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What Are Your Thanksgiving Family Traditions?

Traci Taylor

When I think back to Thanksgiving as a kid I’m filled with memories of my grandma’s candied yams that melted in my mouth and my grandpa’s gravy that he’d make in mass quantity- it was so good that we kids would sneak tastes of it with our fingers when we thought nobody was looking, but we always got caught.  I remember the sound of leaves crunching under my feet as I’d run around my grandparent’s yard and the warmth of the fire in front of which I’d cozy up after a big meal.  I remember that it was one of the few days that the kids were allowed to sit at the “big people’s” table in the formal dining room.  I remember laughter and togetherness.  We weren’t distracted by computers or cell phones or the TV.  It was just us together making memories.

There are 7 of us kids and 4 of us have grown up.  Two are married with kids and the other two of us are busy with our own lives.  I’m sad to say that I haven’t been home for a Thanksgiving with my family in 10 or so years.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but family has never been more important to me than it is now.  One of the biggest reasons I moved here to Binghamton was to be able to be closer to my family.  My Dad was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer last year and underwent a bone marrow transplant earlier this month.  The holidays last year hit me so hard because I couldn’t help but wonder if they would be our last together as a family. I’m happy to say they weren’t.  My Dad isn’t in the clear, but he’s still here and there are lots more family memories to be made.

Most of all, when I think of Thanksgiving, I think of making gingerbread houses.  I don’t know who came up with the idea, but I learned when I was older that it was a way for me and my siblings to do something fun while the grownups prepared the meal.  It kept us from running around and being in the way. We kids would sit at my grandma’s table and create houses.  Somehow it always became a competition to see who could make the best house or who could get through the whole craft without eating all their candy before their house was finished.

I’m going to my sister’s house in Albany Thursday afternoon for Thanksgiving and am taking with me a gingerbread house kit.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep the tradition alive because I’m up against all sorts of things we didn’t have as kids (phones, computers, TV), but I’m going to try.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I think simplicity is where it’s at.  It’s so easy to let life pass by because we’re so overly stimulated, but this girl is going to work on slowing down and focus on doing the small things that will be the things I’ll look back on and remember with a smile when I’m older.

Now that you know my Thanksgiving tradition, I’d love to know what yours is.  Is there something special that you and your family/friends do together ever year for Thanksgiving?

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