10 Thanksgiving Traditions You Never Asked For But Still Have to Deal With

Wendy Robinson | Nov 16, 2016 Food & Party
Image: iStock.com/GMVozd


For my sister, Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving unless my mom makes her famous green bean casserole. For me, Thanksgiving isn't really Thanksgiving until my sister has a melt-down over someone else eating too much of the casserole. A Thanksgiving without tears or drama? Not in my family. 

When it comes to Thanksgiving traditions, we often think of the food -- all that stuffing, mountains of pie, and of course, the big bird.

But sometimes the moments that we remember about Thanksgiving year after year have nothing to do with what we ate and everything to do with family issues, funny moments, and finding out exactly who your creepy uncle is dating this year. 

Read on for the surprising, annoying, and sometimes sweet thanks that it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without. 

  • The Tape Recorder

    iStock.com/ sanjagrujic

    "Part of my Thanksgiving prep is making sure I have my digital recorder. Every year, we record an interview with my grandma or ask her to tell us a family story.

    She's 89 and I don't know how many more Thanksgivings we have together, so it feels really important to record as much of her life as we can. We do pie and coffee and then taping. Every year." -- Helen F., Polk City, Iowa

  • The New Girl

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    "It just isn't Thanksgiving until we see who my uncle Carl brings as his date. He ages and his girlfriends keep being 24. Yes, he's rich. Yes, it is creepy." -- Devon G., Baltimore, Maryland

  • The T-Shirt

    iStock.com/ Sunlight19

    "It is isn't Thanksgiving until I'm wearing my 'this is what a feminist looks like' T-shirt and listening to my racist father-in-law yell about Obama. Now that he-who-must-not-be named has been elected, I think Thanksgiving is going to be a train wreck." -- Name withheld by request

    More from CafeMom: 14 Thanksgiving Hacks to Save Your Time (& Sanity!) This Year

  • The Games

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    "Playing board games is a HUGE part of Thanksgiving for our family and it is totally high stakes. Losing a game means you have to clean the kitchen or do the dishes or be in charge of serving dessert. Winning can get you the comfy chair and out of cleaning detail for the whole night. It isn't Thanksgiving until someone screws you over in Trouble or dominoes." -- Katie D., Hayes, Kansas

  • The Arguement

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    "EVERY Thanksgiving my husband and his brothers get into some sort of arguement about something. There are six of them and they all have an opinion about EVERYTHING. They love to debate and will spend hours going back and forth. I need two things every year -- ear plugs and stuffing." -- Jessie S., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • The Joke

    iStock.com/ Courtney Keating

    "My fabulously gay cousin makes the same joke every year and every year it cracks me up. He carves the bird and dramatically announces that he 'wants the leg because you all know I'm not a breast man!'

    It is so stupid but it makes my mom blush every year and that makes me laugh and it wouldn't feel like Thanksgiving without it." -- Nicole M., Tempe, Arizona

  • The Big Game

    iStock.com/ YinYang

    "The best, most ;can't live without' part of Thanksgiving is watching football. We are a football family. My father-in-law played in the NFL and I love sitting around and cheering with everyone at the big screen. I'd be happy to eat peanut butter sandwiches and skip the big meal, as long as we have the game to watch." -- Iris D., Green Bay, Wisconsin

    More from CafeMom: 16 Thanksgiving Quotes About Gratitude & Grace

  • The Plan

    iStock.com/ Catherine Lane

    "Our Thanksgiving 'thing' is that we are power Black Friday shoppers. After the meal, we clear the table, get out the ads and our computer and make a shopping plan.

    Wars have been entered with less precision planning. My mom is a Black Friday ninja-- she knows how to get us in and out and the best way to plan our attack. Then we all take a nap because we'll hit the stores as soon as they open. I can't imagine not doing that on Thanksgiving." -- Sarah F., Tucson, Arizona

  • The Race

    iStock.com/ Christopher Futcher

    "We do a turkey trot every year as a family. Like a whole family -- last year we had 19 people in the race! Usually the weather is great (yay, California) and it is so fun to run together before the carb explosion later on." -- Lauren K., San Diego, California

  • The Friends

    Image via iStock.com/ shironosov

    "Both my husband's family and mine live in Minnesota. It is just too expensive to fly there for Thanksgiving, so we have 'Friendsgiving' instead. There is a group of us who all have family that live far away and we get together.

    It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without our friends to share it with. They make it feel like California can be home too." -- Simone W., San Francisco, California


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