26    Nov 201324 comments

Thanksgiving: Holiday tips and competition!

On Thursday, Americans around the world will celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a holiday that we take seriously, and not only in the US.

American ex-pats will celebrate wherever they live. In some countries, it's hard to find the necessary foods, such as cranberry sauce, and even whole turkeys. But no matter where we live, we try our best to reproduce the menu and good feelings of this favorite holiday.

It is a family holiday and we like to involve family members who attend. It's a time when we create special family memories.

We invite you to share your favorite family Thanksgiving memories for the chance to win a Kindle for the holidays. Simply leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post, for a chance to enter. We will choose one winner, and in honor of thanksgiving, we'll post a selection of our favorite entries. The winning story will be announced on Sunday, December 1.

Here are some tips for working family history into your turkey festival this year.

  • Print out a large family tree so each person can find their name on the tree.
  • Ask each guest to bring a copy of an old photo, even if the people are unidentified. Someone else at the table might recognize that photo.
  • Encourage each person to share a story of an immigrant ancestor.
  • Have each guest bring a chart of their immediate family, adding in new babies, marriages as well as the deaths of immediate family members.
  • Record your guests speaking about their families, but make sure to get their permission to record them.
  • Take video and photos of all the guests and share them. Use your smartphones, tablets, video recorders and all of today’s technology.
  • Make sure to upload these videos and photographs to your MyHeritage family site.

Specifically for the children:

  • Have the younger guests write a poem about the holiday and sing the words to a well-known melody. Make sure to record the songs.
  • Have younger guests interview older guests:
    • What was Thanksgiving like when you were my age? What did you eat?
    • What was your favorite game or toy?
    • What was your favorite story your grandparents told you?

Collect all the photographs, the written stories of immigrant ancestors, and family charts to produce a guest album to be shared with all the guests.

These tips are good for all holidays when family gathers.

Search for your ancestors:

Comments (24) Trackbacks (1)
  1. My favorite family memories are before my Mom went to heaven and they always came with the car loaded down with her wonderful desserts! No one could make them like she did and she tried to make at least one of everything; pineapple pie, pumpkin pie, dump cake, blueberry pie, coconut pie and always something new she had tried. Heaven is a better place but we sure miss her!
  2. Turkey Time

    Ah-h-h-h, Thanksgiving Holiday. What a day for rejoicing and remembering.

    But, no turkey for us on Thanksgiving Day, no siree! Not that a turkey wasn't available but after plucking pin feathers and cleaning the innards cavities for hours on a myriad of the big old birds, the idea of cooking one and putting it on the table to eat didn't sound good, smell good, and wouldn't have even tasted good.

    My parents raised turkeys as a side income and the preparation of turkeys for others' tables left us with “a bad taste in our mouths.” Sometimes, even now, seeing the bins of fresh and frozen turkeys at every grocery store at Thanksgiving time brings back the not-so-fond remembrance of the family turkey-business days on the farm. Thanksgiving eve was the greatest moment of pure thanks giving that four sisters and their mother could even begin to imagine. No more turkeys to trim.

    And so, on Thanksgiving Day, Yorkshire pudding for breakfast, roast beef with all of its trimmings at noon and, after each meal, adequate prayers of heartfelt gratitude given for the extra income and for our personal relief of the tedium were the norm. After the noon meal, we were set free!

    Off to the ice skating pond in yonder field we traipsed and, if we were lucky, perhaps a neighbor coming to share the activity would bring a five-gallon milk can full of steamy hot chocolate or hot chili con carne for the group. No one felt deprived. We had pure, clean fun. No one ever suffered a broken limb and no one ever fell through the ice into the frigid water below. As evening drew near, we traipsed back over the river and through the woods to a nice warm house and a waiting mother. Perhaps a tray of hot apple dumplings was the evening meal. Assembling a picture puzzle with our father ended the day and the season. Thanksgiving Night was also a blessed relief from the turkey business for another year.
  3. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Before my grandmother passed we would all go to her house. This included all my aunt, uncles & cousins. When I first brought my husband (then my "Friend") to Thanksgiving, we ate at his house in Rochester, NY and then traveled to Buffalo, NY to have another Thanksgiving dinner. He asked me when we ate. Being a huge family who loves football I said, "Halftime." He was speechless. His family did not watch football at the time.
  4. My favorite Thanksgiving memories involve, of course family and food! My maternal grandmother always hosted all the kids and grandkids at her house. During the day we would all "help" her with the food preparation. After eating and clearing up, we would take out all the Christmas decorations and get the house decorated for the next holiday! Then we would play games and snack on leftovers as holiday specials played on TV. Lots of laughter and love. Then, we would try to get to bed early so we could get up early on Friday morning and hit the sales! Now my grandmother is gone and the kids all have their own families and traditions. I really miss the huge and busy Thanksgivings of my childhood.
  5. When my older siblings married, the Thanksgiving Day practice started of rotating which family they ate the large meal with and which family they went to for desserts/wind down from the "big day" with. Either way, it didn't matter as my father would put everyone to work bringing down the Christmas decorations from the attic and we would all pitch in to put the artificial tree together then decorate it. Mom and Dad had varied selection of Christmas ornaments - some fragile glass ornaments from the first years of their marriage, some modern plastic/felt flocked ones that were popular in the early 70s, and ones they added to the tree in-between those time periods. Mom would share stories about when/where/how they got certain ornaments ... and always sighed and said, "There goes another one ..." when seeing one of the 1940s fragile glass ornaments lying broken in the box.

    When I married my parents gave me one of the ornaments from their tree to add to mine, it was a light-up Santa that you perched inside the branches against the spine of the tree from the mid-50s. The electrical cord went bad through age but I still have the Santa and he is still placed into the tree. I tried to have the tree setting up/decorating as part of my Thanksgiving festivities as, with my parents, it lead to family sharing stories/memories and laughs with each other regardless of when someone arrived to the house (for meal or dessert) or age as my parents encouraged the grandchildren to join in/help decorate the tree that day.
  6. My favorite Thanksgiving memory involved two youngsters who were always looking for trouble.

    When my cousin and I were younger, and the internet did not exist, we would constantly be outside climbing trees and making bows and arrows with some branches carved from our little Swiss army knives. While the family at the adult table enjoyed conversation and making the feast my cousin and I wondered around trying to shoot birds with our handmade arrows. Either not having good aim or not making bows and arrows as well as we thought we were, we stumbled upon a goose that had been hit by a car and decapitated. (Sorry that this story just became kind of dark) We used one of our arrows to pick up this headless goose and carried it back to my house. We walk into the kitchen with the goose, and in front of parents, aunts/uncles, grandparents and all, toss the goose onto the table in rejoice telling the family that we had hunted dinner for them and the real cooking can begin!

    Looking back on it, my cousin and I have come to realize how terribly disgusting that was but at the time we thought it was hilarious.
  7. my favorite memories are of Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house I would go over on the day before to be there to help her get ready the next day. She would get up early to get the turkey going, and when I got up I would help with the peeling potatoes and opening the cans of what ever else we were having. The rest of the family would start arriving and there were so many of us trying to get the last minute things done, we used picnic benches for seats and there was hardly any elbow room when everyone was seated, it was great when we were old enough to sit at the adult table instead of the kids table. Unfortunately alot of the family are in Heaven now and we don't have those kinds of dinners anymore, if only we could have just one more Thanksgiving dinner at Grama's house
  8. Can I share? One year we brought home the Butterball, frozen and I was delegated the task of dealing with the Turkey thaw in the "downstairs" fridge. When we came in from the store I placed it on the top step and kicked it down the steps (6) to the basement floor to be dealt with later. Thursday morning when I went to get it the turkey still sitting at the bottom of the stairs thawed, ruined and starting to smell staining the carpet. All of the rest of them have been better.
  9. As a child we would go to my Grandmothers house to join Great Aunts and Uncles, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Great Grandparents for a fa bulous meal. She had a long enclosed porch that served as the diningroom. Looking back, it really was not as big as it seemed back then. The meal was ways good. But more importantly it was about four generations of an entire family getting together to enjoy each others company and give thanks. Sadly, the older generations have passed but the memories will be in my heart forever.
  10. As one of 8 sibblings tday was dicey at best, mom drank a bit. So one year after seemingly endless prep, we all sat for the prayer,at the end of which my mom, looked out over the table and commented that one child,my brother John, serving in the Navy was the only child missing, and wondered if he was O K. My dad said "maybe he's eating better than us". You do not want to know what happened after that.
  11. One of my best memories ever,i had just had my 5 th daughter..1 month old,and we packed up for our trip to my mom & dad's with the family...snowing like crazy as it does in N.H. It took us almost 2 hours to drive there and as i went thru their door,a could not detect any smell of a turkey roasting....mom must have been celebrating too early..as when i asked her > where is the turkey? ,she walked over to the top freezer,swung open the door..looked shocked and said...i'll be darned..he flew back in !!!! I still laugh today..what a memory!!!
  12. Years ago, some time in the mid to late 1960's. My mother came home from grocery shopping. She had bought all the food needed for our Thanksgiving dinner which would be coming up in a few days. She mentioned to my father that she had bought a turkey but it was too big for her to carry. It was paid for and they were holding it for her. It just needed to be picked up. My father agreed to go and off he went to pick up the turkey.

    He pulled up into the Von's Market, in Pico Rivera, on the corner of Passons Blvd and Washington Blvd, went back to the meat section and told the guy that he was here to pick up the turkey that his wife had bought.

    “No Problem, sir, let me get the list”. A few minutes later he came back and asked my father, “What's her name?” My father told him and he looks up and down the list and tells my father, “Her name is not on the list”. Well, my father says something to the effect of, “You better look again because it was bought and paid for”. The guy goes in the back and comes out and tells my dad “I'm sorry sir, there's nothing I can do”.

    My father was not one to get discouraged so he kept at it. He insisted and the butcher resisted, and on and on it went. It was getting close to a fist fight. The manager became in involved and there was a lot of commotion. Finally, frustrated and at his wits end, the butcher goes into the back, returns with a large turkey, puts it in my dad's hands and says 'Take your G..damn turkey and go, I'm not arguing with you anymore!” My father didn't quite care for the guy's attitude but figures to himself, “I got the turkey”. Mission accomplished..

    When he got home he tells my mother everything that had happened at the market. “Wow, I wonder what his problem was?” She said. “I told him you were coming to get the turkey!!” On and on they went until my father said that they weren't shopping at Von's any more. He was still pretty upset about everything.. “Von's!" my mother said, “What were you doing at Von's, I bought the turkey at Super A!”

    My dad was so mad his veins were popping out. “But you said Von's! “No, I didn't, I said Super A!” That argument went unresolved to my father's dying day. Each one believed the other made a mistake that day. I can tell you this, after my father calmed down we laughed til it hurt!

    My mother went by herself to Super A to pick up the turkey. She wasn't about to ask my father again. Turns out she was strong enough to carry it after all. That Christmas we had a very nice turkey dinner.

    I hope you all have a nice Thanksgiving and remember, whatever goes wrong, I guarantee you, you'll laugh about it some day! Happy Thanksgiving!
  13. There were four of us kids. At that time my parents were separated, leaving my mother to provide for us kids...Always, always, she had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal for us. Also she used to take us to see the Thanksgiving Parade as we were living in San Francisco then. She has passed some years ago but I think of her at this time of the holidays. As in those days there was no welfare, or food stamps to help.
  14. Thanksgiving in our family usually consisted of going up to spend it with my aunt, uncle, his in-laws, and my cousins, and the grandparents. As the family grew larger, so did our table! But the nice thing was there was NEVER a separate kid's table unless there was just no room around the current permutation of their usual dining table...instead, the table was expanded with leaves and then card tables. My aunt would always decorate nicely, and when my middle cousin's wife took over, she carried on the traditions.

    Among these include the proper snack table for noshing on while waiting for dinner, with soda and juice for the kids and various imbibables for the adults -- while the football game was on, of course! There was always plenty of joking, teasing, and general goofing off going on as everyone who could fit in the kitchen if not interested in football tried to help fix dinner. When dinner was finally on, the game was turned off and everyone gathered, as that was and is the most important part of the whole day. The usual traditional dishes that everyone loves get passed around...along with the more non-traditional oyster casserole my aunt makes that only about 3 of the now 18 table guests will eat!

    Once dinner was over, the game might get turned on long enough to let dinner settle, and then all who wanted to went for a walk to see the sunset and look at the stars. Once that was done, it was back inside for pie and cake, and putting everything away, giving out leftovers as it was done, and a few extra hours of being together and talking over the game in the background.

    Sure the family has grown (as my eldest cousin's five kids range from 8 to 23 now) and there are a few new traditions (like "no game-players ON while at the table, you kids!!" and "all cell-phones silent and no texting at the table, anybody!"), but it's still family and still good to see everyone we might not get to see, as our family has managed to scatter to the winds while losing a few of our oldest members. But Thanksgiving is the one time that, unless there's just no hope to pull it off, manages to get the members of our family together, all of us that can come, for just a day.
  15. My favorite memory was when I was around 10. My mother who was married during the depression, always cooked a huge family meal at Thanksgiving. Every year she had her "faithful" dishes she prepared. Dressing was a family favorite, but half of the family liked sage dressing and the other half liked oyster dressing. Being the mom she was, she always made both. This particular year, my sister in law graciously offered to get up from the table and get my niece (1 month younger than myself) and I seconds on the dressing. She snuck in an oyster or two under our "plain" dressing. We were none the wiser until we finished our meal and asked why everyone was laughing. Great memories of the Thanksgiving dinner.
  16. Many of the comments are about the family that is not with us now.
    Remember we are making new memories. My grandson lost his 1st tooth today and he wonders how he will chew his turkey tomorrow.
    2nd cousins age 5,7,8 and 10 are meeting each other for the first time and we are trying to make them understand why they are 2nd cousins. Why I am great Aunt Mickey to them and why their mother is my niece. Oh and yes there will be a "kids" table which they love the thought of having their own table to eat at.
    "Mama are we going to use your special dishes tomorrow, yes because it is a special day of the year that our family celebrates family. The old family that made us and the new family that will be with us today". Happy Thanksgiving!
  17. My favorite Thanksgiving stemmed from the fact that nobody in my family ever prayed together or even so much as said grace, Lots of complaining however. Thanksgiving day was the one day that we prayed together, thanking God for the food and sharing what we were grateful for. As a child this was the best part about our Thanksgiving. I wished this was everyday back then.ow as an adult, my children and grandchildren were raised to acknowledge God on all days! :)
  18. I love this...My heritage is a wonderful tool for all. Im thinking on this thanksgiving of my loved ones here in Maine and those beyond its border.I truly have a lot to be blessed for. I have a beautiful bright fourteen year old son who just started high school recently. He's on his way to becoming a computer programmer. And I couldnt be more proud. I feel it most important today on this day about grace and thankfulness to say thank you to our lord and savior...Jesus Christ. And god bless and happy thanksgiving to all of you
  19. One Thanksgiving I was headed to my parents in New Mexico from Seattle. My aunt was meeting me in El Paso, driving from Phoenix. I was to arrive at 4. The plane was delayed several hours and then due to the storm we flew to Atlanta to go around it. I then finally got to El Paso,Texas at 12:30 AM. We finally got to bed by 2:00 after finding out my luggage was lost! We had decided we were not making the 3 hour drive to my parents until morning. Well our fun was not over! There was a party going on and someone decided to pull the fire alarm. 3 AM. We had just fallen asleep and had to climb down 7flights of stairs!! All the guests were standing in front of the hotel. I took my aunt and commandeered the airport shuttle, layed down and waited an hour for the all clear. It was quite a start to our Thanksgiving. No fire! Well we got back to bed and decided to sleep through breakfast at the parents and arrive in time for the festivities. Everything else went fine and I even got my luggage delivered the next day. It was a very memorable Thanksgiving and even with all the crazy things that happened it was a good time with my aunt and family and have given us many laughs. Happy Thanksgiving every one.
  20. We had no family living near us, so our family holidays were ours. They weren't quiet, by any means, because there were six kids. My Mom always let us help her prepare Thanksgiving dinner. That was good, when we were all on our own, because we knew what to do, because none of the kids in my family live near each other. My kids started helping helping me make dinner when they were young, and today was the first time, since he was age 3, that my son wasn't home to get up early, and help me make the stuffing, and stuff the turkey. My daughter who was home, helped me make dinner today. Thanksgiving brings back good memories of growing up.
  21. My favorite thanksgiving memory was when the family gathered at my grandparents house and we shared a thanksgiving feast together. Later on, we played football and baseball in the yard, and came back in for some sweet treats!
  22. I was an only child of a single mother so Thanksgiving was one of the few times I got to see my cousins. In the 1950'S we always went to my grandparents farm in upstate New York for Thanksgiving. My aunt, uncle and 3 cousins also lived on the farm. My grandmother used on old cast iron wood stove to cook. She also churned her own butter. They had a chicken farm, but on Thanksgiving we usually had wild turkey and venison for dinner. (Thanksgiving was always during deer season). All the food was grown on the farm except the scalloped oysters my grandfather loved. We usually had mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, butternut squash, turnips, scalloped corn, peas, and fresh baked rolls. Apple and pumpkin pie for dessert. I loved my grandmother's cooking. It was a family tradition made even more important because of the family history. The farm had been in my grandfather's family for 5 generations and still is today. It was settled in early 1800's by Daniel Murdock. He was Captain in the Revolutionary War. It was also important because my grandmother was a direct descendant of Pilgrim Francis Cooke (an actual Mayflower Pilgrim). So for me Thanksgiving was about family, tradition, and good food.
  23. Since my kids share their holidays - Thanksgiving included - separately with both their mom's and my family, it can be an exhausting experience for them.

    So I try to keep it focused on just relaxing and spending time together. A couple of years ago, I discovered we were direct descendants of several of the Mayflower passengers, and since then, we've made it a Thanksgiving ritual to trace our ancestry back to one or more of them, then looking up a little biographical information on each in an effort to get to know them each a little better.

    It's made our Thanksgivings more meaningful to have a direct link to so many of the original Pilgrims, more clearly understand how close they were to death from starvation, and how their thanks was for 'bounty' in the shadow of having buried so many of their family members who had succumbed to starvation less a year earlier.
  24. My favorite Thanksgivings are always filled with loving family times together with favorite foods including homemade dressing, turkey and sweet potato pie. The other dishes are okay, but we must have these three!

Leave a comment


Please type a comment
Please enter a name
Please enter an email address
About us  |  Privacy  |  Tell a friend  |  Support  |  Site map
Copyright © 2016 MyHeritage Ltd., All rights reserved