Old photo of kids crafting

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Sarah Wolfson works at CMCH as an Administrative Associate, and is an editor for Media Moments.

Over brunch one cold November morning, with pumpkin pancakes piled high on our plates and hot apple cider in our mugs, my friends and I took turns sharing our Thanksgiving plans. Kerry started us off by explaining how her Thanksgiving is exactly the same every year. It begins with preparing a cheese plate and shrimp cocktail for breakfast (don’t ask me, not my tradition), then proceeds with watching the Thanksgiving parade and going to Hanover for a local football game, and ends around the dinner table. Jane went next, echoing that in addition to the Thanksgiving dinner, her other holiday staple is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with her family. They sit around the television and wait for the moment when the Santa float appears, and then all scream, “Santa! Santa!” when it finally does (again, not my tradition).

I’ve always been intrigued by the Thanksgiving parade, but never enough to actually watch it. But when talking about Thanksgiving plans over brunch and later at work, I see faces light up all around me at mention of the parade. One of my co-workers jokingly (but with an undercurrent of sincerity) proclaimed that the only proper way to celebrate Thanksgiving is by watching the parade, and that the holiday would be ruined without it. Maybe most people don’t take it to that extreme, but there is a common theme that people have their staple holiday traditions, and for many, that includes the parade on Thanksgiving. Holidays aren’t about the one big thing you learn in grade school, like the Thanksgiving story, but all the traditions and fanfare that go along with it.

When it was my turn to share, I didn’t have any traditions to talk about. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some great Thanksgivings, but none of them have been very structured or consistent. I have a big meal with my family, but it’s not in the same place or with the same people every year. We’ve even skipped the turkey a few times. We’ve spent some Thanksgivings indoors watching football games, movies, and comedies, and some outdoors walking our dog and marveling at how empty the beach is in November. And while I envy the idea of having set traditions to anticipate every year, I enjoy the loose structure of my Thanksgivings. It means that we never know who will attend the big meal, or how we’ll spend the day.

In the end, I don’t think it matters what activities we get up to. Thanksgivings spent watching movies together have been just as fun as those when we whipped out a boardgame for everyone to crowd around, which are both just as great as friends and families gathering to watch the parade together. The main consistency I see through my various Thanksgivings, and the reason for my current holiday excitement, is spending it with people I love, and enjoying our time together no matter what we do on the big Turkey day.

-Sarah Wolfson
-edited by Kristelle Lavallee

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