party and Wits & Wagers.
4. Thanksgiving Dinner
Food is kind of a big thing in our home, and Thanksgiving dinner is a feast. We spend days cooking in preparation for this meal. There are the homemade pumpkin crescents and sausage and herb stuffing as well as the cranberry relish, the sweet potato casserole that we make from purple sweet potatoes that you can only find in Asian grocery stores (they’re naturally sweet so you use very little sugar!), creamed peas and, of course, the turkey. No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without sparkling juice, and we always begin our meal with a toast of thankfulness to all the family and friends present. Dinner is then promptly followed by pumpkin pie and pecan pie with whipped cream and ice cream and coffee. It doesn’t matter that we’re already super stuffed. That’s just how we’ve always done it.
5. The Thanksgiving Tree
I think it’s also good to have some sort of time or space for everyone to express gratitude on this holiday. We’ve tried different things over the year, and this year I want to try something new. I’ve bought a thanksgiving banner with a tree cut out and leaves, and everyone who comes over will be asked to write something they’re thankful for on a leaf. They can do it anytime throughout the day. I got this idea from a friend, and I heard that the kids are usually more eager to go first, but that the adults eventually warm up after reading some of the kids’ notes. No one has to sign their name. But we will have one of the kids read aloud all the leaves at the dinner table, so we can still hear all the different things people are grateful for.
6. Post-Thanksgiving Flautas
Finally, there’s always the question of what to do with all that leftover turkey, right? Well at our home, we roll it all up in tortillas and have a big flauta party for our friends and neighbors. Seriously, it feels like everyone we know comes over for turkey flautas. There’s huge vats of salsa and guacamole, and people eat them while they’re still piping hot. Delicious! If you’ve never had a flauta before, now is the time to give it a try! Plus, it’s a great way to see everyone that you couldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving with.