Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving is one of my absolute favorite times of year, and, as a pescatarian, I’m not in it for the turkey (although my cousin makes the BEST bird). What I really love about Thanksgiving are the traditions we have in my family.

I spend 99% of my Thanksgiving with my dad and his family. My parents are no longer together, and while my mom’s side doesn’t really do much, my dad’s family all comes to town and gets together in a huge celebration. It’s sometimes the only time of year when I see my St. Louis cousins, so I look forward to it every year. With my mom, we celebrate the weekend before, so I’m still eating leftover mashed potatoes from our feast.

My dad’s family Thanksgiving is typically held at my cousin’s house in the suburbs. The main level is filled with adults drinking wine in the kitchen and catching up while my cousin Herb cooks the bird and all the fixings. The “kids” are all downstairs with a few adults who snuck away watching football and drinking beers. By kids I mean the 27 and youngers.

We all hangout in the basement catching each other up on our lives and cracking jokes from Thanksgiving’s past while the turkey roasts in the oven. My cousin’s dog, Lucky, comes so I spend a good majority of the time on the ground petting the little cutie as she runs around chasing whoever she thinks has food.

As soon as the food is ready we all rush up to the kitchen to fill our plates and bellies with food. As a pescatarian I stick to mashed potatoes, dinner rolls and green beans, while the rest of the family adds stuffing and turkey as well. This year everything was so good I had to go back for a second round, which I don’t regret in the slightest.

After dinner is when things really heat up at family Thanksgiving. Every year after dinner we gather in the basement and do the turkey trot.

The turkey trot is a tradition we’ve been doing for years and years. My dad compiles random trivia throughout the year, and then, for Thanksgiving dinner, compiles 35 of the toughest questions to create the turkey trot, a 30ish minute trivia battle. We spread out throughout the basement and my dad hands us the test, which we can only put our name on the cover of but not open up until he tells us. When my dad has finished handing them out he lets everyone start.

The questions on the test range from fill-in-the-blank to true-false to multiple choice, and can cover topics from anything—history, sports, politics, pop-culture and more. It is the most serious anyone in our family has ever been about a test, and people get ruthless. The winner gets a grand prize of Starbucks gift cards or scratch-off lottery tickets.

After time is called my dad collects the tests back up. He then hands you out someone else’s to grade. He runs through all the answers, all the while people are arguing out responses, cheering when they get something right, or groaning when they know they got it wrong. This year my cousin Ben won with 19 of 35 correct answers.

After the turkey trot it’s dessert time. We have all your traditional desserts and then some not so traditional. This year I opted for cheesecake and a side of pomegranate seeds. By the time I finished those I was too stuffed to move.

After dessert everyone slowly starts clearing out—though to get to that point about 5 hours go by, so I can’t really blame them. The cousins hangout for a little bit longer and then my brother and I head home so that I can make it to my post-dinner friendsgiving at my best friends house, where my night goes until 3am catching up with our holiday crew.

What did you do for Thanksgiving and what are some of your favorite traditions? Share them in the comments!

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