As a history teacher for 8th grade middle-schoolers I always found it appealing to diverge from the curriculum during the holidays. Knowing that my mind was definitely fixated on the festivities, I didn't want to have my students struggle to focus on someone else's history when they were much more interested in their own. So, starting with Halloween and ending with the December holidays, I assigned three different "Traditions" papers. The papers dealt with the child's individual family traditions for the holiday in question. Halloween, being the first and the one with the least traditions, always perplexed my classes and yielded the least stellar examples of writing. The Thanksgiving Traditions paper was my favorite. The students started to identify with what were truly unique traditions to their families and what bonded them. I would collect these assignments on this, the Monday of Thanksgiving week, and for the next three class sessions have the children set in a large circle and give a short presentation of their traditions based on the paper they had written. This assignment, though seemingly a time waster, actually was quite difficult and academic. The students were graded on content, writing/grammar, and their oral presentations. They were made to dissect the common activities of the days surrounding these major holidays and reflect on why they are the traditions their families hold dear. This is no easy task for most, but especially for 13-14 year old children. What I found as their teacher was a common thread woven around each child's family. From watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, to turkey roasting in the oven, and to football being a large part of Thanksgiving celebration. But I also found the most interesting nuggets that sparked wonderful ideas to bring to my own traditions. So, for that reason I am resurrecting the "Thanksgiving Traditions" directive here.
Please list your family's Thanksgiving Traditions. From menu to travel plans, television viewing to shopping, and holiday decorating to sleeping on the couch, list your Thanksgiving weekend traditions for all of us to read and enjoy. Not into writing in essay form? Use bullets! Not sure what you do? Ask the "boss" of the house (she'll tell you!). Traditions changed recently? Explain why! What I learned as a teacher and now as I writer, it's that we are more alike than dissimilar. That our habits and traditions tend to be related during these celebratory occasions, but when we have differences they are fascinating to read about and sometimes enticing to try for ourselves and our families. Help me to shine the light on the various Thanksgiving Traditions of my readership. And, for those of you in charge, did you take the bird out to thaw yet? It's probably time to do so!