We often associate Thanksgiving dinner with foods like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and other traditional foods that our families enjoy. But in truth, the holiday isn’t really about the foods themselves, but about the memories and connections linked with each treasured dish. What’s more, not every American family’s table is laden with the same foods on November 25th, and some negotiation is often needed when families combine for the celebration.
When we get married, have children, and start Thanksgiving traditions with our own families, we are often faced with choices about where to celebrate, how to celebrate, and with whom to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes, those same choices push us to define the meaning of our own celebrations, memories, and the dishes that tie us to them.
Sweet potato pie was always my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner when I was growing up. The recipe had been exchanged via a chain of friends and family till it arrived at my mom, and we were all absolutely in love with it! Year in and year out, our family continued the same traditional cherished menu each Thanksgiving. I just assumed that sweet potato pie was part of every American family’s November feast.
That first Thanksgiving with my new husband’s Andrew’s family something was missing for me, despite the warm family and new, exciting dishes. I found I needed to reconcile different family traditions, especially in this most traditional and family-oriented holiday. We have learned to merge our traditions over the years, including finding a place at the table for my beloved sweet potato pie, which is now also one of their favorite side dishes.
While I have eaten many delectable foods at the Thanksgiving holiday, including some new ones that Andrew’s mom and I have created and added to our table over the years, when I close my eyes and take a bite of the piping hot, sweet and creamy sweet potato pie, lightly scented with nutmeg and cinnamon, I am carried back to my childhood, my family, and all those celebrations we had at our dining room table years ago.
What kinds of traditions are you starting with your children at Thanksgiving? Are there certain dishes that you just couldn’t imagine going without when celebrating the holiday?