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Cheatsgiving: No One Cares About Your Yams

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YamsYou have probably celebrated Thanksgiving as far back as you can remember.  And your family, to be sure, will be celebrating Thanksgiving for generations to come.

And just as certain, when your children are grown and celebrating Thanksgiving on their own, no matter where they are or who they are with: they will be thinking of you.

Because the holidays always have a way of taking us back.  It is a season of nostalgia.  Despite all the stress (or perhaps owed to it) the holidays carry us again and again to our past.  Triggered by familiar senses: the texture of rolled dough, an empty table waiting to be set – crowded by too many chairs, the sound of football from another room, the smell of anise, holiday music, the crisp darkening days of almost winter, a cup of eggnog…and suddenly …we are back there.

No, not all childhoods conjure such warm reflection.  But anyone reading this must hope that their own children will someday look back with such warmth.

And when your children do look back to Thanksgivings past, what will they think of?  What will they carry with them to their future family?  A recipe for bacon brussels sprouts?

Okay, that sounds pretty good.

But the truth is they don’t give a damn about your food.    It’s true.  No one cares about your yams.

If Thanksgiving had a bumper sticker, it would say: Make Memories, Not Meals.

So in that spirit, here’s Ten Thanksgiving Traditions that have nothing do to with turkey:

 DIY Ornaments/Keepsakes

Few things are more cherished than the aged, threadbare, homemade keepsakes of yore. Just ask any parent who has bubble-wrapped the same deformed salt-dough reindeer (platypus?) for the last thirty years.

So for the family that isn’t afraid of getting their hands a little dirty (in hot glue) on Thanksgiving, why not start an Annual Homemade Keepsake Tradition?

Simply setup a Craft Station each year for guests to make their own ornament or keepsake.   You can be their creative guide, with some specific tutorials (Pinterest: DIY ornaments).  OR you can just leave a mountain of craft stuff in a corner and let them go all MacGyver on that shit.

 Tree Trimming 

Similarly, for those who celebrate Christmas (and aren’t crippled with panic at the sight of Christmas décor in November) there is the Thanksgiving Tree Trimming Tradition.   All the natural tree enthusiasts have just stopped reading, but I know there’s some artificial tree lovers out there (ahem, Carinn Jade.)

Tip: Be nice and make sure that the lights have already been strung before guests arrive.

And if you have many children visiting your house, consider pre-sorting your ornaments in separate decorative boxes with each child’s name.  They will love the special attention, and it might prevent the dreaded “Ornament Inequity Tantrum.”  Maybe.

Thanksgiving Album 

Everyone takes family pictures at Thanksgiving.  So why not make it an official tradition?

To Do: Grab yourself a chalkboard, or some wooden numbers, or a roll of that white banner-paper that football players run through, and write down the year before you snap the next photo.   Print photo.  Put in album.  Repeat.

With just that little extra effort, you could have a really cool Thanksgiving Album for generations to come.

And if you want to be really on trend, grab some props.  Nothing is more hip than funny hats and fake mustaches.  Except for real mustaches.

Talent Show

For the family that has a lot of young kids, or anyone else willing to potentially humiliate themselves for the sake of tradition, there’s the Annual Thanksgiving Talent Show.  Sort of like the Macy’s Parade, but in your living room!

Tip: Give ample notice to guests.

Variation: for a book-loving family, consider hosting a Holiday Reading.  Kids could read excerpts from a favorite book, or everyone could read from the same novel.

The Thankful Table

Literally.  It’s a table that gives thanks.

To Do:  Using paint stirrers, or something significantly classier, gather and distribute wooden strips to each guest.  Have them write down something they’re thankful for, including their name and year.

Assemble all wooden strips onto a scrap tabletop or piece of plywood.  Watch your “Thankful Table” evolve from a trivet to a tray to a full tabletop over the years.

Variation:  Feeling impatient?  Have your guests write/paint directly onto an existing tabletop that you can store away until the next year.

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