Celebrating our differences: Thanksgiving Traditions


Maggie Craig

A season of thanks. During Thanksgiving, friends and family celebrate the favorite memories and experiences of the year. Despite the “American” connotation related with Thanksgiving, people from all over the country follow their own conditions.

Maggie Craig, Naisha Roy, and Shree Delwadia

Thanksgiving or thanks-giving? When people think of the holiday, turkey and stuffing usually take precedence over appreciation. However, the holiday serves a different purpose for every family. While some families enjoy a small, intimate dinner around the dining room table, others say their thanks over a huge family gathering; for some, the holiday is focused on giving thanks for those who are important and special to them. Diversity through Thanksgiving displays how each holiday holds a different meaning for every family. 

The Intimacy of Thanksgiving

Freshman Maggie Craig celebrates Thanksgiving in a traditional way.

As the Christmas tree radiates brightly in the living room, the appetizing aroma of green bean casserole and pumpkin pie permeate throughout the house. Michael Buble and Mariah Carey serenade in the kitchen while my brothers and I set the table with our finest china plates. We sit around the long, dining room table—a table we only use for special occasions—in our best clothes. The meals my mother prepared sit evenly in the middle of the table, and the star of the evening, the turkey, acts as the centerpiece. Before enjoying the feast, we hold hands, close our eyes, and bow our heads in prayer, thanking God for the things he has done in our lives. Afterward, we take turns declaring things we are most grateful for. The most discussed themes include God, friends, and family. Finally, after all the speeches, we dig into the seasonal delicacies and enjoy each other’s company, something that rarely happens due to our busy schedules. 

My Filipino family quickly adopted American traditions when they moved to Georgia. Ever since I was little, we’ve always had turkey alongside family or friends during the Thanksgiving season. Thanksgiving in my eyes is a way to get together with close friends and family you haven’t seen in a while. We’ve celebrated the holiday in various different places, but an underlying theme every year is that we’re always surrounded by people we love. Even after the meal is over, we wash the dishes while talking and cracking jokes amongst each other as we transition into the next season. 

Thankful Chaos

Sophomore Shree Delwadia also celebrates Thanksgiving, but with a more unique approach.

Thanksgiving is the one time of the year where all my family–extended and intimate–come together for one grand feast. The days preceding Thanksgiving consist of plane trips, road trips, and so many more incoming family members. For some, Thanksgiving is an intimate and small dinner. However, it takes extensive planning every year to gather all of the family under one roof. From great grandparents to the kids of this generation, the holiday is always full of energy and spirit. 

Early in the morning, the kitchen is full of many hands cooking savory foods and sending pleasant aromas soaring throughout the house. In the evening, the food and festivities begin to turn on. Once we all get our food, we sit down with our cousins, aunts, and uncles, and chat the evening away. While we don’t sit together and say what we are thankful for, we always have a big piece of poster paper at the front of the hall where people can write out what they are thankful for. However, dinner is just the beginning of the whirlwind of food that is about to take over. Desserts line the dinner tables as the little ones scurry towards the sweets. Soon, after eating more than one could imagine, the whole family finds their way to another room where the activities start. The activities always hold a special meaning in the hearts’ of my family. With generations and generations of activities continued on, our grandpa starts a traditional game of tug of war and then grabs a big blanket to swing each and every one of the kids in. When the night comes to an end, everyone rushes together and attempts to get a family photo. After that challenging mission, we document the end to another successful Thanksgiving day.

Even though my family comes from a mix of backgrounds, we take the American traditions of Thanksgiving and put a little ‘Delwadia’ family twist on it. To us, “Thanksgiving” is spending time with each and every one of our families. I have never thought of what a small, intimate Thanksgiving dinner might comprise of, but I know for sure that my big, fun, and chaotic Thanksgiving creates special and unforgettable memories that will stay with us forever.

Giving Thanks All-Around

Sophomore Naisha Roy has a completely different meaning of the holiday altogether.

As someone who has never tasted turkey or cranberry sauce, I interpret Thanksgiving very differently than the average person. To me, the holiday is all about the appreciation and the warmth of the day. I’m an immigrant and find it really hard to relate to something so quintessentially American. I can’t imagine the idea of a giant family gathering around a mile-long dining table; most of my family is in India, and I don’t own a dining table that big. So, around the same time that everyone else is celebrating, the holiday doesn’t hold the same purpose.

I love the aura Thanksgiving gives, a sense of warmth and togetherness amidst the cold winter air. I can’t make Thanksgiving centered around family, so to me, it’s about the other people in my life I can meet: teachers and friends. I write thank-you notes and make small presents for the people that matter the most to me. Some years, the four of us (my mom, my dad, my sister and me) will go to a restaurant on the holiday, but instead of turkey, we’ll be sharing Indian or Mediterranean food. In fact, this year, my dad isn’t even going to be here this year for Thanksgiving or Christmas. At the end of the day, our culture has lasted longer (and stronger) than my time here. Sometimes it feels like everyone else has an inside joke that I can’t join in on. I just don’t feel the inner spark of warmth that everyone else feels on the holiday. While I love the idea of family time and going around the dinner table, saying what we’re thankful for, the day just doesn’t evoke that ‘special’ feeling in me. I sometimes feel really disjointed during this holiday season, because we’ve never really been big on the main Thanksgiving traditions. Half the time, we spend Thanksgiving planning out our shopping for Black Friday rather than actually acknowledging the holiday at all. Sometimes, it just feels like immigrating here has disconnected me from a lot of “American” traditions that I would have otherwise been a part of, and I can’t think of a better example of that than Thanksgiving.

While Thanksgiving is a U.S. tradition, many families throughout the United States practice the holiday with their own special twists. Whether it be a small family dinner or a tug-of-war competition, the season of Thanksgiving has taken on a larger meaning than simply being an American tradition.