A Thanksgiving dinner is one of the quintessential family gathering meals. In Canada (second Monday in October) and in the United States (forth Thursday of November) families get together for a celebratory meal. Some families say prayers of thanks and others may just go around the table and take turns listing things for which they are thankful. The meal usually is larger than a normal meal. It often includes richer or fancier menu items and fall harvest vegetables. Many families have their own favorite traditions or foods. Some celebrate with a large mid-day or lunch meal, and others with a late afternoon or evening supper.
It's a good idea to have some appetizers ready for people to eat while waiting for the guests to gather and the dinner to be ready.
Turkey is usually considered the core of the meal (at least for the U.S. Thanksgiving)
- cranberry sauce or jelly
- gravy (usually made from the baked meat's juice thickened with wheat flour or cornstarch
- stewed apples
- green bean casserole
- yams or sweet potatos, sometimes "candied" or in a casserole or pie
- baked or mashed potatos
- corn on the cob
- macaroni and cheese
- bread, dinner rolls or cornbread
- stuffing or dressing (It's called stuffing when it's cooked inside the meat, usually turkey, and dressing if it's cooked separately.
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Forever on Thanksgiving Day
In addition to the meal and giving thanks, some other common activities include
- helping at a soup kitchen or food pantry (providing help for those less fortunate)
- watching an American football game -- either live or on television
- telling family stories
- attending, participating in or watching parades
- making Thanksgiving decorations (often used to prepare children or keep them busy, but also by people who like fancy table settings)
- drawing turkeys from handprints - trace around your hand, make the thumb a head by adding eyes, comb, beak, add a round curve for the wing on the body (palm area), add stick legs, and make the 4 fingers into back feathers, the ones that stick up
- make and decorate place cards (with the name of each person and a decoration for that person) to be set at each person's place at the table
- arrange flowers or fruit for a centerpiece (You may want to remove this to make space for the food after the appetizers or first courses)
What other traditions does your family have? Or what other traditions have you heard of?
- special meal
- Christmas dinner (Many of the same foods are traditional for many families' Christmas dinners.
- set the table