HomeFeaturesThanksgiving: Traditions That Never Quit or Some that Should

Thanksgiving: Traditions That Never Quit or Some that Should

By Pat Nowak

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is steeped in tradition. The annual flag football game, the turkey stuffed with Aunt Ethel’s secret recipe stuffing, not cooking and attending the annual Detroit Lions game, the pumpkin pie secret handed down from generation to generation and eating far too much. Does any of this sound familiar?

I never had to worry about cooking the Thanksgiving feast as my mother mother-in-law took care of the holiday. But when they no longer could, and it to me to pick up the mantle and begin anew integrating the old traditions with the new.  We still celebrate with almost everyone in the family – three generations, from age one to over 70. Our family still has the annual craziness about my sister Carol’s red cake (you have to have direct lineage to my parents to get an interior piece and if you are an in-law, good luck), there is never any left. But one of our favorites is to include city chicken at our holiday table. My mother introduced it when we were small and years later my nephew Nick has taken responsibility for making it.  But no matter what your traditions are, I am sure that your family, like ours, celebrates with some special rituals handed down from generation to generation.

I asked some friends to share their family Thanksgiving traditions (some heartwarming and some hilarious) and I included a couple of recipes that might be interesting to try this year.


The *@!n+# bird

Kathy Carroll: My thanksgiving tradition is to undercook the turkey and spend an hour and a half cursing, cutting it into serving parts and putting it in the microwave. Thank God we have all had a couple drinks by then.

Daily gratitude list

Trina Meadows: The first is that after we say grace and before we eat, we each take a turn and express something we are grateful for. The second, my personal favorite, is that each November 1st, I begin a daily gratitude list. Each day throughout the month of November. I write down something that I am grateful for. I find it to be so refreshing to focus on being thankful the entire month before Christmas madness begins.


The runaway turkey

Sally Goligoski: adds some humor to her Thanksgiving stories. You will only want my Thanksgiving stories if you need humor. We lost a leftover 26-pound turkey for five months and finallyfound it in March, out on the porch, but many shades of green.I think this might be the ultimate menopause memory problem. Since then I am known as the turkey lady in Perrysburg.

Another time, I got bored while mashing potatoes and put them in the Cuisinart instead of breaking down the gluten. They were beautiful, but wallpaper paste tastes better!! That same year my sister-in-law somehow used salt instead of sugar in the pumpkin pies; they were also inedible.

The next year we went to see family in Milwaukee. I am now banned from Thanksgiving there. They had to repaint the kitchen walls and ceiling after I dropped a Tupperware bowl full of cranberry relish while clearing the table. It bounced, ricocheted up to the ceiling fan which was on and the kitchen looked like a crime scene with red splatter everywhere, even behind the appliances and inside the cupboards.


Cranberry Jello Salad

Trina Meadow’s Recipe

  • 1# pkg cranberries
  • 2 c. water

cook on med low until cranberries pop


  • 1-6oz pkg cherry jello.

Stir to dissolve and cool


  • 1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 c. canned Oregon white grapes
  • 1 c. crushed unsweetened natural pineapple drained
  • Chill overnight and top in morning


  • 6-oz pkg softened cream cheese
  • ½ pint whipping cream
  • 1 c. miniature marshmallows
  1. Place all in metal mixing bowl, chill overnight.
  2. Whip and top cranberry jello salad
  3. Fabulous on a leftover turkey sandwich!

City Chicken

Harriet Stack’s Recipe

(please note: as often is the case with recipes handed down there are no accurate measurements)

  • City Chicken is cubes of veal, pork and beef placed on a skewer (usually it is best to pick up at a meat market)
  • 3 cans of juice from large cans of mushrooms – not the mushrooms (save them for another day)
  • Garlic Salt, Salt and Pepper to taste Fill a large bowl with flour
  1. Add a thin layer of garlic salt, salt and pepper on top of the flour and mix all together
  2. Dip skewers into the flour mixture and then dip the floured skewer into the mushroom juice
  3. Brown the meat on medium heat – use equal parts butter and crisco on a stove top
  4. After they are browned, put in a roaster pan and pour remaining mushroom juice and a little water on top of them in the roasting pan.
  5. Bake in an oven at 350 degrees – 1 ½ to 2 hours or until meat is tender making sure to baste them occasionally

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