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Growth Spurts: Not-So-Traditional Thanksgivings

When I was growing up, every year we had the same Thanksgiving tradition at my grandparents’ house. It was always my family, my aunt, my uncle, my cousins, my grandparents, turkey, dressing (the best I’ve ever had!), twice-baked
potatoes, homemade rolls, fresh-baked pies, talking and cleaning in the kitchen for the women, football on TV for the men, and football in the yard for the kids. As predictable as it was, I really treasured this tradition. It was both comfortable and comforting (especially the food).

Now that I’m married and have children, we’ve started our own Thanksgiving tradition–in that, we have none. We actually like it this way. We like keeping our options open. Some years we’ve spent the holiday with our families; some years we’ve hosted it at our house and invited friends who didn’t have plans to go anywhere else; some years we’ve cooked food for the homeless; some years we’ve gone to other friends’ homes; one year we even went to a family’s home where we only knew one person! They’ve all been different experiences, but they’ve all been great.

I definitely believe that family traditions are important. We have plenty around our house. But I also think that it’s good to incorporate the tradition of adaptability. It doesn’t necessarily have to happen on a major holiday; that’s just how it’s worked for my family. Since Thanksgiving is a time we specifically set aside for being thankful for all that we have and for sharing it with others, we like to consider what the greatest needs are for those around us on that day. Sometimes that greatest need is simply to spend the day with our families, which is wonderful. But sometimes we’re called to something else. Sometimes “doing what we’ve always done” can hinder our being open to new experiences or meeting other people’s needs.

I once heard of a woman who, when she cooked a roast, always lopped off a chunk of the end of it and threw it away. Observing this, her friend once asked her why she did this. “I don’t know,” she replied. “My mother always did it this way.” This got her to thinking, so she called her mother and asked her why she always cut the end off of the roast. “I don’t know,” her mother replied. “My mother always did it this way.” Now on a mission, the woman called up her grandmother to find out why, in fact, this line of women always cut off the ends of roasts. “Honey,” Grandma told her, “I never had a pan big enough to hold an entire roast!”

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! May your traditions have a point!


Carrie Bevell Partridge wishes she could carry on the tradition of her grandmother’s homemade dressing and rolls but may have to settle for Stove Top and Sister Shubert. Visit Carrie’s blogs: and

About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at and

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