Author Arlene James Shares her Thanksgiving Traditions

by Arlene James, author of “The Cowboy’s Christmas Gift” in Yuletide Cowboys

My granddaughters love to dress the table. They love knowing that they are using their great-grandmother’s china and that the table linens were handmade. They want the charger plates out and the linen napkins. They actually come over early in the week to decide which linens we will use this year. They don’t remember my mother and never knew my grandmother, but using their things give my grandchildren a sense of continuity within the family.

arlene james thanksgiving traditionsWe print a pretty menu and put it up on the refrigerator with magnets. Everyone has a favorite on the menu, and they all get their requests in early. They either let me know what they are bringing or ask me to make something special for them.

The one tradition we will not skip is the Thankfulness List. Everyone around the table has to name at least one thing for which they are thankful. We often have guests join us, and they are occasionally taken aback by this ritual of ours. We don’t pressure them to join in, but no one has ever refused. They don’t always join us when we pray (and we always do), but they always find something about which to be thankful.

I’m honestly not sure whether my children and grandchildren most look forward to the turkey dinner or the turkey potpie made from the leftovers that is sure to follow. They frequently admonish each other to “leave enough for the potpie, or Dad will know who to blame.” Ha!

On Thanksgiving evening, we decorate the Christmas tree. We started this tradition when our oldest first went off to college and realized on Thanksgiving break that she wouldn’t be around when the tree went up that year. Now, even though our family have all left our home, the tree goes up on Thanksgiving night every year. It saves me from having to do it all myself and keeps an old tradition alive for us. The children are grown and gone, but they still take a hand in decorating the tree. I hope they always will.

What are your holiday family traditions?

About Yuletide Cowboys:

The Cowboy’s Yuletide Reunion by Deb Kastner

When Sarah Kendrick meets her high school sweetheart again, she’s ashamed to show Marcus Ender how far she’s fallen. But when they’re snowed in on her ranch, and he returns holiday joy to her family, Sarah could have a merry Christmas…if she’ll say yes.

The Cowboy’s Christmas Gift by Arlene James

An injury forces rodeo rider Matt Ender home to his family’s ranch—where he clashes with his grandmother’s pretty business partner.

Former cowgirl Neely Spence has no time for love. Can they open their hearts and find family this Christmas?

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Comments ( 27 )
  1. Jennifer Hibdon
    November 22, 2015 at 7:49 am

    I enjoyed learning of your traditions. My girks like th dress the table. It is so good to share family history and lore through out the year’s holidays and normal activities.

    • Ginger Jones
      November 27, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Isn’t it just? Sharing history about ourselves gives our children a real sense of belonging.

  2. Jenny
    November 26, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    One tradition we started, among the ladies of the family. Taking into consideration we are Canadian and our Thanksgiving is during the guy’s time away hunting most every year. We have a lunch apart from the traditional dinner, this has all of us bring a dish that we have been wanting to try ( that our husbands would not like or do not eat because of food sensitivities). It is a fun day and all sorts of weird things make their way to the table.

    • Ginger Jones
      November 27, 2015 at 11:05 am

      You ladies are doing it right! I remember my mother and her friends having card club every month and hearing the stories of the other hostesses serving tables and the week long preparation when it was my mother’s turn to host.

  3. Tammy
    November 26, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Traditions are wonderful. I have noticed over the years mine have changed. As family members age things have to change. Hope all enjoy the thanksgiving day

    • Ginger Jones
      November 27, 2015 at 11:08 am

      We enjoyed ourselves immensely, hope you did as well. It’s interesting times as our relatives age.

  4. Elaine
    November 26, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    I love spending time with my family:)

    • Ginger Jones
      November 27, 2015 at 11:09 am

      Me too!

    • Teresa
      November 28, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      that’s the best part of thanksgiving

    • aleja
      November 30, 2015 at 10:25 am

      Family & food the best

  5. Deb Simmering
    November 26, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Are traditions are everyone says what they are thankful for, and then we say a prayer and thank God for all that we have and we pray for our soldier’s and their families and for our homeless.

    • Ginger Jones
      November 27, 2015 at 11:12 am

      Your prayers sound heartfelt and are most decidedly welcome. Including the homeless in your prayers , well, that is just a whole other level of loveliness. Thank you. You have brightened my day.

  6. Patricia Kovach
    November 26, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    I LOVE Arlene James’s books and I really enjoyed reading about her Holiday traditions! Will be looking for her next books!

    • Ginger Jones
      November 27, 2015 at 11:15 am

      I know, right? You can really see why here books pop to life!

  7. Kathleen O
    November 27, 2015 at 7:13 am

    We gave Thanksgiving in October in Canada, so we are gearing up for the Christmas season. One of the traditions we have had for a long time is playing Trivial Pursuit on Christmas Eve. Some of those games have lasted until the wee hours of the morning.

    • Ginger Jones
      November 27, 2015 at 11:18 am

      The board games. Oh, my, it is usually the only time of year they see the light of day. Unless, of course, it is raining at the beach.

  8. darlene deveau
    November 27, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Traditions are what are passed along from generation to generation and as we grow old it is wonderful to see some of the fun ones!

    • Ginger Jones
      November 27, 2015 at 11:19 am

      Agreed !

  9. Lynne Bradley
    November 27, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I love having my family together for the holidays.

    • Ginger Jones
      November 27, 2015 at 11:20 am

      It is the best part.

  10. Ginger Jones
    November 27, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Leftovers are an excellent part of Thanksgiving. Must have the Swiss cheese, rye and pumpernickel on hand for Friday lunch. I love how you allow the traditions to evolve, making sure your college aged daughter will experience the joy, really, of raising the Christmas tree. Thank you for the glimpse into your family’s traditions.

  11. Dianne Duff
    November 27, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Loved your practice of decorating the tree after eating Thanksgiving dinner. Great tradition. We can’t really do that in Canada our holiday is too early.

  12. Patricia
    November 28, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Sharing is all what is the holidays is about….whether it be with friends, family or other people. Even volunteering during the holidays is a time for getting together and making a difference in our lives.

  13. Jamita Gilleylen
    November 28, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    I love holiday traditions. We go around the table and say what we are thankful for.

  14. E.J Robinson
    November 29, 2015 at 12:23 am

    I agree with the lovely idea of going round the table and each person has to think of something they are thankful for. I do much the same only I grab a small tree branch from outside and place it in a pot in the centre of the table and cut out blank paper leaves. Then I put the leaves in a bowl next to the tree and my guest write down on a leaf what they are grateful for and hang the leaf on the tree branch. Many this year, in the small town I was in, thought I was crazy for even having a thanksgiving dinner. I just couldn’t understand them. It’s the most universal and easiest to understand holiday ever, you don’t actually have to be religious to celebrate it and I was sadly met with a lot of flack for having my dinner but I wouldn’t let them get in my way. It was there loss. It was a lovely dinner and those of my friends who did come made it all the more special.

  15. Judy Pina
    November 29, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    We always spend family time together and say what we are thankful for.

  16. Alicia Day
    November 30, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Always have turkey and dressing.

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