I remember when I was little I would always look forward to this time of year. Not just because of the colors of the leaves, or the crispness in the air, but because this is when the holiday season starts. That is why Thanksgiving will always be one of my favorites. Everyone seems to have their own traditions and things that they do on Thanksgiving; however, my family never really had specific traditions, we usually just play it by ear. Some years we would go up to my Grandma’s house, other years we would go to my other grandparents’ house, and then there were years we would stay home and have a small Thanksgiving dinner with just the four of us. There was one year that we had almost the whole family over at our house. All of my cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents were crammed into our tiny house. We had a huge dinner and afterwards everyone hung out until they all had to go home. It is one of the most memorable Thanksgiving dinners in my mind.
There’s no lying when it’s said that the first Thanksgiving was a million times different than it is today. I remember learning about and hearing the story of the first Thanksgiving in elementary school. The pilgrims came all the way from Europe and their first year here was hard and devastating, but then as springtime came around they were visited by a friendly Native American named Squanto. Squanto decided to help the pilgrims by teaching them how to grow their own corn. He also taught them how to hunt, fish, and to avoid poisonous plants. The pilgrims thrived with his advice and guidance, so when their first successful harvest came to a close they decided to have a celebratory feast. They invited the Native Americans and had corn, deer, and other similar foods.
Today our Thanksgiving traditions are vastly different than they were back in the pilgrims’ time and there are as many different traditions as there are food options at a Thanksgiving feast. Some families have their whole family over and celebrate together, while others have just a small little dinner with their immediate family. Our menus have also evolved over the years. We typically have turkey or ham, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and a dessert of some sort along with dishes that are unique to each family and each year. Some families even go out to restaurants for dinner instead of staying home, which is nice because there is no cleanup. After dinner, some will go out and play football while others go out shopping or play games together. I think that it’s so cool and amazing that our traditions have evolved and changed and become something unique to each of us.
Even though our Thanksgiving day is different than what it was back in the early pilgrim times, the core values are still the same. We still value the hard work everyone put into making the feast and we still gather around the table with our loved ones, related or not, despite our differences and challenges. Even though the traditions of Thanksgiving have changed drastically we can still hold onto and honor those values.