Thanksgiving Traditions

Norman-Rockwell-Thanksgiving-thanksgiving-2927689-375-479Here I am getting ready for the second holiday season without Tom. In 35 years of marriage we have only missed two wedding anniversaries, two Christmas’s and one Thanksgiving and one New Year. Not bad for a military wife, but then he only served active duty for part of our marriage before serving the rest of his career in the PA National Guard. Lets face it, although I am proud of the National Guard and all the work they do in their states and across the sea, it is a lot easier being married to a weekend warrior then a full-time soldier.

In that 35 yrs we have made some new traditions while keeping some of the old traditions. When I was growing up we did not have many old family traditions.  Coming from a military family and a grandmother with “itchy” feet my father’s family was thrown to the four corners of the earth. My mother being from Germany never celebrated Thanksgiving so it was a new experience for her. My father was raised in the depression had a very difficult life so I always thought it was his dream to have the traditional Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.

Dad would always buy the biggest turkey, no matter how tight the household budget. He would cook everything in that turkey including the bone for his turkey soup. To this day I cannot eat stuffing, turkey soup or homemade gravy after I helped him one Thanksgiving – he literally used all the “extra’s” that come with the turkey, for flavor he would say, but that did not encourage me.

Now mom on the other hand was not a turkey connoisseur , I can still hear her say why do we have to eat turkey? But always wanting to become American she adapted. I am sure dad taught her everything she needed to know to make the best roast turkey this side of the Atlantic Ocean. She never did understood the concept of eating turkey only once a year. I always assumed they compromised for Christmas by having ham instead of turkey or the Christmas goose.

There is a clip in a movie “Avalon” which is a movie about Polish Immigrants that reminds me of my mother. Change the accent to German and I can almost hear my mother say “I don’t understand this holiday…we don’t eat turkey all year why do I have it eat now”.

movie clip ~ I will never understand this holiday

So our Thanksgiving holiday was a table filled with all the traditional Thanksgiving Day foods and our family of 5 would eat leftovers it seemed for weeks, although I am sure it was only days afterward.  My sister and I would normally argue over who was to wash or dry the many dishes dad left for us.  Dad would say you can tell a good cook by how many dishes and pots he used…well if that is true, then my dad was a master chef!

Tom comes from a traditional American family, big dinner of turkey and ham, tables filled with food that everyone brought, family gathered around, cousins running all over the place, along with a kids table, I am sure. He was amazed when I told him I was not that fond of turkey. Poor guy did not realize he was not going to have turkey for Christmas, ham would become our  traditional Christmas dinner. He never complained as long as he had his homemade pumpkin pie, his favorite holiday pie. Being newly married and wanting to impress him since he said his mother never made homemade pies I made my Aunt Marty’s pumpkin pie from scratch…from then on I would bake all my pies from scratch using love as my secret ingredient. For 35 yrs, we would have pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and one year I surprised him and made him one for his birthday!

The only time we did not have turkey was for our first Thanksgiving, we had chicken. This was before you could buy turkey breasts or smaller turkeys. I would start baking my pies the day before and instead of homemade stuffing we had stove top. Although I do remember the first time I made homemade stuffing I burnt it…don’t ask me how, I followed the directions and sticking to my convictions I used store-bought broth instead of making my own.

It is time to make new traditions but keeping the many happy memories of the past Thanksgivings.  I remember my parents, my brother and Tom with tears, laughter, and smiles. My traditions are not like the Norman Rockwell pictures or from what is shown in holiday movies.  But like how all traditions are started, both my old and the new ones my children and I will make together, they all start from the love I have for them.

My children and I will still have turkey with all the trimmings and instead of pumpkin pie this year I am making a pumpkin roll. Instead of football it will be watching all the traditional Christmas movies, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, It Happened On Fifth Avenue”, “Christmas in Connecticut” and to keep things silly “A Christmas Story”. 

What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? I would enjoy hearing about all the different ways we celebrate, including my Canadian friends.  For my friends across the world, do you also celebrate a thanksgiving holiday?

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About Patty B

My life centers around my faith in God and my family. www.thoughtsfromanamericanwoman.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Family Life, Home, Reflections, Special Moments and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Thanksgiving Traditions

  1. May you and yours have many blessings to remember and to make in the holidays ahead.

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  2. D watson says:

    Such nice remembrances to write about.   I am sharing your tears and smiles now!  LOVE YOU ALL,  DORETTA

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  3. We had the basic Turkey dinner and my mother made apple and pumpkin pies. She was always the last to sit down and was up and down serving this or doing that. For my family it was the same minus the pumpkin pies. I tried on a couple of occasions and just couldn’t get it right.. always soggy crust on bottom… There was likely some way to avoid that but pre-computer days I never did find out.. so apple pies it was and is…. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Patty … Diane xo

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    • Patty B says:

      I used to make my own pie crusts until Pillsbury came out with their roll out crust – I love it! My mother a great baker could never get the crust right but told me after I baked my first pie that my crust was better than my Aunt Marty’s who was a prize winner cook – now that is a compliment! Not sure what I did, just followed the directions. Can’t think of anything I ever did to not make the crust soggy. Oh well apple pies are delicious so it is a win win situation!

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  4. We attend church service in the morning, and then we get together with my siblings and their families/friends. We play team games, like “Catch Phrase,” which is our favorite. My sister and I trade off as hostesses each year — one hosting Thanksgiving and the other hosting Christmas. I love planning and cooking for these holidays!

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    • Patty B says:

      Another gamer! I love to play board games but just me and my daughter play. That is a lovely tradition, maybe I can start that this year since both kids have off from work.

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      • Patty B says:

        I also like the idea of going to church on Thanksgiving. Here we have community services where it is held in a different church each year rotating the place so you get a different experience, from Presbyterian, to Methodist, Baptist to Catholic – all worshiping the great God of our universe – the night before Thanksgiving.

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  5. Sheryl says:

    Since both my husband and I are from Pennsylvania we have a very traditional Pennsylvania Thanksgiving-turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce–and lots and lots of pies. I hope that you and your children have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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    • Patty B says:

      Ah so having so many pies are a Pennsylvania tradition!! When we moved here I thought our family was strange because we always had apple pie. I never had pumpkin pie till I moved here. Most tables had fruit pies, pumpkin pie, mincemeat pie etc…we had one apple pie! 😉

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  6. Patty, my family loves turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. Their enthusiasm makes cooking it a joy.I’m thankful for a thankful family.

    Thanksgiving blessings ~ Wendy ❀

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    • Patty B says:

      Funny, I forgot to mention the one thing Tom never cared for was cranberry sauce – the main staple of a Thanksgiving dinner! He did love his stuffing and yams. 🙂 You are right our families enthusiasm makes cooking the meal a joy. I never cared for yams but would make them for Tom (the only one who ate them) because I knew he appreciated it when I did.

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  7. Megan says:

    I prefer Ham over Turkey too :). I have lots of fond family Thanksgiving memories, now that I’m a Mommy I’m looking forward to passing on some of them to my kids – and making some of our own.

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  8. The most ‘specific’ tradition is the getting together. Lots of people. Lots of food. As my nuclear family grew and expanded…..we lost our own traditions to other families. But that doesn’t diminish the importance. Now my family has grown so much that it warrants it’s own feast at my daughter’s house. 🙂

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  9. We don’t have Thanksgiving in Aussie Land Patty but I wish we did have a special day to Thank God for all His blessings. I think it’s wonderful that you have this special time in America but than I think Christian Americans are wonderful in your outreach to glorify God’s, you have the most Christian Bloggers in the World and the best Blogs too.

    I laughed Patty when you said you baked all your pies from Scratch, I will leave a link for you, it is one I Posted not long after I started Blogging, you will understand why when you read it, I think the story came from America originally..

    Scratch – http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/scratch/

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

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    • Patty B says:

      Oh Anne this was hilarious and I love the message at the end. I should have known it would come from Jeanne. I posted it on facebook. What a nice compliment to say for all the Christian Americans, but you know what Christians all over the world are wonderful disciples in spreading His Word and building churches. Gods people are blessed with the power of the Holy Spirit!

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      • As I explained on my Blog Patty, Scratch was not from Jeanne, I posted it for her as a gift, I received it from a friend years ago. In those days I had an e-mail Ministry and was in contact with many people all over the World, some were close friends and others new friends or contacts I had met through my other Ministries, it continued for many years than I started Blogging 4 years ago and could not do both. I was also having a lot of Computer problems at the time and didn’t want my friends and contacts to be affected by them. I still have many e-mail stories from those years which I like to share with others, so I Post them and leave links when I can.

        Christian Love – Anne.

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      • Patty B says:

        how did I miss that? 😉 Either way it was a great story and I thank you for sharing that with us. You have a wonderful ministry that does indeed reach far and wide, I am so thankful to God for putting you in our lives.

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  10. Growing up we always had turkey and ham for dinner with all the fixings. Usually there were four pumpkin pies made. My sister and her family would join us and sometimes we had friends join us as well. After marriage it has been primarily just our immediate family getting together due to the extended family living far away. We occasionally have turkey (although I usually only buy pieces and place vegetables on a tray with a rack on top for the turkey pieces to rest on). Sometimes we have chicken. Usually we have prime rib roast for Christmas but we have had a beef roast for Thanksgiving. Our two adult children join hubby and me. We have pumpkin pie and sometimes a second pie of apple. We don’t watch football but rather play a board game…monopoly, clue, sorry, or chinese checkers.
    Have a blessed holiday. Debra

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  11. utesmile says:

    Wishing you a good Thanksgiving. We in England and Germany don’t do Thanksgiving but we eat turkey at Christmas instead! I do like it very much ! Since it is only my boys and me a big turkey is too much and we eat till Easter… as we joke! enjoy your turkey and your family to celebrate with you !

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    • Patty B says:

      I was not sure if turkey was big Germany or not, when I was younger and lived in Germany my mother served goose, is that still popular today? She never did like turkey too much.

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      • utesmile says:

        Goose is popular but my mum never liked that, so we had just another Sunday roast at Christmas. The dessert was always more special when I was a kid. 🙂

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  12. Patty B says:

    The desserts are still special!! 😉 I do miss the German desserts though, my Tante Bille made the best Plum Torte, even after all these years I can still taste it.

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  13. crystal sponenberg says:

    patty, i do miss seeing you, we’ll have to get togather soon, tradition use to be going to my aunts house for thanksgiving and christmas,now with my family its fit as many chairs in the kitchen or stand at the counterLOL, lately the kids have their own get togathers, but always show up to visit, got to have turkey on thanksgiving and ham for christmas and easter, mashed taters, gravy, any time of vegtables(copes corn, green beans, yams baked with brown sugar and marshmellows on top. daughter in law makes(pink stuff LOL) coolwhip jello fruit and sometimes mini marshmellows,pumpkin pie apple pie. , steves fiancie makes maccoroni & cheese, my tradition ever since i can remember is making sure i got the neck piece and the heart(I KNOW I”M STRANGE)enjoy your holidays and tell the kids hi from me

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    • Patty B says:

      I always knew you were strange, but then I am strange too so that is probably why like each other so much!! lol Have a wonderful thanksgiving, I know you always have a house full, what a blessing to have so many loved ones near. I know so many whose children are far away. Try not to over eat – you sure do have a spread planned! Thanksgiving blessings my friend.

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