Every year, since I was a kid, we start Thanksgiving at the Macy’s parade. That remains are family tradition although this year, I think we have decided to watch at home. That’s because last year was torturously cold. Since Mike and I got married, we’ve been having Thanksgiving dinner at his cousins’ home in Brooklyn, where they continue thier family tradition of a Thanksgiving talent show. This means we are all required to prepare something to perform. As the least talented family at the dinner (most of Mike’s cousins play instruments pretty seriously), Mike and I have become somewhat known as the comedic relief. The first year, I sang the song “Lollipop” and Mike just stood there until he had to make the popping sound. Now that we have the kids to perform with, our act has improved a bit. Last year, I sang with Harlow, while Mike and Mazzy surprised everyone by performing the entire “Who’s on First?” skit from Abbott and Costello. This year, Mazzy has written a sketch comedy act for us, so that should be pretty interesting. It’s about a home decor project gone wrong. I wonder where she got this idea from!

The next night, we always continue the festivities at my mom’s tradition of Friday Thanksgiving at her house. This way, my sister, my stepbrothers and I can all celebrate separately with in-laws on Thursday and still get to celebrate together without splitting our time at two different houses. The cousins are always thrilled to be all together. It’s especially exciting to have my stepbrother’s kids there, because we only see them once or twice a year. My mom makes the best turkey (even Mike agrees) and then, for as long as I can remember, my mom serves a Carvel ice cream cake for my birthday as dessert. Then we all sleepover at Grammy’s, even though my sister and I live close enough to drive home.

I asked you guys to tell me your favorite Thanksgiving traditions over on @mommyshortssquad and I thought I would feature a few of my favorites here. In addition to learning about how others celebrate, one person commented, “I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year, so I can’t wait to get some ideas for how to make it my own!”

36 Heartfelt and Hilarious Thanksgiving Traditions:

1) “When I was in elementary school we had a scripted Thanksgiving journal prompt and I wrote about everyone’s important jobs in great detail (grandma decorates, dad carves the turkey etc.) and at the end I wrote, ‘Oh, and Mom makes the peas.’ So, now, every year, my mom has one job. The peas.” – Peyton

2) “Every year, my mother makes creamed pearl onions and gravy with giblets. A few years ago, I noticed that both dishes sit on the table and remain entirely untouched. I asked her why she continues to make them, when no one eats them. She told me that those dishes were my grandmother and aunt’s favorite dishes. Even though both of them had passed away years ago, she had grown up having those dishes on her Thanksgiving table and the holiday wasn’t complete without the family’s favorite dishes. It is a generous act of remembering those who are no longer with us, and being thankful for their memory.” – L. Natoli

3) “For several years, our family ended up in a small food fight at the end of dinner. Sounds so uncivilized. I guess it was. It started from a really nasty looking grape in the fruit salad one year. And then every year after that, there were a few of us that would collect a small pile of ammunition to use after everyone ate. It was mostly my dad and I. He’s gone now and I really have no desire to start that tradition again. It was uniquely ours.” – Erika

4) “My family is from Ethiopia, Norway and Sweden, but we lived in Wheaton, IL for four years in the 80’s and 90’s when I was a child. We were always invited to people’s houses for Thanksgiving and got to see so many beautiful homes and traditions unlike anything we’d ever experienced before. I remember it feeling almost magical. As an undergrad, I moved to Boston and again, Thanksgiving was this amazing holiday way better than all other holidays. We live back in Norway now, but decided to start celebrating Thanksgiving again after my Mom passed away 8 years ago. We make a huge turkey, four times the amount of necessary stuffing, mashed potatoes, barn pudding (I think it’s also called corn pudding) and dinner rolls. Most importantly, we go around the table and say one thing we are grateful for from the past year. Our kids are starting to get the hang of it now too and it’s wonderful hearing what they’ve thought about the weeks leading up to that night.” – Christina

5) “For years, we fried a turkey and then okra. But before the okra, we had to soak up the turkey flavor so mandolined potatoes went into the pot. Pull those out, put on a pinch of salt and pair them with a cold beer. Best Thanksgiving potato chips ever!!” – Carly

6) “The night before, we decorate brown paper bag turkeys and then the Turkey leaves presents in them overnight. Not huge gifts, but a few things for the kids to play with while traveling from house to house.” – Jenna

7) “We have a Thanksgiving tradition of forgetting to pull names for our family grab bag. So then it’s up to me to randomly assign names. I use a website that’s made specifically for this, but every year, my sister complains that it’s rigged. It’s a 4 year tradition, going strong!” – Jeana

8) “I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year for the first time. In the past, my MIL has always hosted. It’s a very fancy affair with the good China, GOLD silverware, multiple place settings, dessert forks, etc. Since I’m hosting this year, I’m doing it much more my way. Our fancy China is paper plates. I’m buying a paper tablecloth that can be colored on and I’m making ham instead of turkey. Because that’s what I like!” – Corinne

9) “We always listen to the Arlo Guthrie song, ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ at noon on Thanksgiving. It was something I grew up doing and always makes me think of my dad, who unfortunately passed away four years ago. Now that I have a 3 year old son, me and my husband still listen to it and use the time to talk about my dad with him. It’s bittersweet but a really nice tradition that I hope he learns to love too!” – Trisha

10) “We’re not American but we’ve lived in New York for five years. My first year here, I was pregnant and couldn’t stomach any kind of food, so we just went to Bubby’s for some Thanksgiving dinner. The next year, our 1.5 year-old son was brought to the hospital in an ambulance and my husband had to rush home from his business trip to Dubai, because our son had to have emergency surgery. Everything turned out fine. We were in the hospital for 10 days before being released on Thanksgiving Day. Only place that was open and could take us in was Bubby’s. That night (while bawling about how thankful we were that our son was okay) we promised each other that for as long as we were in New York, we would have Thanksgiving dinner at Bubby’s.” – Asvollerslev

11) “My cousin saw his mom taking the stuffing out of the turkey and asked if it was turkey poop. So now we all ask for a side of turkey poop every year.” – Michele

12) “One of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving growing up was the plays that my cousin would write for all the cousins to perform. In retrospect, they were terrible, but we thought they were great. My one cousin (the writer’s brother) would never say his lines right and would do anything but what he was supposed to do. He was then demoted to always being the turkey in the play. My family still laughs about our performances.” – Leah

13) “My dad’s family used to butcher the day after Thanksgiving. All seven brothers and their families were home, so we had the man power to process several hogs. Each family walked away with a year supply of pork. Only in Idaho.” – Carolyn

14) “My family has one tradition that is very special to my family: making our traditional Lithuanian stuffing. I was taught by my Dad who was taught by his dad and so on down from my Great Great Grandmother. It is predominantly made with boiled milk and saltine crackers with various vegetables and seasonings. This dish has not only held special memories with my own family, but it is something that connects us to our ancestors who immigrated here from Lithuania in the early 1900’s. I didn’t realize how unique this dish was until a fellow student in one of my grad classes was talking about the traditional stuffing they made with saltine crackers and I blurted out, “Are you Lithuanian?” She was! One simple dish and it has touched my life greatly.” – Roemerra

15) “When I was a kid growing up in NYC, we watched the parade live every year . My dad and I, along with my friend and her dad, would enter the Park on 85th street and walk down to where the parade started. We would bring a ladder, climb over the wall and into the stands on the park side. We always brought blankets and hot chocolate and always had the best seats.” – Liz

16) “We live in San Antonio, home of Lackland Air Force Base, which is the sole location of Air Force Basic Training. Every Thanksgiving, there are tens of thousands of airmen and women in training, so the Air Force started a program 40+ years ago called Operation Homecooking, where families can sign up to bring a pair of airmen to their home for Thanksgiving. My family has participated for about 5 years now, along with some close neighbors. (My dad is retired AF and did basic at LAFB 50 years ago.) We have a big joint celebration, each of our two families gets a pair of airmen-in-training, and they get to spend the holiday Skyping and calling their families and eating as much food as they can possibly manage. It’s often their first holiday away from their own families, and we love getting to do it. It’s our favorite family tradition.” – Sarah

17) “As kids, we loved olives and would always steal them from my grandmother while she was cooking. There is a natural ‘loop’ in her house, so we would go through the living room, office, bathroom, kitchen and repeat; quickly picking out the olives and popping them in our mouths as we looped through the kitchen. To put a stop to this, my grandma made a rule that the olives are always opened last, right when we sit down at the table. We have stuck to this rule ever since!” – Mollie

18) “About 20 years ago, my mom found an idea from Good Housekeeping to have everyone sign a white tablecloth at Thanksgiving where you are seated. Afterwards, she would embroider the names over the signature. Initially, she used a different color thread for each year, but has since run out of colors. Now, the tablecloth is full of names and memories. Some people only attended once or twice, while others were staples like my grandfather, who sat in the same spot for years and years, but is no longer with us. It has become such a family heirloom. I love seeing it each year!” – Bridget

19) “Our Thanksgiving tradition is to watch Planes, Trains & Automobiles at the end of the night. There aren’t many Thanksgiving-themed movies, but this one is hysterical and never fails to make my family laugh. Steve Martin’s character is just trying to make it home in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.” – Jessica

20) “All month, we write on our kitchen chalkboard what we are thankful for. The kids contributions usually start off with things like doughnuts and then get more and more meaningful as the month goes on.” – Leslie

21) “My great grandmother loved pecan pie, but I never saw her eat it. She would just take a pecan off the top every time she walked by it! She’s long gone and no one likes pecan pie anymore, but I still make it every Thanksgiving, just so I can pick the pecans off the top!” – Janissa

22) “My favorite Thanksgiving tradition actually started a few years ago on New Years Day. We had our extended family over for brunch and drank leftover champagne to nurse our hangovers from the night before. One of my cousins was at the hospital waiting to give birth to her first baby, so we sent her a video of everyone cheers-ing with glasses of champagne. From there, we started naming other exciting family accomplishments, both big and very small, and clinking glasses each time. We went through way more bottles of champagne than we intended that day. The following year, we knew we wouldn’t all be together for New Year’s again, so we decided to shift what we now call our annual “Champagne Night” to the day after Thanksgiving. It’s become a favorite tradition for all the cousins to get together to celebrate all the exciting moments from the past year. We celebrate new jobs, graduations, moving to new cities and other big moments. But we also celebrate things that are silly and much less important like someone getting their wisdom teeth removed. No matter the size of the accomplishment we say “cheers!” and sip champagne. We live all across the country so we don’t get to be there in person for most of these things. It’s become really special to take the time to catch up and celebrate it all.” – Allie

23) “We always do Thanksgiving as our own small unit (husband, wife, kids) and we do NOT travel to anyone nor do we host anyone else. It’s made the day very peaceful and special because it truly is our family holiday. Yes, we have upset in-laws and other extensions every year. But I recall hating Thanksgiving as a kid, and my kids do not hate it. We cook together, laugh together, watch movies, decorate the house. It’s awesome.” – Sara

24) “This has to remain anonymous, so I don’t get in trouble. Our tradition has become my mother-in-law serving a raw turkey. Three out of five Thanksgivings I’ve spent at her house, the turkey carving starts, only for her to realize that it is still raw inside. So then, we all eat the side dishes while the turkey goes back in the oven to finish cooking.” – Anonymous

25) “The night before Thanksgiving, as soon as the kids fall asleep, my husband and I blast music, drink, and make EVERY side dish for the following day. We laugh, cook, sing, and strategize for the dinner. It has become one of my favorite traditions and feels extra special that it’s just between us.” – Ash

26) “Sixty years ago, my dad, his brothers, and the brothers from down the street played a game of football on Thanksgiving morning. The tradition has continued all these years adding sons, daughters and grandkids! We meet at 9am at the high school football field and play with whoever shows up in ALL kinds of weather. It’s the best!” – Ackeyes

27) “When I was a kid, every year on Thanksgiving, we would write our list to Santa. My mom would make a fire in the fireplace and we would take turns throwing the list in. Either the list would burn and Santa would be able to read it as it did, or the draft would catch it and send it up the flue where it would fly to the North Pole. There was only one time that the list went up the flue, but we still talk about it. Now I do the same for my kids and they are always so excited to make a fire after dinner to send their list to Santa. As an adult, I now appreciate this as a brilliant way to curb the last minute wishes that can happen right before Christmas!” – Erin

28) “I put my daughter’s handprint on a table runner every Thanksgiving. She’s 6 now. This year, I get to add her handprint and her baby sister’s.” – Natalie

29) “My grandparents always had sauerkraut at Thanksgiving. They were the only ones who ate it. My grandpa died in 1982, we still had sauerkraut. My grandma died in 1997. We still have sauerkraut. It’s not Thanksgiving with the sauerkraut.” – Ann

30) “My mother and I get together the day before Thanksgiving and do all the baking. Even when we are going to separate Thanksgiving dinners. It’s fun to bake together and spend time together. She’s in her 80’s now and I know our time to share this tradition is limited, which makes it especially sweet!” – Deb

31) “One of my favorite traditions started after my husband and I got together. His high school buddies have all since moved away from their hometown after graduation. But every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, after all the family dinners have taken place, his buddies’ and their families (the number of guests have increased every year) come over to our house for chili and board games. Our house gets flipped upside down with all the kids running around and it takes all weekend to clean up from the gathering, but it continues to be my favorite Thanksgiving tradition. Family isn’t always blood.” – Kacie

32) “This is a weird one. When my mom was in her 20’s, her older sisters and their spouses started a weird tradition of hiding the turkey carcass, either somewhere in the host’s house or with a guest to take home somehow. It got to the point that everyone became super vigilant about their surroundings every holiday. More creative ways of hiding ensued and it actually became an honor if it was hidden with you. Years later, everyone moved away and this hadn’t happened in a long time. Then my mom decided to resurrect the tradition and mailed it to family in Florida. So now you have to look at suspicious packages arriving around the holidays from family.” – Dana

33) “Everyone who comes to our Thanksgiving dinner has to write one thing that they’re thankful for on a little piece of paper. The thankful notes all get tossed into a hat. Then when dinner is ready, someone reaches into the hat and reads someone else’s note aloud. We serve dinner buffet style, so after the person reads the note, they get to go up to the buffet to fill their plate. The person whose note they read gets to pick a note to read next. This goes on until everyone has their plates. It’s a nice, funny, sometimes tearful tradition, and the buffet line never gets too crowded.” – Lailani

34) “I grew up in Miami and one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions was having a water balloon fight after Thanksgiving dinner. We couldn’t do it immediately after dinner was over because of our food comas, but once everyone was revived, it was game on!” – Adriana

35) “I’m the youngest of four kids, and as the years went on and we started having families of our own, my mom got tired of bearing the brunt of the preparations, so she told us that she was gonna make the turkey and we were responsible for the rest. Being a competitive bunch, we started the Thanksgiving Side Dish Competition! Everyone picks a category (appetizer, potatoes, dessert, etc) and we vote at the end of the meal. The top three get a prize at the end and bragging rights for the rest of the year.” – Claire

36) “Years ago, my sister asked me what we could do to get my picky eater kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner. I said that I didn’t know because my kids will only eat food if it’s in a tortilla. And that is how the Thanksgiving burrito was born.” – Nancy

What’s your favorite Thanksigiving tradition?