5 completely nontraditional thanksgiving traditions

Thanksgiving Sides Recipes: Vegetarian Stuffing and Potatoes

So I’ll be honest. My family never got into the Thanksgiving feast thing.

But if you are from an immigrant family, you totally know what I mean.

We are a first generation South Asian family and our turkey day traditions were untraditional to say the least…

Mostly I learned about American ways of celebrating it at school and at my friends homes where I was able to gobble up mac and cheese, string bean casserole and good ol’ mashed potatoes, (my veggie self never got into the turkey).

Nowadays, I’ve found myself making pumpkin pie, amongst other common dishes for our potluck Thanksgiving parties with friends…but of course with a twist of extra cinnamon and fragranced with cardamom, reminding me of flavors that felt traditional…to me.

But even if my parents didn’t do Thanksgiving the American way, we always, always filled the room with family love and gratitude.


Here’s 5 unique ways we celebrated…

  1. Ethnic menu items: Part of what I love about America is that it’s a melting pot. One year, I brought homemade potato and cauliflower filled samosas to a friend’s house as a side dish and they were a huge hit! At home, my mom would make savory indian treats like my Gujarati fave pani puri, (I totally need to put that recipe up here if you have never tried it, so watch out for it), or her famous indian-spiced stuffed pizza, (I can’t put that recipe up since my mom is the only one that can make it that good!), since really it’s about enjoying home cookin’ with fam. Just like my hints of cardamom in pumpkin pie, or if someone makes wasabi mashed potatoes for Japanese flair, it’s nice to change things up and add something from your heritage to a traditional recipe. That surely would make it feel like comfort food for anyone.
  2. Go to the movies: Watching movies is especially fun when the theater isn’t full! My cousins and I would head to the theater Thanksgiving afternoon before dinner and loved it!
  3. Mantras: I know this sounds so weird. But in the spirit of gratitude, since all of our family was together anyway, before stuffing our faces, we would sometimes sit together and chant mantras. You can even meditate or take a moment to reflect on your abundance, whatever it means for you, it’s a great day to raise your vibration.
  4. Organize: Most people went shopping the next day on black Friday. My mom, in true Indian fashion, put us kids to work! Before buying anything new for ourselves or the home, she had is clear things out. Go through clothes in our closets, clean the clutter in the hall closet, organize the kitchen. It’s a good way to stay active the next day after eating so much food plus puts things in perspective for what you really need to buy during all those enticing sales.
  5. Volunteer: I remember one year I volunteered at a soup kitchen with friends. Since Thanksgiving wasn’t this huge traditional event for us, it felt good helping others who needed it most. Plus, as a kid, it really put things in perspective when it came to food. Most people find themselves over-eating on this day, and some do not even have enough for a whole meal. It’s a great lesson for kids to understand the importance of giving and feeling grateful for what they have if you can volunteer as a family.

What are some different ways you celebrate this holiday? Would love to hear below!


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