Charlie & Debbie

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Thanksgiving traditions Southerners will never let go of are plentiful.  As much as I love Christmas, I have to admit I am partial to certain aspects of Thanksgiving.   I think it has something to do with the family gathering and the food, of course.  And, I love Fall. Plus, it’s the start of the holidays, with so much more to look forward to.  It’s also nice not having the stress of all the shopping and gift buying.  Also, just like Christmas, Thanksgiving has many traditions people from all walks of life share.

But, according to Southern Living magazine, Thanksgiving traditions southerners celebrate are unique and deeply rooted.  In fact, you hold them so close, you’ll never let go of them. Some of them may be less of a tradition and more of a subconscious habit. In any case, we embrace them just the same. This list reminds us of all those unforgettable moments shared around the table for the biggest feast of the year. I also added a few of my own to the list that I feel, at least in my house, are time-honored traditions.  See if you spot any of your family in this list of Thanksgiving traditions southerners are proud to never let go of.

  • The Blessing

    The tradition of giving thanks is one we hold dear.  Whatever your beliefs, I think we all agree that it’s important to stop and be grateful.  In many households, a utensil is not lifted until heads are bowed in thanks.  I know this isn’t solely a southern tradition. But, typically, southerners especially, bestow this honor upon head of the household or grandparent.  It may even be the duty of a favorite aunt or uncle.  It doesn’t matter.  This is a sacred moment, and Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without hearing that special prayer.  Hopefully it’s delivered by someone besides “Aunt Bethany” from our beloved holiday favorite “Christmas Vacation.”  Although, it certainly would be a treasured and memorable moment.

  • Dressing

    The dressing is a vital component of the southern Thanksgiving table. Even though every variety of this side dish contains some form of bread, vegetable and broth, that’s about the only similarities. “Stuffing” as some folks call it, usually has some fruit or even sausage. And, I’m guessing the name comes from the tradition of “stuffing” it inside the bird. I’ve never done that for a number of reasons. However, everyone has their preference. Most southerners use cornbread as the base for a good dressing to serve alongside the turkey. It’s one of my favorite parts of the meal. And, of course, Southern Living’s MeMaw’s Cornbread Dressing is a popular recipe.

  • Casseroles

    We love our casseroles.  They’re perfect for every occasion.  We make them when someone suffers a loss in the family, has a baby, moves to a new home, and when family gathers for a holiday.  I have to have the classic Green Bean Casserole every Thanksgiving.  However, my favorite Thanksgiving casserole is a Sweet Potato Puff I’ve made for countless years.  We leave out the coconut because the folks I make it for don’t enjoy coconut as much as I do.  It’s technically a side dish.  But, it’s so sweet and yummy, it could be a dessert.  I think we love our casseroles so much because they’re easy, economical and freeze beautifully!

  • Gimme Some Sugar

    When the doorbell rings and the relatives arrive, they bring the “sugar.”  All the grandmas and aunts grab  your face and say, “gimme some sugar!”  They usually reference how much you’ve grown no matter how old you are.  I guess you can continue to grow after 50.  Although, it may be horizontally rather than vertically, LOL.  It is, however, a sweet tradition.  Cherish those moments, because one day you’ll miss them.  Again, our favorite Christmas movie illustrates the moment perfectly.

  • It's All About The Football

    Football is very important to us, especially on Thanksgiving.  It’s the backdrop for the feast.  Usually after the meal, everyone finds their spot on the couch and the game is on.  We have our teams and playful arguments ensue.  Let the ritual rooting begin.  In our house, we’re probably enjoying our pecan or pumpkin pie during the pre-game and maybe again during the halftime.

  • Drawing Names For Christmas Gifts

    We’re always planning ahead.  So, as long as the whole family is together, we take the opportunity to put names in a bowl and draw to see who we need to shop for.  If you have a big family, it’s the only affordable way to approach the holiday.  Everyone gets a gift, and nobody goes broke shopping.  Plus, Thanksgiving is probably the only time before Christmas that everyone will be all together.  It’s a fun tradition that allows each person to shop more purposefully and thoughtfully.


  • Deviled Eggs

    I don’t know about your table, but ours always has deviled eggs on it.  I guess that’s a Southern thing.  We’ve just always had them.  I love a basic deviled egg, but I also really like a variation with a little sweet and spicy kick.  My recipe adds in some candied bacon and a fresh jalapeno slice.  It was inspired by an appetizer we had at a barbeque restaurant years ago.  My son loved them, so I had to figure out how to make them.  It wouldn’t be a Southern Thanksgiving without them.

  • A Tex-Mex Holiday

    Some time before the feast, or after we’re tired of leftovers, a lot of folks in the South love to have a Tex-Mex buffet.  It might include a taco bar, fajitas, tamales or all of the above.  We take our Tex-Mex seriously.  And, the spicier the better!  As much as I adore Thanksgiving dishes, at some point, I feel the need to cut through the cream of soup and bread recipes with a little kick.  We did this during a family holiday a couple years ago, and it was a big hit.

  • Hounding The Singles About Getting Married And The Couples About Having Babies

    No doubt if you’re single and show up to the Thanksgiving celebration, the family will quiz you about your status.  Why aren’t you settling down yet?  Have you met anyone interesting?  And, if you are recently married, the question of children, grand babies comes up.  It’s just a family thing.  It probably happens all over, but maybe the southern mamas feel a little bolder about the questions?  The above links have some snappy responses to the questions.  And no one knows better than Dolly Parton how to respond to the children question.  She’s always ready with a witty response.

  • The Fried Turkey

    Years ago, our Augusta, Georgia friends introduced us to the fried turkey.  At first, I thought it was the most ridiculous idea ever.  I was picturing a battered turkey much like a fried chicken.  However, it’s not like that at all.  It’s actually just slathered in a seasoned up mayo and dropped in a vat of peanut oil.  It’s not the healthiest proposal, but, hey, it’s one day!  You just need to take extra care not to burn anyone.  And, don’t start a fire!  These days we use an electric fryer that can be used safely indoors.  It’s a breeze.  Plus, the oven isn’t taken up with a bird for hours.  This method just takes a few minutes per pound.  The result is a delicious crispy golden turkey that’s picture perfect.

    Fried Turkey