Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season as a time to carve the turkey, watch football with the family and unbutton those pants! More Americans in the US celebrate Thanksgiving than do Christmas and it is known as "America's Favorite Holiday!"

We love traditions at the Life Chest and wanted to share with you some of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions, the ones that are passed down for generations, some old, some new and some you may not even know!

The Feast

The holiday feast dates back to November 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth for an autumn harvest celebration, an event regarded as America's “first Thanksgiving.” History Channel

Family Favorites:

Turkey: and/or ham, goose and duck or even turduken (a combo of three whole birds)

Check out this seriously incredible Turduken Recipe from Serious Eats.


(Turduken Photo by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt)

Stuffing: a mix of cubed bread, chopped celery, carrots, onions and sage which is stuffed inside a turkey for roasting. Sometimes included are Chestnuts, chopped bacon, or raisins and apples.

Pies: pumpkin pies are the most popular, but apple, apple, pecan or mincemeat pies are also favored.

The Parade

After a long day of cooking, gathering with family and stuffing yourself another tradition is to sit down and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! This tradition started in 1924 when a group of Macy's employees dressed up as clowns and jugglers and formed a parade that attracted over 250,000 spectators. After this the store decided to make the parade a yearly thing, adding the famous first balloon, Felix the Cat in 1927 and then Mickey Mouse in 1934.

Felix the cat Thanksgiving Parade

The Big Game

The great American pig skin tradition of watching football on Thanksgiving has roots that date back to the great depression. After the Portsmouth Spartans were moved to Detroit, in 1934 the teams owners hosted a match between the newly named Lions and the world champion Chicago Bears to draw in football fans. The game sold out two weeks in advance and even though the Lions lost a tradition was born! For more on the First Thanksgiving Day Football Game in Detroit, 1934 click here!

The Turkey Pardon

The turkey pardon should not be overlooked! 

Every year, the president frees one lucky turkey while millions of its brethren are consigned to the dinner table. Though turkey farmers have been sending presidents the choicest birds since the 1800s, President John F. Kennedy was the first one on record to spare a turkey. In 1963, he sent back a turkey mailed by the National Turkey Federation, saying, "We'll just let this one grow." President Richard Nixon sent turkeys to a Washington, D.C., petting farm but didn't officially pardon them, according to the White House Blog. President George H.W. Bush gave the first official pardon to a turkey in 1989. The survivor lived out its days at a Virginia petting zoo called Frying Pan Park. 8 Terrific Turkey Facts

The Life Chest Tradition

Last year after Thanksgiving someone shared an incredible story of their Life Chest Moment:

A week before Thanksgiving I asked my friends and family to bring one memorable and tangible piece of their year with them to our dinner party. I didn't tell them why, I just asked them to make sure that's the one thing they brought. About twenty-five of us, young and old, gathered in the late afternoon and spent a day relaxing, cooking and cheering on our favorite team. After dinner and over drinks and dessert I brought everyone to the living room where we have been keeping our Life Chest, since receiving it last Christmas. 

"Beautiful!" "Breathtaking!" "But was is it?" they all asked. I then shared the story of our Life Chest, from when my husband surprised us with it, as a gift to the whole family last year to what it truly means to have one special place where all of our memories are stored safely to go through together. Inside I showed them my mother's veil she had passed down to me, which I also wore on our wedding day, my sons first football trophy, my daughters most worn pair of dance shoes and our dog Bee's collar tag (he had passed on last year.) 

After going through our memories I asked everyone to go around and talk about what they had brought to the party, to tell their story, and to share their most cherished memory from that past year. There were tears shed, laughs shared and by the end of the night we all had a better idea of who each of us were deep down. I love my Life Chest and I think that night I saw a few of my friends find value in treasuring those small mementos from memorable life events, and revisiting them for years to come.

Giving Thanks: Agata Wysokinski

Thanksgiving is a time to cherish and reflect on the wonderful memories you were a part of this year; the friends you made, the way’s you’ve grown and the obstacles you overcame with the help of those you love.

One fond memory from this year was meeting Glenda MacPhail at Friesens.

I travelled to Altona Manitoba this year with Life Chest CEO Donna Yost to help her with the design of her new book, Pumptitude: My Journey from CEO Wife to CEO Life. We were also working on the final layout of her husband CEO Kim Yost’s 4th Book, The Life Chest.

Customer Service Representative Glenda MacPhail was waiting for us when we arrived in Winnipeg, her warm smile and positive nature was the first thing to hook me in, its funny how some people just make you instantly feel comfortable.

It happened to be Glenda’s birthday so the three of us went for a beautiful dinner at the the 529 Wellington, we chatted as if we were old friends and I learned that Glenda was a mother of two who absolutely adored her family. We laughed all night and later Glenda drove us to where we would be staying for the next few nights in Altona.

Working with Glenda over the next few days was a blast, the print world has always fascinated me and what I learned from her and the team at Friesens was both valuable and impressive. Leaving Friesens and Winnipeg I knew that I would remain in contact with Glenda, she has been invaluable to The Life Chest team and is an absolute pleasure. This year I am thankful for Glenda and for the opportunity to travel to Friesens with The Life Chest. It was truly a #LIFECHESTMOMENT

I can’t finish this post without acknowledging my favorite little turkey, My son Henry.

Here he is playing a hybrid of a few sports.

Giving Thanks: Julie Donegan

On Thanksgiving I am Thankful for:

My Dog

Giving Thanks Julie Donegan

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Mike Elliott
Mike is truly a Life Chest Lifer! We are so grateful to have gotten to work with him. And what he does through the All Veteran Group is so inspiring and admirable we are honored to be connected with him. We wish Mike a happy, happy Turkey day!

Julie Donna and Mike Elliot

Mark “Ranger” Jones
We met Ranger back in May and have been learning so much since! Not only does he have an impressive personal story of achievement but he does incredible work with the Fisher Foundation. Another Life Chest Lifer we are so grateful for! Happy Thanksgiving Ranger!

Mark Ranger Jones

Giving Thanks: Jill Jordan

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of the year as we celebrate the family and friends we have, while remembering the ones that may not be with us today. I share a day a long time ago – when I sat at “the kids table” with my siblings, dreaming of the day when my sister got out of the highchair, allowing me to be advanced to the main table. Daddy was the best turkey-carver in the world; leaving not a scrap of meat on the carcass. Perhaps it’s an “engineering thing” or perhaps, it’s just “a daddy thing”.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving Day continues to be “The Table” because while there may be different faces around the table; it’s always filled with loving family, friends and laughter.

I give extra thanks this year to a dear friend, Molly MacDonald, Founder of The Pink Fund. Her work is so loving — supporting those who need financial assitance while undergoing breast cancer treatment to make ends meet – sometimes simply getting food on a table for their family. Molly has a wonderful gift of connecting people who may be able to help one another. She gave me the gift this year of meeting another remarkable, giving person — Donna Yost.

Molly shared the mission of THE LIFE CHEST and Donna’s quest to see a million families owning their own Life Chest in order to preserve their memories. Molly shared, “I don’t know if Donna’s company would be hiring, but it’s the kind of work that has your name all over it, Jill. I would love for the two of you to meet, regardless of what the future holds”. Well that day happened just last month, on my birthday, and I began my work with THE LIFE CHEST helping others to leave a legacy and to keep memories alive.

I’m grateful for the introduction to Donna and her awesome team that I can now call my family. The faces around the table may change but the love at the table remains the same.

Wishing you a beautiful Thanksgiving…full of fond memories.