Appalachia Holidays in Appalachia

Traditions Of Thanksgiving

Turkey day

For me Thanksgiving has always been a time to gather with my family-eat a lot of good food and enjoy each other’s company. The only real tradition we have-is turkey and Granny’s pumpkin pies. The side dishes might change but we always have turkey and pumpkin pie. I think I was an adult before I realized-you could actually cook turkey any time you wanted too. Growing up we only had it twice a year-at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I ask a few folks if they would share a Thanksgiving tradition or memory with me. This is what I got:

Names in a bowl


Fishing Guy said:

We have a bowl with the names of everyone at the Thanksgiving table. You pass the bowl around the table and each person chooses a name from the bowl. Then each person at the table takes a turn to share with everyone at the table why they are thankful for the person they have chosen. I feel this is a wonderful tradition and a neat time of sharing on the day for giving thanks for what we have been given.

Miss Cindy


Miss Cindy said:

My best Thanksgiving memories are of helping Pop-my Dad- make dressing/stuffing for the turkey. My Mom wasn’t much of a cook but my Dad was a good cook and he enjoyed cooking. So the night before Thanksgiving we would make a vat full of dressing from a family recipe. We would add things then taste until it was “right”. I actually liked this dressing better before it was cooked! I still think that recipe is the best. I’ve made the same recipe with The Deer Hunter. It’s great to pass things down.

Leave pin symbolizes thankfulness


Carolyn-the nicest lady in Baltimore said:

The tradition with our family was to play a game before dinner. I especially liked the one my youngest sister came up with. She made leaf pins that everyone had to wear and during dinner conversation you could not say the word “Thanks”. It was very hard having to remember to say, “I appreciate that…instead of “thanks” when someone passed something. If you slipped and said “thanks” to another person, that person would get your pin…it was fun trying to trick people into saying it. “Oh, I really like your shoes!” “Thanks, I got them yesterday.” “May I have your pin please?” “Darn it , you tricked me!” At the end of dinner everyone would gather around and see how may pins everyone had. Two people with the most pins won a prize. Nothing big…I myself won a little set of battery operated candlesticks. What fun we had!



Becky of Twisted Fencepost Fame (and who attracts angry cows) had several-she said:

A friend of mine, before she passed away, always decorated her Christmas tree on Thanksgiving evening; The wishbone was always wished and pulled on by my brother and I; The guys always go hunting on Thanksgiving morning, while the gals stay home and prepare the meal; My Mother’s first time to serve Thanksgiving dinner, she forgot to take the giblet bag out of the turkey. It was discovered by her Mother-n-law. She was very embarrassed; When my kids were little, they always had a Santa letter ready. And it magically disappeared during Thanksgiving dinner.

The Ladies in Appalachia


Terry said:

One of my fondest memories about Thanksgiving would be the whole day. We always went to Granny and Pa’s house, my Daddy’s folks. Since Pa always said a lady looked nice in a dress, we always got fancied up, but brought play clothes to change into. Granny would warn all the men going quail hunting to be back and ready to eat, AT NOON. She would cook the turkey, chicken n noodles, ham, pumpkin and pecan pies, and the aunts would all bring the sides. 3 bean salad, Hawaiian salad, homemade dinner rolls, and the like. We cousins were stuck in the outer room around card tables, and every year Granny would pick one of us to sit at the big table to eat with the guys. The ladies always ate last. The guys usually went next door to my Uncle’s house to watch football and nap. Granny wouldn’t eat much I guess because she was always doing up the posts and pans. I was so proud when I finally got old enough to help do the dishes. Kinda like a rite of passage. Although I only have Pa and Granny in my memory, I still try to do the dishes shortly after dinner.


I hope you’ve enjoyed the memories and traditions as much as I have! And I hope you’ll leave me a comment about a favorite Thanksgiving memory or tradition you have.


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in November of 2008.


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  • Reply
    Madge @ TheViewFromRightHere
    November 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving Tipper (albeit belated)…

  • Reply
    November 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    I just always loved everybody being together at Thanksgiving.
    I would say just one thing about Miss Cindy’s photo. DANG!

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    November 21, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Turkey, dressing, giblet gravy,
    mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce or/and cranberry-orange relish, and green beans. If company was coming, Mom would add sweet potatoes, stuffed celery, creamed pearl onions, and red-hot cinnamon apples. Sometimes she added these anyway…For stretchers and fillers she would add slaw, (best winter slaw you ever tasted), Brussel sprouts, deviled eggs and rolls…If that didn’t fill you up, then add pumpkin pie, pecan pie, prune cake and/or apple cake.
    How in the world did she do it….”She cooked too much!” Dad would say, but that didn’t stop him from tasteing everything on the table…
    Thanks Tipper,
    I am going to make some cinnamon red hot apple rings…

  • Reply
    November 21, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Thanksgiving is my favorite time
    of the year, filled with memories
    of younger days. Daddy would get
    us boys up early and we’d fill up
    our old ’53 chevy and head out for
    Rainbow Springs. There was enough
    of us to just about hem up a deer.
    But we’d usually be back by 1 pm
    and that ole Winesap limb hung
    many a buck. Mama would have a
    couple of baked hens and the best
    dressing, that’s where I learned
    how to make it too. Everything
    was cooked on a wood stove and I
    think that made it better,
    especially the biscuits.
    Miss Cindy’s picture is gorgeous!
    She ain’t changed much, just the
    length of her hair. That explains
    Chitter and Chatter’s beautiful

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    November 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    thank you for sharing such wonderful stories as usual , tipper and family i wish you a very happy thanksgiving filled with love and family
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    November 21, 2012 at 11:13 am

    It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without stuffing the way Mom used to make it. I make it every year, but it never is quite as good as hers was. But every Thanksgiving I think of her putting it together and me and the kids eating spoonfuls of it before it went into the oven.Yum!

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    November 21, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Wonderful to read everyone’s remembrances. Thanks, Tipper. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2012 at 9:10 am

    My Mama worked as a nurse. On her Thanksgivings off, she spent the day cooking a feast. Our dinner menu never varied. I recall home-canned green beans, mashed taters, sweet taters, dressing, turkey, and cranberry relish. Her parents lived with us from the time I was six until their deaths, but I don’t recall other family members joining us that day. Aunt Katy. who was no kin, but a retired nurse in our town always ate with us. My daughter and I still make Mama’s cranberry relish recipe every year. Our meal would be incomplete without it even though it never tastes as good as Mama’s did.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Having wonderful memories of being with our families and friends during Thanksgiving and Christmas adds so much depth and richness to our lives. I really enjoyed reading everyones posts, you can detect a common thread of love of family in each one.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    November 21, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I loved the memories you shared. I always remember traveling to my dad’s sister’s home for her wonderful cooking and baking. She made some sort of apple cake that we always looked forward to. She always had a bountiful of everything, especially the turnips which my dad loved. We learned to love them, also. Although I am well into senior years, I am still thankful for the freedoms we have in this country and that God continues to bless us all.

  • Reply
    janet pressley
    November 21, 2012 at 7:20 am

    What’s the hawaiann salad?

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 21, 2012 at 6:25 am

    Yes, what a beautiful woman she is. Thanks for sharing your memories.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 21, 2012 at 5:48 am

    That’s Miss Cindy? Wow-weee! No wonder Chitter and Chatter are so purty. They’re getting it all directions.

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