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Thanksgiving Traditions

Does your family have a signature dish, a once-a-year centerpiece for the table? Or do you do something different, rather than the traditional at-home meal, like volunteering or a dinner out? Please share some of your traditions for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a traditional celebration of thanks, for food, for family, for community, that dates back to the first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts. For many families, the day is celebrated pretty much the same every year.

My own experience isn't traditional. I moved far away from home for college and have spent at least half of my Thanksgivings at friends' houses, or working the holiday for various newspapers. Every Thanksgiving was a little different.

I've had traditional Italian Thanksgiving meals in Michigan, with five or six separate courses, all ending with anisette. And southern-style Thanksgivings in Athens, GA, and in Atlanta and Jacksonville, FL, complete with okra, greens, cornbread stuffing and pecan pie. I learned to cook in my 20s, so brought some of these dishes back to New England with me when I came back home. (not the okra)

For a long time, my mother hosted the dinner on the Cape, then in Rhode Island. Then it switched to my sister in Providence. More recently, my sister-in-law in Narragansett, has taken over the hosting, with a larger table for extended family members. We all bring something to share, meal than it has been in the past, which I like. My sister-in-law is Swedish, so her culture now figures in to the dinner.

What are your traditions at Thanksgiving? Are they like my family's, changing through the years, or is it a dinner at the grandparents every year? And what makes the traditon? Please share your traditons.

Shannon Pataky November 21, 2011 at 08:16 PM
big joke in my mom's house is that my specialty is the cranberry sauce. I have literally caught the toaster on fire, so the easiest thing for me to do that wouldn't blow something up was open a can of cranberry sauce and put it in a bowl. Well, slightly annoyed and embarassed, the first year I did this I opened the can, ran a butter knife around the inside of the can and served the sauce in can shape standing upright in the bowl. This, of course, looked horrible with the beautiful spead before us, so I've done it every year since.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) November 21, 2011 at 08:27 PM
It's those dinners that everyone remembers! I made lamb for friends on St. Patrick's Day, and my dog reached up and grabbed half of it off the plate, leaving the veggies and potatoes alone. And that's all I heard about for the next five years. The party where the dog stole the leg of lamb.

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