Inedible (But Still Incredible) Thanksgiving Traditions


It’s easy to think about Thanksgiving purely in terms of food. Preparing and cooking a turkey dinner with multiple sides and desserts is no small feat. (Neither is eating that dinner, if you do it the right way and have some of everything!) But so much about Thanksgiving is lovely, even aside from the meal—especially the family traditions. Here are some of my personal favorites:

Pre-Gobble Activity. I always have wanted to be a Turkey Trot family, but the fact is that I (and most members of my family) hate running. Luckily, there are other ways to be active on Thanksgiving—walks, family dance parties, etc. If we weren’t going to be in Houston with my husband’s family this year, I would go to Indigo Yoga‘s annual Thanksgiving Day gratitude class. The only thing better than stuffing my face full of stuffing is getting to do it guilt-free.

Background Entertainment. In our house, unless we’re watching a particular program, we keep the television off. Not on Thanksgiving! Between the Macy’s Day Parade, the UT/A&M football game, the 24-hour TBS A Christmas Story marathon, and whatever show my family happens to be binge-watching, there’s always something on that somebody wants to see.

Santa Selection. My extended family is big and growing all the time. With so many people, it is difficult to give a nice and thoughtful gift to everyone. So, we made the decision a few years ago to do a Secret Santa. Every year on Thanksgiving, we draw names, and each person gets one extended family member as his or her recipient. I love both the Secret Santa tradition and the name-picking ceremony, as it has come to mark the beginning of my favorite time of year!

Game Playing. The hard thing about growing up is that you really only get to see your whole family in the same room a few days a year—on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and random special occasions. When my family gets together, the games come out. Balderdash inevitably makes an appearance on Thanksgiving night, and I’m always struck by two things while we play: (1) uncontrollable giggling and non-existent poker faces must be genetic; and (2) my family is SO FUN. Our other favorite games include Scattergories, Charades, and (when the kids and the “grown-ups” go to sleep) Cards Against Humanity.

Thanks Giving. The best—and the most important—part of every Thanksgiving is the part where we go around the table and each family member says what he or she is thankful for. I make sure to do this every year, whether I’m with my family or with my husband’s, and I am never sorry. This year, I’m going to challenge my family to dig deep and express gratitude for something other than each other. With so much to be grateful for—our health, our jobs, our friends, our homes—it shouldn’t be hard at all.

What are you thankful for this year?  What are your non-food Thanksgiving traditions?

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Mary, a Fort Worth native, met her husband Dwayne during her first year of law school when he, a third-year law student, was assigned to be her mentor. Mary was thrilled when Dwayne suggested making Cowtown their home in 2010, and the last few years have been anything but boring. Spending quality time with her husband/best friend, raising her sweet Austin (2012) and Emily (2014), and navigating her legal career keep Mary's plate (and heart) constantly filled to the brim. In her rare moments of spare time, Mary generally can be found posting adorable photos on Instagram, blogging at A Friendly Harbor, catching up with dear friends, or lying catatonic on the sofa.


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