Thanksgiving offers a great opportunity to pass traditions onto your family that can make them understand why this holiday is not only uniquely American — but uniquely important as well.  Here are eight traditions you can pass along during the Thanksgiving break.

  1. Cook a turkey and all its trimmings. Turkeys have been a part of Thanksgiving dating back centuries. Of course there are regional twists that offer variations on the traditional roasted bird — coffee rubbed turkey in Hawaii, salt encrusted turkey in New England, and deep-fried turkey in the South.  Whether you go traditional or your own, the decision is up to you.
  2. Make a wish. Does your family fight over the wishbone from the Thanksgiving turkey? The tradition of tugging on either end of the fowl’s bone, known as a “lucky break,” dates back to Ancient Rome. The Romans brought the tradition with them when they conquered England and it was the English colonists that carried the tradition on to America.
  3. Watch the Lions, Cowboys and Bears — oh my! Throughout the U.S., football on Thanksgiving Day is as much a part of the celebration as turkey and pumpkin pie. Dating back to the first intercollegiate football championship on Thanksgiving Day in 1876, the day affords the time and relaxation to debate team loyalties, break down the playoff races and decide the best time to take a nap.
  4. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Watching this parade on Thanksgiving Day morning has become an annual tradition in many American families since 1924. With the turkey roasting in the oven, even mom can join in to watch all the marching bands, floats, songs and giant helium-filled balloons.
  5. Enjoy diving into a leaf pile. What better way to trick your entire family into doing a loathsome chore? Challenge them to piling up as much leaves that they can muster in the front yard — and then dive into it. Throwing leaves at each other and seeing how deep you can get buried can also burn off some Thanksgiving meal calories. When you’re done, your yard won’t be any worse than when you started.
  6. Run in a turkey trot. It’s great exercise and you don’t have to feel as guilty about all the turkey you’ll eat later that day. Plus, it’s for a good cause (as the proceeds usually go to local charities).
  7. Deliver a Thanksgiving meal to a family in need. Express your gratitude by giving back to the community. Adopt a less-fortunate family in your area, buy them a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and deliver it to their home.
  8. Give thanks. Last, but certainly not least, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the people and blessings of the past year. So before you eat your Thanksgiving meal, whether through a blessing, saying grace or a Thanksgiving show-and-tell — ask everyone what they are thankful for. You may be surprised what you hear.