An Alternate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. That time of year when you awkwardly sit around the table with the family you barely speak to and get grilled on what is happening with your life. Thanksgiving's also the time you spend with your family and give thanks for all the blessings you have had this year. For most people, Thanksgiving is a combination of these two things: a holiday and day of thanks and an awkward time with family. My family has always done a classic Publix commercial style Thanksgiving (Please watch here). When I was young, Thanksgiving was always a large production: buffet style with all the classic American fixins’ like mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and canned cranberry sauce (which is better than homemade, do not @ me, my dad grew up on a cranberry bog and he will attest to this).

My family did the “classic” Americano Thanksgiving for years, but then life happened. My cousins left for college and moved away so my aunt and uncle started going to them. My other uncle started dating again and he started going to his girlfriend’s Thanksgivings. Eventually it became my parents, my brother, my grandmother and I. Then, unfortunately, my grandmother passed away and quite frankly, Thanksgiving got really depressing. Luckily, the Stapletons are problem-solvers. So we started a new tradition. Instead of having the large, traditional dinner, we go somewhere. So far, we have done Universal Studios, SeaWorld and hopefully soon, Disney. For me, Thanksgiving is hard and it reminds me of my grandmother. So these days that I spend with my family at an amusement park help to: 1. Bond me with my family and 2. Help to keep the holiday special. 

One of my favorite memories was when my family went to Universal to see the new Harry Potter world. For a while on Thanksgiving, my family would watch the latest Harry Potter movie after we ate dinner. It was a full circle moment. Also, my parents, little brother and I are huge Harry Potter nerds so it was a magical (pun intended) moment. We got to go to both parks and see both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Fact for you, the parks are usually less packed because if people are going to go for a holiday, it's usually Christmas or Halloween. We got to ride the “Race Through Gringotts” ride twice in a row because it was empty. We tried butterbeer (liquid is better than frozen, fight me). We also explored other parts of the park, saw the Blue Man group and saw the fear factor show. 

There are a lot of different ways to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. Some people use it as a day of service and some people use it as a way to celebrate family. Thanksgiving is unique in that the only really source of commonality is a big meal and watching a parade on TV. The holiday is also unique, in that it is only celebrated in America (on that date, looking at you Canada). I like how unique the holiday is and how there are all different WAYS to celebrate the holiday, not just different traditions but different forms and practices. I know a lot of people enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving or the day-of-service Thanksgiving, but I like the quirky tradition that my family has adopted and how it fits my family perfectly. Every family is different and every family celebrates, if they celebrate it at all, but going to an amusement park works for me and works for my family, just like I hope your Thanksgiving traditions work for your family.