November 19, 2016

Five Football-Free Thanksgiving Traditions

I love Thanksgiving.

I love the season it's in. (Fall is my favorite.)

I love the homey nature of it. 

I love that commercialism has never managed to take it over.

I love that it focuses on food and gratitude.

For the record, I'm not opposed to football. I'm a lifelong Mitten State girl. I think we have some football team that plays every year on Thanksgiving Day. If other people in my house want to make the game part of the festivities, that's fine with me. I'll be in the kitchen with the pies.

I mentioned in my last post that when I was growing up, my mom had specific expectations about what constituted a "proper" Sunday dinner. 

For me, these five traditions are what make a "proper" pigskin required.

1. Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember, by Barbara Rainey. This is our family's go-to Thanksgiving book, and we read it every year over the course of the season. Filled with rich details about the voyage to the new world (condensed version: this was no Carnival cruise), life for the Pilgrims (condensed version: this was no "woo hoo, we got away from jolly old England" vacation), and the history of Thanksgiving as a national holiday (condensed version: Sarah Josepha Hale was one determined woman), this instant heirloom also offers President Lincoln's entire 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation and journal pages for recording your family's personal thanksgivings. 

2. George Winston's "Thanksgiving" from December. Always the musical backdrop for our Thanksgiving dinner. Winston's Autumn album is a nice long-play option, too. Soothing, somehow autumnal music, and no lyrics to compete with conversation.

3."Turkey Terrific" sandwiches. I love Thanksgiving dinner, and I love Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. And the best delivery system I know of for those leftovers is a sandwich that puts them all together. Food Network featured the "Turkey Terrific" sandwich from Provisions restaurant in Nantucket one year on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate: That I'm Thankful For," and the 3/4 of my family that will have anything to do with turkey got hooked immediately. (My younger daughter would be a vegetarian except that she's not all that crazy about vegetables.) 

Just pile leftover turkey and dressing in between a couple slices of sturdy bread you've spread with cranberry sauce (or, as I do, with cranberry "butter" I make by cooking cranberries and a little sugar together and then putting the whole mixture through the food mill). Yes, I know it sounds weird. But so do lots of things before you find out how wonderful they are.

4. A Charlie Brown Thankgsgiving and The Mayflower Voyagers. Leave it to the Peanuts gang to tell the Thanksgiving story in their own fun-but-factual inimitable fashion. Even my teenagers love to watch this double feature. For one thing, it makes them thankful they weren't Pilgrims.

5. Talk around the table. It's hard to beat the classic "go around and tell something you're thankful for" standby. I love to hear what people come up with on the spur-of-the-moment (unless they anticipate the exercise and prepare their remarks ahead of time). But last year, I changed things up and incorporated Thanksgiving Scriptures with our table name cards. Each card had (appropriately enough) the guest's name on it, along with a Bible verse that related to the day. Each verse contained a word that started with one letter of the word "thanks." It helped that we had six guests to go with the six letters; I'm not creative enough to know what I would have done if we'd had more or fewer than six. Anyway. We started with whoever had "T" and ended with whoever had "S," and it was all very pleasant, if possibly a little Martha Stewart-meets-Sunday School teacher-ish. One of my new year's goals as a blogger is to figure out how to make those free printables every other blogger in the world offers, but in the meantime, here's a glimpse of the Scriptures I used...

Got a non-negotiable Thanksgiving tradition of your own to share? I'd love to hear about it in a comment or on Facebook...or, better yet, over on Syncopated Mama, at my friend Lisa's 5 After 5 party that's all about Thanksgiving traditions.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving! 
(And if football is part of it for you, here's hoping your team wins.)

**This post may have been shared at some of these lovely link parties.**


  1. I'm so excited that you were able to get this post up!! That book sounds so cool - I love how it's got all that interesting stuff to read about and then the spot in the back to use as a journal for each year - that's just so neat! And I know you've shared George Winston before, but luckily I was reading it right when we were working on all our library holds and renewals before our weekly trip to pick up the new goodies waiting for us, because I just typed "George Winston" right into the search box and then proceeded to put about a zillion CDs of his on hold for us to enjoy. In the meantime, I've went and created a playlist of him on youtube and we're listening to him tickle the ivories right now - sooooo soothing! Ha - what were we doing just a few minutes ago? Watching Charlie Brown! I'm sure we'll watch both those episodes a few more times before Thursday, as well. I LOVE your scripture graphic and you've already done the hard part of making the printable, so remind me to tell you how to do those last couple of steps and make it into one! Have a lovely weekend, my friend, and of course, a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    1. Thank you so much...enjoy the (other) George! ;) I saw your email about the printable...there you go again, making life better for me. Bless you! I can't wait to look into it once I finish putting together L's family birthday party. Thanks for hosting 5 After 5 and in general for being your wonderful self.

  2. Daughter Elizabeth, You got it right in how to truly be thankful. I'd like to take credit, but you have it down pat and I applaud you for your earnest desire to give Thanksgiving the honor it deserves. Happy Thanksgiving! Love, Mama

    1. Thank you, Mama. You are a precious model of gratitude and grace to me, and I love you very much. I also love that we share a devotion to and fondness for Thanksgiving!

  3. lovely Thanksgiving traditions! We don't really have any traditions other than making sure my mom always makes her legendary stuffing haha. Other than that, I just like enjoying time with family and relaxing. We also do a group thing where we say what we're thankful for and my grandma usually leads a prayer. wishing you a lovely thanksgiving and holiday season!

    stop by and chat with me :)

    1. Well, "legendary stuffing" on its own sounds like a pretty complete tradition package right there! :) Your Thanksgiving plans sound lovely. Blessings to you and your family...thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. I'm a little late to the Thanksgiving table...been out of town and offline much of the week...yes, it's been nice. ;)

    Just heard of Barbara Rainey's Thanksgiving book for the first time this year and it sounds like a tradition I need to add to our family. And thanks for the reminder of the importance of smooth, calming background music. You can't beat Charlie Brown and the gang for entertainment - I love the Thanksgiving and Christmas specials!

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and are gearing up for the Christmas season!!

    1. Aw, Tracey, thanks so much for fitting this into your busy back-into-the-routine schedule...I'm honored! I think you would, truly, love that Rainey Thanksgiving book. Perhaps you'll want to file the idea away for next year? :) In the meantime, have a blessed Advent season and a joyous Christmas with your sweet ones!


I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year-old that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!