Thanksgiving Traditions

We asked the Signature Mom Bloggers about their favorite way to spend Thanksgiving. Check out what they had to say and then tell us about your special tradition. Do you have a ritual for sharing what you’re thankful for? Do you cook a favorite recipe? We want to know!


Sandy Churchill

I have many fond Thanksgiving memories. For instance, taking a moment to reflect on and share highlights from the previous year. Or the time my nephew showed me how to correctly throw a football. We’ve embraced the creative challenges, such as making place cards and Native American-style story cloths that illustrate our “most thankfuls.” And then there’s the practice of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in our pajamas before the hustle and bustle of finishing the cider squash or other dishes we tote to both sets of in-laws for double dinners that last long into the night.

But the tradition that popped first into my mind is quite simple: making pumpkin cookies. This recipe was gifted to me by my Aunt Geri on my wedding day. Over the years, I have honed and tweaked it, and it has become our family’s much-cherished Thanksgiving tradition. The milk in the icing became lemon juice blended with confectioners’ sugar. I doubled the raisins and changed the walnuts to pecans.

My oldest daughter used to request a “punkin cookie,” standing on tiptoe to peer at the confections cooling on the counter the day before Thanksgiving. Each of us would steal a few “to taste-test” or “to sample the consistency of the icing” while watching the parade on TV. This is always the most-requested, must-have item we bring to each Thanksgiving celebration. It is tradition and fun and sharing and sweetness and memories all wrapped into one. And for that, I am thankful.

Janice Johnson-Plumer

What I enjoy most about Thanksgiving is being with my family. Since I have been married for the last 16 years, I have shared the holiday with both my family and my husband’s family, traveling to multiple gatherings in one day. At times it’s tough because family members don’t want you to leave!

Since I don’t have a large family we visit with my family first. When my mother was alive she cooked every Thanksgiving and she always cooked for an army. Although there were only eight of us, there was always enough food for twenty. My mother would always forget something in the oven that she didn’t get to serve or wouldn’t have enough room for all the desserts, leaving some uneaten. That was her way. I will miss that this year, as she has passed on. My sister will cook this year and we will go there to eat.

Then we would head over to my in-laws’ in Easton or to my husband’s aunt’s house in Boston. This year his cousin is expecting so it’s a combined shower and Thanksgiving dinner.

But no matter where we are, we always watch the Macy’s parade, eat too much and sometimes end up falling asleep.

Mary Morris 

My family’s Thanksgiving traditions are simple. I wake up with my kids and have something special for breakfast like eggs or pancakes. It is nothing too fancy, but it’s not the usual bagel, yogurt or cereal.  It’s a breakfast that actually requires at least one stove burner to ignite!

The second thing we do is watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I am always amazed by the talented bands, singers and performers. Many years they are braving cold temperatures and high winds in nothing more than leotards or flimsy costumes, and yet they always have big smiles. They seem so grateful to be a part of this huge tradition. It must be an incredible honor to be asked. I think I get more excited about the parade than my kids do, although my son delights in the character balloons.

We then have dinner with my parents and my sister. I am so thankful to be surrounded by my family and enjoy a hot delicious meal. Thanksgiving is certainly a day to feel very grateful for the people in your life.

Heather Desmond O’Neill

For the last few years on Thanksgiving Eve we have visited the Enchanted Village at Jordan’s Furniture in Avon, MA.  My grandmother, mother, sister, brother and his family, and my husband and kids meet at the furniture super store and take the token family photo to commemorate the evening.  The kids love running through the display and especially love when it “snows.”  We end the evening with the holiday laser light show filled with bright lights and holiday music. It’s a fantastic time to go because it’s usually desolate, which is great when you are trying to maneuver 92-year-old grandma and two 3-year old toddlers. It’s been a great way for our family to officially kick off the holiday season!

Tanya Pimental

The crisp fall weather of November is my favorite and Thanksgiving has always been my husband’s favorite holiday. We don’t have any real traditions in our family that stand out except spending special time with family.  We usually fit in some crafting and my oldest daughter has taken to making holiday-themed table name tags for folks. My kiddos love Grammie’s candy carrots that have become a staple of the meal.  Chocolate Cream pie is also a must. And for me, I love the post-meal walk we take. I dig out my camera and over the last few years, I have gotten some great shots of my kids down on the beach near my in-laws’ home.  It’s become our tradition to walk off dinner before dessert and then indulge in the must-have late afternoon nap!  There is a special glow in the air on holidays that are spent with those we love that is hard to describe, but it’s what makes my heart happy.

Martianne Stanger

Several years ago, our family purchased the Draw Write Now series of handwriting and drawing books, one of which has Native Americans in it.  So, our son asked us to help him draw First Thanksgiving scenes. Since then, it has turned into a bit of a tradition to make such murals, as well as creating a Thanksgiving Cornucopia where we note our daily thanks during the days leading up to Thanksgiving. We also tend to enjoy a lot of dramatic play based on the stories of the Pilgrims and Native People, which this year has been supplemented by stories the children have heard while listening to their latest favorite audiobook, Jim Henty reading Stories of the Pilgrims.  Reading other picture books together, visiting the Forefather’s Monument and hitting the Thanksgiving festivities in Plymouth are also high on our yearly list of family activities.  All that and, of course, feasting and time with extended family make for a rich and blessed Thanksgiving season for us!

Rachel Ventura

Our family loves Thanksgiving!! A day to overeat, lay around watching football, count our blessings and spend time with family…what’s not to love?! Because my in-laws live in Florida, and are sometimes here for the holiday and sometimes not, we don’t have much of a tradition for the day. Where we go really depends on them. But no matter what, we are sure to be surrounded by good people, good food, and good times.

Also, my husband and I like to take time out at some point during the day to enjoy a toast together. In some ways, Thanksgiving was when the story of our family began. On Thanksgiving night, nine years ago now, we happened to be in the same place at the same time after not seeing each other for almost two years. After that fateful night, we became inseparable and got engaged shortly after. I am a huge believer in “everything happens for a reason” and I know that we were meant to run into each other that Thanksgiving night. And for that, I am forever grateful. Lots of love and lots to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving and every day.

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