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An All-American Thanksgiving: Why It’s Important to Celebrate Traditions

While “giving thanks” and ceremonies of celebration are common in almost all religions around the harvest time, Thanksgiving – like the 4th of July – is a uniquely American holiday. Sure, a few other countries (like Canada) have “Thanksgiving” holidays, the traditional cornucopia of food, family and togetherness that we in the United States celebrate is as traditional to our country as apple pie and Uncle Sam. It’s also one of the most beloved holidays for many because of its single-minded focus: bringing loved ones together to celebrate…togetherness.

Why is this so inherently meaningful? Well, traditions are, at their heart, rituals. Rituals that help create common bonds and build community through shared experiences, celebrations and expressions of caring. Traditions like Thanksgiving give us a sense of “who we are,” and also serve to inspire memories of holidays past. Ask any senior to share their memories of Thanksgiving when they were younger, and the stories they tell won’t be that much different than what you’d hear from a younger person today. After all, the Macy’s Day Parade started marching in 1924, and the first professional football games played on Thanksgiving started in 1920! (Today, though, it’s a lot easier to watch both of those from the comfort of your own couch!)

Thanksgiving, more than other traditional holidays, is a time when generations can come together to celebrate shared heritage. You may make your apple pie following the same recipe as your grandmother did, or you have a “secret ingredient” you put into your cranberry relish that you and your mom laugh about every year. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to share family stories, follow old patterns and build memories for current and future generations.

What does that look like for many Americans? Well, we’ve put together a list of the ten top traditional dishes you’ll find on most American Thanksgiving tables. How many were on YOUR table this year?

  1. Green Bean Casserole. Cream of mushroom soup paired with canned green beans and french fried onions equals Thanksgiving bliss. It’s a perfect pairing, and we will accept no naysayers.

  1. Rolls. Bread. Yum. These yeasty carbohydrates go with everything on the Thanksgiving table, from gravy to turkey to sweet potatoes to a conveyance to carry all of the above to your mouth.

  1. Gravy. Like ice cream is to pie, gravy is the ultimate condiment for all Thanksgiving dishes. And the more, the better!

  1. Macaroni and Cheese. While this dish is somewhat of a newcomer to the Thanksgiving table, it’s quickly become a staple. Warm, creamy and cheesy, what’s not to love?

  1. Mashed Potatoes. Is Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes even Thanksgiving? It’s basically the glue that holds everything on your plate together. Literally.

  1. Sweet Potato Casserole. It’s dessert disguised as a side dish. Perfect for cutting through all the salty goodness of everything else on your plate when you need just a touch of sugar to cleanse your palate.

  1. Ham. Turkey is delicious, but ham just works better with things like sweet potato casserole and rolls. Or by itself as a snack. Or anytime at all, actually.

  1. Pies. Whether your pick is pumpkin, cherry, apple or another type of pie, one thing is for sure: it’s a must. Top it with ice cream, whipped cream or another piece of pie. However you like to eat it. We’re not judging.

  1. Stuffing. Thanksgiving without stuffing is like a Christmas without snow. It’s okay, but it could be so much better. And for us, better means savory bread and fillings all mixed together. Yum.

  1. Turkey. What more needs to be said? It’s tradition. And it’s delicious.

Whatever traditions mean the most to you, and however you choose to celebrate them, Thanksgiving is a great time of year to focus on friends, family and what this season means to you. From all of us at Melrose Meadows, we hope your Thanksgiving season is filled with fantastic food and happy times with those you care about!

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