We wait all year in anticipation for that glorious Thanksgiving dinner. Holidays give us an opportunity to take note, if even for a moment. With family and friends together, a holiday offers a chance to savor the goodness of life. For many families, Thanksgiving has its tried-and-true recipes that bring the smells and flavors of happy memories. While tradition is important, it can be fun to try new dishes. Who knows but that that new dish might become a new family tradition. The idea of testing a new recipe on a big holiday meal may sound frightening; however, a flopped broccoli casserole or pumpkin dessert will likely be just another memory that adds a layer to life.
Deviate from childhood traditions. You may have grown up with squash unfailingly as a part of your Thanksgiving table. That does not mean that you have to continue that tradition. Tastes change. Families evolve. Go with it. Try sweet potatoes instead.
Make a compromise. Most families have to figure out how to combine two childhood traditions into a Thanksgiving meal. Instead of insisting that the Thanksgiving menu include both Aunt Marge’s mashed potatoes AND Grandpa Ralph’s scalloped potatoes, search for a recipe that includes elements of both or find a potato dish with a more modern twist.
Have a cross-cultural adventure. What might be better than the comfort of tradition? Adventure is the spice of life! While I know that Thanksgiving is a North American holiday, embrace the diversity that might make up your community or family.
Make peace with allergies and restrictions. So many families have members with allergies to nuts, gluten, lactose, etc. Challenge yourself to find or create recipes around some of those allergies or dietary restrictions. Instead of viewing them as a road block to tradition, consider it an opportunity to develop a tradition that everyone can enjoy.
Emphasize giving. My friend has found that a traditional Thanksgiving meal is not practical at her house (they are vegetarians and her children are picky eaters). She found that Thanksgiving had become a disappointing struggle with no real joy to the holiday. She and her husband decided that their family would spend Thanksgiving feeding those who were hungry. They volunteer at a soup kitchen each Thanksgiving and then have dinner out at their favorite Chinese restaurant.
What new food traditions have you created in your family?