The Traditions of Thanksgiving

In today’s society where it seems like the celebration jumps straight from Halloween to Christmas, many families in South Louisiana continue to indulge in traditional Thanksgiving festivities and create new annual customs that they will share with their family and friends for years to come.

When the pilgrims feasted for the first Thanksgiving, it is unlikely they envisioned a day where a full feast could be picked up from Cracker Barrel or Piccadilly with minimal effort or money, but that is the reality of the world we live in today.

Consumers may not always shuck their own ears of corn or harvest their own turkey in time for their Thanksgiving meal, but individuals in the Tangipahoa area are adamant about keeping the traditions and customs of the holiday, even if there are modern twists.

Southeastern senior education major Brittney Nickens says her main focus of her Thanksgiving celebration is none other than the dish of honor- the turkey. While the first Thanksgiving meal most likely did not include a perfectly basted turkey, as the centuries have passed the bird has become a staple to virtually every American’s holiday celebration.

“There is seriously nothing better than watching my pawpaw carve the gigantic turkey and hear him giggle as the grandchildren sneak pieces off the serving dish. The turkey in our family is a staple to our proper Thanksgiving meal. I think the reason we all come together is because of pawpaw’s turkey. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it,” Nickens said.

Her brother junior criminal justice major Hayden Nickens reiterates this and says, “The turkey is amazing, but I feel like the desserts are what get most of my attention. Our family is full of bakers so the amount of calories I consume from dessert alone is a little scary.”

Besides the fact that Thanksgiving contains true food for the soul, many families and friends keep alive the spirit of what Thanksgiving is all about and utilizes their time off of school and work to shower those they love the most with love and thanks.

Southeastern alumna Stacy McMorris says that she directly correlates Thanksgiving with spending quality time with her huge, blended family. As her siblings have grown up and moved away regular family gatherings seem to be a thing of the past. For the McMorris family, it seems that Thanksgiving is the one holiday where the most effort is put in by everyone to get together and spend quality time at their parents’ house.

McMorris said, “Every year my family and I celebrate by having a Thanksgiving breakfast. Whether that means we go out to eat or we all bring a dish to my parents’ house, we utilize this morning to get all of the siblings together before everyone goes their separate ways throughout the day.”

Perhaps one of the most modern Thanksgiving holiday celebrations is a new trend called “Friendsgiving”. Instead of solely having a dinner devoted to family time, many individuals are now planning dinners and celebrations to give thanks for the friendships they cherish in their lives. Many times the get-together isn’t on Thanksgiving, but is a staple to many American’s holiday season.

Senior nursing major Kayleigh Catalanatto says that starting her Friendsgiving celebration is one of the highlights of her year and proves to be a successful time for bonding and spreading thanks among her friendship circle.

“We started doing our Friendsgiving two years ago and refuse to ever end it. Many times throughout the year friends forget to enjoy the little aspects of our relationships, but devoting this day to each other rejuvenates our soul and bond,” Catalanatto said.

She says that instead of getting burnt out on traditional Thanksgiving dishes, her annual Friendsgiving celebration includes all of the girls’ favorite foods, which range from french fries, pizza, sushi, and guacamole.

Catalanatto said, “It’s not necessarily the most nutritious meal in the world, but we all enjoy it the most out of all of our respective holiday dinners we attend. The food is good for the soul and the company is good for the heart.”

Thanksgiving feasts are now easily accessible to those with little time to prepare or even smaller skills in the kitchen.

All participating Cracker Barrel locations offer a “Heat N’ Serve Holiday Family Meal To-Go” which feeds 10 for $99.99 and contains the turkey, dessert, and all the sides.

Walmart also makes holiday shopping simple by offering online Thanksgiving meal checklists and food bundles to lift some of the financial burden from shopping for feast preparation.

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