Inspire Thanksgiving Traditions


Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Inspire! Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays and we each have traditions unique to our families. What are your traditions?


I look forward to hosting my immediate family (15 guests) for Thanksgiving each year. I start the day around 4:30 a.m. prepping the turkey and sides and then head out to run our local 5K turkey trot and make it back in time to see the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and to finish the trimmings for a noon lunch. We celebrate our second Thanksgiving with my husband’s family that evening. After we get the kiddos to bed, you can usually find me dragging up the Christmas decorations to get a head start the next morning.


My grandfather was a potato farmer so every Thanksgiving, potatoes were the main dish. And not just one type of potatoes – we had at least five potato dishes including twice baked potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes and hash brown casserole. Even though he’s gone, we continue to prepare these dishes every holiday and enjoy the food we were raised on.


My family keeps our Thanksgiving celebration pretty intimate, so growing up my mom would make a giant feast for only a handful of people. The past couple years, instead of spending hours in the kitchen, my family gets together at the Rivers Casino in downtown Pittsburgh, we eat as much as we possibly can at the buffet (which is great for me since I don’t love turkey!) and then spend the rest of the day gambling. Some may call it untraditional, but we have a blast every year and always meet new friends who have the same idea as us!


We have a very untraditional Thanksgiving. Last year, for example, my mom and cousin sat on the kitchen counter and ate corn casserole straight out of the crockpot. We just get like to get together and spend the day cooking, eating, laughing and enjoying each other’s company!


I always had two Thanksgivings so I would spend the first part of my day with the dad’s family and then go to my mom’s in the evening. On my dad’s side, we would eat our faces off with all of my Italian cousins and then pick out names for secret Santa. At my mom’s, we always started off our meal saying something that we are thankful for.


Thanksgiving is the one holiday that my mom’s side of the family gets together. Between my aunts, uncles, cousins and their extended families, we’ve grown to 50+ of us all crammed into my grandparents’ house. It’s loud and chaotic, but I can’t imagine spending Thanksgiving any other way!


I love cooking so I’m always the host. We eat the same things basically every year, so everyone has a role – Courtney makes mashed potatoes, James carves the turkey, my parents bring veggies and fresh baked bread and Nick shows up and eats. My trick for the most amazing turkey skin and gravy base is basting my turkey in butter and white wine.


Thanksgiving has always been the favorite holiday for my family! Traditionally, the Wednesday before, we do a fish fry at my aunt’s house with all of my relatives. Thanksgiving morning usually consists of cinnamon rolls, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and of course, the National Dog Show. For a few years, my cousins and I would play flag football in our backyard, but as we’ve gotten older, we’ve retired that tradition. For the feast, my dad makes his famous oyster stuffing every year (yes, oysters) and we also always have Amish noodles, which I didn’t realize until recently wasn’t a typical Thanksgiving side dish. We end the night with endless rounds of catchphrase following many glasses of wine.   


Every year, we always watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade which is something I grew up doing with my mom and now do with my daughter. I also always make my grandma’s stuffing recipe.


My family travels from five different states (as far away as California!) to Ann Arbor, Michigan to spend Thanksgiving together, where we all cook dinner together at my uncle’s house and are in charge of making different dishes (mine are corn pudding and green beans). Many of us run the turkey trot together on Thanksgiving morning and then, on Saturday, loudly watch the Ohio State vs. Michigan game (in our blue and gold).


Every Thanksgiving (weather permitting), my family takes a long walk in the afternoon before dinner. After dinner, we play a bunch of games like euchre, Heads Up and Pictionary. I look forward to the pistachio pudding every year! We eat it with dinner even though it seems like a dessert and I am not mad about it.  


Once we’re sufficiently stuffed with our favorite Thanksgiving foods – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce – my family likes to break out our favorite games to play together. My favorites are Heads Up, Speak Out and, of course, Banana Grams. If you’ve never tried to play Speak Out after Thanksgiving dinner, I highly suggest.


Every Thanksgiving my mom and I bake pies together to take to my aunt and uncle’s house. For the last ten years, we’ve cheated and used store-bought pie crust mix instead of making it from scratch, and my grandpa has always complimented our crusts. Last year we finally told him they come from a box.


We usually go to my sister’s house in West Virginia every year. This year, we are excited to start a new tradition celebrating my son Rhys’s birthday – he turns one the day after Thanksgiving!