From exotic travels to traditional meals with friends and family, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving in a variety of unique ways. Read on to learn about some special holiday traditions held by EI fans and family around the country and be sure to share your unique family tradition in the comments below!
Embracing New Traditions
Jessie, Nick, and Hunter Min
Jessie moved from Korea to the United States as a young child and her family immediately embraced the Thanksgiving tradition, celebrating with classic turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, plus the traditional Korean side dish of kimchi. When Jessie married her husband, Nick, also a native Korean, the two families blended their traditional American Thanksgiving celebrations. Now the extended Min family trades off hosting the holiday meal, which includes both sets of parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, and, most recently, the addition of Jessie and Nick’s daughter, Hunter.
Two-year-old Hunter loves being surrounded by family and Jessie hopes someday Hunter will come to see Thanksgiving as a day to be thankful for all of the love she has in her life. As for Jessie, she’ll spend this holiday appreciating the people she loves, toasting her family’s good health, and decorating the family Christmas tree!
- Favorite holiday side dish? Cheesy corn—her sister-in-law makes the best!
- Pumpkin or apple? Jessie is pumpkin all the way—nothing says fall like pumpkin pie!
- What do you love most about your family?That we’re always here for each other, no matter what.
Twice the Holiday Fun
Alec Mapa, Jamison Hebert, Zion Hebert-Mapa
A showbiz family, actor and father Alec can be seen on TV shows like Switched at Birth, Devious Maids, Jane the Virgin, and his own Showtime Special, Alec Mapa: Baby Daddy. His husband, Jamison, prefers to work behind the scenes, as an independent film producer, creating such documentaries as The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Bullied and MSNBC’s Erasing Hate. This red carpet couple completed their family five years ago with the adoption of their adorable son, Zion.
Entertainers by nature, the Hebert-Mapas go big for the holidays with two seasonal get togethers—one Christmas, the other Chanukah—so that they can celebrate with friends of all faiths. Now in 5th grade, Zion is just as social as his dazzling dads, so he greets and gabs with the guests while his dads get the goodies on the table. Although the hands-down hit of these parties is the authentic, home-made latkes (served with sour cream and applesauce), Zion’s favorite dish is always a sweet dessert.
- What do you do with leftovers? POT PIE!!! Or sandwiches! But mostly pot pie. Comfort food is best in the winter.
- What do you love most about your family? I love that we all look nothing alike, but none of that has ever mattered. Love is what brought us all together and love is what makes us a family. It’s corny, but at the end of the day, love is what defines family
Friendly Family Competition
Chris, Jen, Hayden, and Sawyer Truby
That pile of gifts at Chris’ holiday get-togethers might not be what you think! First introduced by Chris’ grandmother to entertain the kids and moms while the dads watched football after Thanksgiving dinner, Chris’ family has been playing “The Dice Game” for more than 40 years. It’s a tradition he remembers and loved as a little boy and now he’s passing it on to his own children. The rules are simple, but the game play is intense!Everyone contributes a wrapped white elephant gift to the pile. Players take turns rolling the dice—roll doubles and you can take a gift from the pile, but don’t be fooled! That awesome-looking gift is as likely to be a can opener or piece of wood as it is something stellar! Don’t score a gift? Don’t worry! You’ll get a chance to steal gifts from other players by rolling doubles in a timed lightening round. Not everyone wins, but no one cares—the fun is in the frantic, fast-paced game play.
Over the years, the competition—and the gifts!—have gotten so epic that the entire family, including two sets of grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, as well as Chris, his wife Jen, and their two sons, Hayden and Sawyer, drops everything when the dice hit the table. Chris’ kids love the crazy gifts; Chris loves that he can share a treasured tradition from his own childhood with his family. He says “The dice game is a fun family tradition that always makes Thanksgiving special!”
- Canned cranberry or fresh? Canned- preferred if it’s still in the shape of the can with the lines around it.
- What do you love most about your family?Being accepting and comfortable in our own uniqueness.
- What does Thanksgiving mean to you? A day to relax and spend time with family