Thanksgiving Traditions

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By Cindy Edwards

Thanksgiving is a wonderful American holiday created to acknowledge the many blessings that the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared many years ago. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday, to be held the fourth Thursday of November. Nearly 150 years later, families still celebrate Thanksgiving much the same way as the Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated their harvest feast in the year 1621: with family, friends and grateful hearts.

Our family, like many, continues to prepare and share the same recipes year after year. Turkey, dressing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and sweet potato souffle are all a huge part of our large, delicious dinner.

Traditions are not limited to food. My mother-in-law always provides a basket with blank cards, which is passed around when we arrive for dinner. Each person in attendance must write down a special Thanksgiving blessing.  She collects all the cards and reads them at the end of the meal.  We have a good time trying to guess who wrote each one.  It is a special tradition that we have all come to treasure. 

I enjoy the many preparations that go into our Thanksgiving meal.  It is particularly exciting to set my table, and I begin days in advance.  This year I will be making a special favor for each guest.  “Perfectly Proper Pinecone Turkeys” will really dress up each place setting.  They are inexpensive and easy to make.

Perfectly Proper Pinecone Turkeys

You will need:

8 perfectly proportioned pinecones
40 to 50 small feathers in your favorite colors
8 brown pipe cleaners
glue gun

1. Stagger the feathers by size and color in the back of the pinecone to create the turkey’s tail feathers.  When you are pleased with your selections, simply use the glue gun to secure them in place.
2. Use the brown pipe cleaners to make the turkey’s head and neck.  You can be creative and shape it like he has a wattle.  Secure the pipe cleaner by twisting it around one of the pinecone pods.
3. Place each turkey in the middle of your place setting to greet your hungry and happy guests.

My Grandmother Bradley is one of the best cooks to ever come out of Evans County, Georgia.  Her sweet potato soufflé is the perfect blend of sweet potatoes, butter and sugar. I hope that you enjoy this favorite that has been around for many years.

Sweet Potato Souffle

3 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup marshmallows, optional
1/2 cup raisins, optional

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted

Mix sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, milk, salt, butter and vanilla with a mixer. If using, add marshmallows and raisins and mix by hand.  Pour into buttered dish.  Mix all topping ingredients together and spread over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

It is never too late to start your own family traditions.  Whether it is a favorite recipe or a game that you play every year around the table, traditions have a way of uniting us. I wish you and your family a very blessed Thanksgiving holiday.  May it be filled with love and gratitude for family and friends. 

As always, thanks for reading.

Properly yours,

Cindy Edwards embodies everything pretty, perky and proper about the South. She's a wife, mother, volunteer and freelance writer. Cindy volunteers enough hours to exhaust most by serving on the Board of Trustees for the Telfair Museums, the Savannah Book Festival Board of Directors and the University of Georgia Honors Advisory Board. She has also served on the Boards of the March of Dimes and Young Life Savannah. Cindy has been married to her college sweetheart, Dr. Joe Edwards III, for 25 years and is the proud mother of two sons: Joe IV, a senior at the University of Georgia, and Jack, a freshman at Ole Miss. No matter how busy, Cindy always makes time for a competitive game of bridge.
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Reader Comments:


My niece, Christi, just turned me onto your blog!! Love it. I look forward to reading your past and present entries!!

By Angie Staiti on July 21, 2013


Beautiful place setting!!!! And excellent recipe!! Thank you for all your great ideas and visuals. Yes, we all have so much to be thankful for.

By Sandra on November 28, 2012


For years I have used pinecones for placecard holders for our Thanksgiving meal. I love the idea of remembering what we are thankful for. This year we have a new grandson to be so, so thankful for! Thanks for your Grandmother Bradley's recipe. . .mine is much like that and delicious! I can only imagine what a great cook your grandmother is.

By Viki Curtis on November 27, 2012


Great ideas. I especially like passing around blank cards and all write a Thanksgiving blessing. The sweet potato souffle sounds delicious. I'll keep this receipe for sure!

By Linda Parton on November 26, 2012


The pinecone turkeys really make the table look traditional and festive for the holidays. The sweet potato souffle was delicious. Thanks for sharing this information and this recipe. I always enjoy this blog!!

By Ann on November 25, 2012


Love the little turkey, Cindy. 'Simple craft idea that looks so classy.

By Angela Lopez on November 20, 2012

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
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