February 2018

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Thanksgiving Traditions: Fondly Remembered

Thanksgiving Traditions Fondly Remembered

By: Kaitlyn Boland

Out of all the holidays in the year, Thanksgiving is the one that makes me reflect the most strongly about my family. My family gathers at my aunt and uncle’s house every November, and although things can be a little hectic while dinner is being put together, one of my favorite moments occurs when we all sit down together at the dining room table. Before we begin eating, each family member tells everyone what they are the most thankful for, and we go around the table until each family member has had a turn (the only member who does not share yet is my two-year old nephew, but I am excited for the day when he will partake in this family tradition).

Everybody listens to the family member while he/she is sharing, and no eating occurs while this event is happening. We begin by starting at one end of the table, and each family member shares until we reach the last person at the opposite end. There are things in our lives that we are all thankful for, such as homes to live in, food to eat, and of course the family that is gathered around all of us, but some of our sharing pertain to what we have been through within the past year. In 2013, my cousin shared that she was thankful for her daughter who she had given birth to a few weeks prior. This could not have been shared the year before because my little cousin was not a part of our family yet, but at that particular time, my cousin now had a beautiful baby girl to be thankful for. My Mom also shared that she was thankful simply to be there at the table with us last November, and this was something new that she was sharing with us. The week before Thanksgiving, she had undergone surgery after being diagnosed with breast cancer in October, and she shared with us how grateful she was to be able to be at my aunt and uncle’s house. This may have seemed a very simple thing to be thankful for, but this sense of thanks carried a deeper meaning for my Mom based on what she had recently endured.

I greatly enjoy this family tradition. It allows everyone to pause and reflect on what they have to be grateful for in their lives, and by sharing out loud what we are thankful for, the other family members can also realize why we are grateful for certain things. Each family member goes through his/her own unique journey throughout the year, and this journey gives us the opportunity to develop a sense of thanks for things we may not have been thankful for before. Each family member has his/her own unique thoughts and feelings, and sharing what we are thankful for allows us to express these thoughts and feelings and allows the other family members to recognize each person’s distinct perspectives.

There is another tradition that my family partakes in every year between Thanksgiving dinner and dessert. My three female cousins and I, as well as our spouses/boyfriends, partake in a holiday grab bag together each December, and we begin this tradition in November on Thanksgiving night. Over time, it has become my job to write each person’s name down on a slip of paper and place all of the pieces of paper into a bowl. The bowl is passed around, and each person picks a name (every year someone always ends up picking herself and needs to choose again). The name on the piece of paper is whom that person buys a gift for, and we all exchange the gifts the following month and find out who our secret gift giver is. I love that my family does this on Thanksgiving night. Even though one holiday is coming to a close, there is still a fun activity to take part in, and this activity also has the mysterious appeal of not immediately knowing whom your gift giver is. I hope this tradition endures in my family for many more years, and it is something I look forward to each Thanksgiving night.