Family Traditions

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday and were able to celebrate with family and friends. It’s that special time of year when we have the opportunity to come together and share with our families the things we are most thankful for.

Last week, I shared with you a few of the most important things I’m thankful for, and this week I’d like to take a few moments and share with you some of my childhood memories from Thanksgivings past.

Growing up in a small town and having a big family, some of my earliest Thanksgiving memories revolve around preparing the Thanksgiving meal and all of the work that went along with the day.

My mom always got up before the sun and cooked a giant bird. Another thing she always did was make her own stuffing. I remember her laying slices of homemade bread out on cheesecloth and covering it with another layer of cheesecloth to keep the dust away a week ahead of the big day. Then, the night before, we’d break the bread into small pieces and add the spices for the stuffing that she would later use to fill the bird.

We never really set our alarms on Thanksgiving morning. The sweet smells from the kitchen wafting through the house woke us all very early.

Mom usually started the bird around 6 in the morning, then she made the mashed potatoes and potato salad shortly thereafter.

The pies were cooked throughout the morning in shifts so they would be ready for dessert. Apple, cherry, pumpkin and pecan--she made them all.

One of the best things about having such a large family when we were little was that we’d always have the extended family over. It was quite an event with six families and gaggles of children running everywhere. There was always more food than we could eat, since everyone brought a side dish to share.

Our grandparents always came over a little early. Granny made her famous giblet gravy. While it doesn’t sound appetizing when you think about it now, it didn’t bother us back then. Perhaps it was because we didn’t know exactly what was in it.

We always had our Thanksgiving meal at our house around noon so that everyone could go to their respective in-laws for an evening meal as well. This always meant that our house was full of children, as all the cousins came over for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Because we lived in Arizona, the weather was usually nice enough that the kids could eat outside on picnic tables, card tables, a folding table and chairs. After dinner, the kids would run and play in the yard and the grown-ups would sit and visit and watch football.

To me, this was the epitome of what the first Thanksgiving must have been like, minus the football, of course.

One of the final highlights of our Thanksgiving Day was that all the cousins put their names into a hat and we each drew names for which cousin we’d buy a Christmas gift for. Then on Christmas, we’d all meet at our grandparents’ house for dinner and to exchange gifts.

All in all, we had some really great family holiday traditions growing up.

If you’d like to share some of your family holiday traditions, past or present, I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you. Have a great weekend!

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on Twitter at @CDGLA or email: