Thanksgiving traditions in the United States bring families together around the Thanksgiving meal. For some people, family is just around the corner, in the next town, or just a few hours drive. For others it is a time for long distance traveling to be with family.
If this is either not practical or not possible, or if there are no family members to visit or to be visited by, it can be a stressful and lonely time.
How to Create New Thanksgiving Traditions
Thanksgiving day tends to be a day when most businesses and restaurants in the United States are closed, so trying to ignore Thanksgiving is almost impossible. How can those who have no family nearby create a Thanksgiving holiday that has meaning for them?
Here are some suggestions to make Thanksgiving enjoyable and memorable for those who find themselves without the traditional family gathering:
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen to help prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner to others.
- Check with hospitals in the area to see if there are volunteer opportunities to visit with patients on that day.
- Arrange to have Thanksgiving dinner at an assisted living facility or nursing home with those who don’t have family nearby.
- Check with local Meals-on-Wheels and see if there is a need for additional help for the holiday.
- Check with your church, synagogue or mosque to see if there are others also separated from family and enroll folks to join in a Thanksgiving dinner to share.
More Thanksgiving Traditions
- See if there are others in the neighborhood who are also without a family gathering and invite them to a pot luck Thanksgiving dinner.
- Plan a progressive dinner ending at a house with a large flat screen TV for the guys to watch football.
- Plan a day of skiing if living in an area of the country the has snow in November and invite friends to join in. Rent a cabin to prepare a Thanksgiving meal.
- Prepare a turkey the day before, and spend Thanksgiving outdoors hiking or walking the beach, and pack a picnic lunch of leftover turkey sandwiches or turkey salad.
- If living close to Canada or Mexico…cross over the border and spend the day in a country that will not be celebrating Thanksgiving on that day.
How Most Americans Spend Thanksgiving Day
Since this is not a holiday that surrounds itself with gifts, but is celebrated in the sharing of a meal, many families gather together in the afternoon for a mid-day meal or later in the day for dinner. A tradition that has developed in more recent years is to watch the college football bowl games on television or the 1939 film classic, The Wizard of OZ, starring Judy Garland.
Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner in America
The Thanksgiving meal in America usually consists of a roasted stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes or yams, cranberries or cranberry sauce, some assortment of other vegetable side dishes and pumpkin or mincemeat pies for dessert.
Being without family for the holidays can feel lonely. When spending the holiday away from family, there are alternatives to the traditional Thanksgiving celebrations that can make Thanksgiving enjoyable and memorable…it may just take a break from tradition.