Ditching the Turkey and Cranberry Sauce; Thanksgiving Traditions Falling by the Wayside

Most Americans’ typical Thanksgiving Day ritual includes a parade trip, watching football, and overindulging in a family feast.

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Holiday Tradition NNPA

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The Thanksgiving dinner table will look a little different this year in the home of Troy Portillo.

“I plan not to get a turkey this Thanksgiving, as I have transitioned to a pescatarian diet since this spring,” said Portillo, the director of operations for the online learning platform, Studypool.

Muhammad Awwad also plans to do something different this year.
“A few years ago, my family and I came to terms with our boredom with traditional Thanksgiving food such as turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and green beans,” said Awwad, a magazine editor.

“We decided to choose a different nationality each year, say Italian or Chinese, and each pick a dish from that nation’s culinary tradition to make for Thanksgiving dinner. I plan to keep this tradition of exploring different types of cuisines until I get a craving for regular Thanksgiving food, which – to be honest – may be never.”

Most Americans’ typical Thanksgiving Day ritual includes a parade trip, watching football, and overindulging in a family feast.

But many are straying from the norms in 2022. And the reasons vary.
“While it may be dismaying not to see a big turkey on the table, I am excited about the alternatives,” Portillo exclaimed.

“We are going to create more veggies, incorporate a plant-based protein dish, and have miraculous pies to melt into after the feast. I am looking forward to it and may not ever buy a turkey again. It is so much work.”

Irene Graham, the co-founder of Spylix, said she’s dumping the tradition of talking politics at the dinner table.

“Politics is where opinions are subjective, a sore subject that can easily turn the tables most unfavorably,” Graham reasoned.

“Once the drama is started, it would take time for it to reach its destiny. We have had a handful of such conversations in the past years, which always created a commotion. So, we have decided to drop the idea of jumping into politics. Instead, we have decided to talk about celebrities, spice the talks up by adding humor, and so on.”

For some, however, certain traditions are worthy of remaining a part of the celebration.
“The Thanksgiving tradition I’m keeping this year is food, including stuffing, potatoes, pie, and gravy,” insisted Dr. Victoria Glass of the Farr Institute.

Still, Glass said she’s determined to skip her annual ritual of watching classic movies and college football.

Thanksgiving can be complicated for some like Bilphena Yahwon, an independent archivist in Baltimore who originally hails from Liberia.
In an earlier interview, Yahwon said the holiday provides an opportunity to celebrate and engage in the food and be reminded once again of festivities of her culture.

“On the other hand, I know a lot of Liberians see Thanksgiving as a way to celebrate freedom, and even then I question it because it is like, ‘You wasn’t free. We still ain’t free.’”
In an Ebony essay, Vann Newkirk recalled that, at 19, he tried to boycott Thanksgiving as he “entered that necessary but annoying phase of young self-righteous and half-informed quasi-pro-Blackness.”

“The love that Black people have for the Thanksgiving holiday would seem to fly in the face of our shared history with American Indians, which is defined greatly by oppression at the hands of the white majority,” Newkirk wrote.

“The holiday’s special place in the Black familial and religious tradition, however, is full of the same contradictions of pain and joy, stark awareness and carefree celebration as are all our traditions.”

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