By Sarah Hager
The sound of hearty laughter fills the room as the sweet smell of stuffed turkey and homemade apple pie wafts in from the kitchen. On this upcoming Thurs., Nov. 24, millions of Americans across the country will get together with family and friends to celebrate the annual holiday of gratitude and the source of these merry sensations: Thanksgiving.
With Halloween over, many people have jumped straight into full-fledged Christmas mode, overlooking one of the nation’s most cherished holidays. A reflection of the best-loved Thanksgiving traditions serves as a great way to get into the turkey-eating spirit and pay the final Thursday of November the respect it deserves.
For most of the American population, Thanksgiving is a day to gather with loved ones and appreciate the joys of life.
“It means sitting down with family and just having a good time,” said Batavia High School freshman Audrey Pellico.
While being surrounded by the ones you care about most is essential, Thanksgiving is never truly complete without a feast.
“I love the whole atmosphere of cooking food all day,” said Maira Weitkamp, a BHS junior.
Traditionally, meals consist of items such as cranberry sauce, rolls, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, casseroles, and a variety of pies for dessert. While basic menu items are often the same, everyone has their own ways of preparing Thanksgiving classics.
“I love my grandma’s mashed potatoes,” said Sarah Gillerlain, a sophomore at Batavia High School. “They are always the hit, and I could eat a giant plate of them.”
Everyone has their own special recipes that they prepare annually, but there is one iconic dish that immediately comes to mind when the word Thanksgiving is heard. This iconic dish is part of a pair more perfect than bacon and eggs, cookies and milk, and even peanut butter and jelly: Thanksgiving and turkey.
Long hours, and sometimes even days, are spent thawing, stuffing, and cooking the bird to perfection. For many, the process is a tradition in itself.
“My aunt lives on a farm so I’m able to help with the meal by plucking the turkey and duck,” Pellico said.
However, like all other holidays, no one celebrates Thanksgiving in exactly the same way. In some cases, turkey is not necessarily a vital part of the gathering.
“I think the strangest thing we do on Thanksgiving is my family eats chicken instead of turkey,” Weitkamp said. “My family isn’t a huge turkey fan.”
While Thanksgiving is primarily centered around overdosing on delicious food, there are many smaller, yet no less meaningful, traditions.
“I love watching the Macy’s Day Parade while preparing for everyone to come over with my mom,” Gillerlain said.
The televised procession of floats, music, and dancing through the streets of New York City provides entertainment for millions of Americans across the country.
Another popular form of holiday entertainment is football. As with its connection to turkey, Thanksgiving is also directly associated with football. Whether it be watching a game on TV or taking part in a round of flag football in the backyard, this widely popular sport is a central aspect of many Thanksgiving celebrations.
“My dad and brother go out and play football with a bunch of other guys in the morning,” Gillerlain said.
Although football and food are important to celebrations, sometimes the smaller, more unique traditions are the most cherished.
“My favorite tradition is the two youngest kids in our family get to pull the wishbone,” Weitkamp said, “and then obviously whoever gets the bigger part wishes for something. I usually win every year.”
Regardless of what the holiday looks like for each individual, Thanksgiving is appreciated in its own special way by citizens in all corners of the country.
“It’s for sure one of my favorite holidays!” Pellico said.
While it is tempting to get prematurely wrapped up in the anticipation of the Christmas season, it is important not to lose sight of another one of the most beloved days of the year. So take Thanksgiving off of that shelf in the back of your mind and give November’s most glorious Thursday the excitement and respect it is due.