Unique Thanksgiving Traditions


Photo Credit: pixy.org Pumpkin Pie

Food. Traditions. Family. On a normal year, the whole family gathers on Thanksgiving to eat food and continue the traditions of activities and thankfulness. Across the nation, 96 percent of families in America celebrate Thanksgiving, and they all celebrate differently. With COVID-19 interrupting this year, it is unsafe for people to gather and have a normal holiday; however, there are ways you can reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus while still enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday.

Nearly every American is familiar with the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie, but the traditional meal could use a little spice here and there. Every family is not the same and neither are their traditions. My family likes to invite the extended family and friends over for Thanksgiving dinner, and with all the people, we have a tradition to cook multiple turkeys. One is smoked, another keg roasted, and another deep fried. They all have a very unique flavor by how it’s cooked. At the end of the day, we vote on which turkey was the best of the year. Other families have their own food traditions, and they are all special and unique. Some include really large groups of people, like the tradition mentioned next.

“Every year, besides this one, we have a pie party with the whole neighborhood and we all bring our thanksgiving pies and we have a ping pong [and] Mario Kart tournament.” Jacob Dishman, Junior Class Vice President at Bingham High School said. “We also have a recipe which my mom always has to make because it has rum in it.”

Another tradition is to have everyone bake their own pie, so there is at least one pie for every person attending the dinner. They bring their pie to share with the whole family. Some families make it a tradition to not be “traditional” with their meal and will instead have a meal consisting of tamales or whatever the family would like for the year. Sometimes the traditional meal is not worth all the hassle, so they make a tradition of having anything but the normal. The Johnson family likes to skip the heavy meal and go for random snacks instead.

“[I] talked about what everyone wanted for Thanksgiving dinner. Made the grocery list,” Stephanie Johnson said. “Toast, jelly beans, popcorn, pretzel sticks, and a ping pong table with nasty fold up chairs.” 

My traditions are different from yours, and that’s what makes everyone’s traditions so special. 

Games and activities are a staple for every family on Thanksgiving. My family loves to turn on the Thanksgiving Day Parade while we’re preparing the sides, vegetables, chips and homemade dip, and all the other traditional sides. It’s exciting to see the creativity that people put into the floats, and since the parade is not demanding to watch, it’s perfect for while we’re cooking.

My dad’s side of the family has a tradition to always start a game of Risk the day of Thanksgiving. They gather all who want to play and start in the morning when the day is fresh, playing on the dinner table until it is time for Thanksgiving dinner. As soon as dinner is over, the game is picked up and played until the wee hours of the night. As any Risk player knows, the game is still afoot and is picked up the next morning and repeats the same process of barely pausing for the necessities. The same game is played for the entire weekend until there is a winner or everyone gives up. While some families like to stay indoors to enjoy the holiday, others like to get outside, like Charron Mason, a teacher at Bingham High School.

“We always get together at my mom’s house and in the morning we usually get up really early and … we go scouting. So we just, like, go and track animals and, you know, just go for big rides in the mountains on the four wheelers or depending on the weather sometimes in a big truck,” she said. “Then we come home and the boys watch football all day and the girls help the mom in the kitchen.”

The Clark family has a tradition where they will buy a newspaper from every gas station nearby and scour the Black Friday ads for good deals. Once they finish with one newspaper, they give it to the next family member who wants to look. Then the next day, whoever wants to wake up super early goes and shops for the good deals and watches the people who go insane over deals. Another popular tradition is to watch a Christmas movie, whether it be Charlie Brown or a Hallmark movie to ring in the Christmas season. 

While many of the traditions families normally would participate in have been interrupted, several can still be done, just with an added flair of safety. Wear masks extra vigilantly any time when not eating to avoid transmitting the virus to others accidentally. Do everything possible to social distance from anyone not in your household. If the weather is bearable, set up folding tables outside in the backyard or in a driveway so households can stay together but there is a lower risk of giving the virus to the others who are not from your household. Being outside is less risky than inside your house. The safest way to have Thanksgiving together with extended family is to do it virtually; set up FaceTime or Zoom so you can keep the family connected safely. Wash your hands extra often. Avoid traveling to other homes, but if you plan to have Thanksgiving together, please be careful.