Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

What are your Thanksgiving traditions? Do you even know why you do them?

Every year on Thanksgiving before we eat, we share what we’re grateful for. We’ve only been doing that for a few years, and I honestly cannot remember how or why it started, just that it was important to us to teach our children gratitude.

Thanksgiving is all about tradition. From the consistency of the menu from year to year to the familiarity of the family gatherings.

It can be a good thing to shake up your traditions. My sister and I are both participating in a daily gratitude post on Facebook. It has really helped me see how much I have to be grateful for.

Here are some ideas for adding new traditions to your Thanksgiving. Who knows? Some of these ideas may become as important to your kids as turkey and pumpkin pie!

Show Your Gratitude by Giving Back

Instead of rushing out the door to go shopping shortly after stuffing your belly, why not head over to a soup kitchen or charitable location and serve up Thanksgiving and help the facility clean up? You’ll save money and do something that will make you feel good. Even better, invite someone to share your Thanksgiving meal – a soldier away from home, a college student stuck in town, a friend whose family isn’t around – to share the day in your home.

Cut Across the Miles

Families live farther apart than they used to, and there’s typically not enough time to travel for Thanksgiving to be with everyone. Coordinate your meals with those in the Westernmost states eating a bit early and those in the Eastern side of the U.S. eating a bit late so that you’re all eating at the same time. Set up laptops at all locations and video conference your dinner. It’s not the same as getting to eat your aunt’s delicious Cherry Tea Cake, but it’s better than not being together at all.


While we are almost always focused on family around Thanksgiving, connecting with special friends is fun too. It might be overwhelming to do the whole dinner with friends, but coordinating a dessert-go-round where a group of friends travel from home to home to sample desserts at each house can be the perfect end to a fabulous day.

Don’t let your turkey day become too stuffy – it’s ok to create new traditions at Thanksgiving that make the day more meaningful.