5 Traditions to Start On Thanksgiving That Have Nothing To Do With Food

Today, I want to share with you five traditions you can start this Thanksgiving that have nothing to do with food. Not only are these activities great for other T1D families to enjoy, but they're simple enough that anyone can incorporate them into their Thanksgiving celebrations! At the end of the post, you'll also be able to download a free pdf for future reference.

Who else is excited that Thanksgiving is right around the corner!? In less than a week, we’ll finally come upon the ONE day of the year where we can eat, nap, then eat again… and no one will judge us! Thanksgiving is one of our family’s favorite holidays for several reasons, but let’s be real… it’s all about the food for me so I’m always excited to celebrate it.

Living with someone that has Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), though, means that celebrating Thanksgiving can be extra tricky because there IS so much emphasis on food. Max loves to eat, and his little tween body is demanding more calories than ever before. That’s the perfect recipe for his blood sugar to skyrocket and land him in the hospital if he goes into DKA. DKA stands for “diabetic ketoacidosis” and is a life-threatening condition that can lead to death. You can read more about it on the American Diabetes Association (ADA) website here. We definitely don’t want that to happen, so we have to think beyond food.

In a silver lining sort of way, that really helps us keep the focus on what’s important on Thanksgiving: spending time with loved ones and giving thanks for all the amazing gifts we’ve been given. After all, that’s what we want Max to remember about Thanksgiving later on, when he’s celebrating in his own house, with his own family, long after his dad and I are gone. By making sure we’re spending time with the people that are most important to us – away from the dinner table – we also reinforce the bonds between us, becoming ever closer. Thanksgiving is a special holiday where we can highlight the special ways they make our lives better, and we don’t want to squander that opportunity. Life is short and we may not be around next year. We have to make the most of today.

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So if you’d like to start a new tradition this year, one where the turkey isn’t the center of attention, then try these suggestions:

1. Play A Game of “Turkey Cup”

In our house, we like to play a friendly game of soccer first thing in the morning that we’ve come to call the “Turkey Cup”. It’s usually the adults against kids – so fun!  The game doesn’t have to be soccer as long as you’re creating memories together while working up an appetite!

2. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

There’s something special about being able to help feed others before you dig in to your own turkey at home. So many people need our help, and to see how happy and grateful they are to be remembered will make your own Thanksgiving spread feel like even more of a feast.

3. Take a Walk at Sunrise

When we lived in Kailua, I once went on a sunrise beach walk with a group of girlfriends that had been following this tradition for years. It was their way to connect with each other on Thanksgiving day since many of them wouldn’t be having Thanksgiving dinner together.

4. Have a Pajama Contest

We love to be comfortable on Thanksgiving. If I’m hosting, I let everyone know to come in their pajamas. It’s the ultimate in comfortable attire, don’t you think? To make it a memorable tradition, have a contest and award a prize for the most creative or fun pajamas!

5. Put on a Thanksgiving Skit

This one is usually a hit with the kids, and the adults can join in too. It’s hilarious to hear how the meaning of Thanksgiving is interpreted by our children. It’s also a great opportunity to get everyone on film for far-away friends and relatives to enjoy via social media.

Free PDF download of list: 5 Traditions To Start On Thanksgiving That Have Nothing To Do With Food

Do you or your family celebrate with any non-food activities on Thanksgiving? If so, I’d love it if you’d share them with me in a comment below. It’d be so cool if one of our new traditions came from a Casa Speed blog reader, don’t you think!?

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“Tradition is not to preserve the ashes, but to pass on the flame.”
– Gustav Mahler

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4 Comments
  • sue
    November 18, 2018

    Love this – positive vibes for the holidays & I really like your attitude towards the traditions you would like to instil in your son. In the UK we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but in terms of our big holiday at Christmas, I love these ideas. My memories of family Xmases in the past have been about spending time together & I think these ideas are all based on this concept too – playing games & enjoying each others company. It’s precious! Great positive post, thanks for sharing!

    • Casa Speed
      November 19, 2018

      Sue, thank you so much for your awesome comment! As parents, it’s so important to give your children a link back to their childhood. For me, those links hold comfort and safety, and sometimes even confidence. Traditions are important links… I know they make me feel happy and grateful. Hopefully he’ll feel the same when he’s older.

  • Lindsey
    November 19, 2018

    Love this! What fun ideas for Thanksgiving! I love the sounds of Turkey cup – that would be fun. I love the sounds of a PJ contest too! We won’t be having a proper Thanksgiving in Russia this year – but I’ll keep these in mind for Christmas! I’m sure my family would love a PJ contest too. 🙂

    • Casa Speed
      November 20, 2018

      Turkey Cup is our favorite! We usually lose, but the kids love to beat us fair and square. Pajamas are definitely the way to go. Anything to make the holidays more fun!

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5 Traditions to Start On Thanksgiving That Have Nothing To Do With Food