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The (tur)key to a great Thanksgiving in Chapel Hill

By Isaac Rosso Klakovich and Brooke Bauman

Turkey is the most iconic part of Thanksgiving
Turkey is the most iconic part of Thanksgiving

Celebrated by people across the nation, Thanksgiving is a classic American holiday which unites families through food, football, and traditions passed down through the generations. In recent years, many young people have forgone the authentic Thanksgiving traditions in exchange for their own quirky customs. Thanksgiving is celebrated in varied ways throughout the US, and Chapel Hill is no exception. Families can participate in walks for hunger, volunteer at their local food shelter, cheer their favorite football team on, or attend a parade.

Even with all of the activities available to the public, food will always remain the main attraction of Thanksgiving. Many people use the holiday as an annual excuse to stuff their face with food without any judgement, and rightfully so. Despite these somewhat gluttonous habits, food can also be a part of the holiday’s traditional value for many families. With dishes centered around a traditional harvest, tables are set with an assortment of delectable treats like mashed potatoes, creamed corn, turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and bread rolls.

Sophomore Camille Witt looks forward to her family’s classical cuisine. “We usually have sparking cider,” explained Witt. “My dad usually makes scalloped potatoes, and my mom usually makes a corn pone dish which is really good.”

Some families now go out to eat instead of going through the hassles of a home-cooked meal. The Carolina Inn offers a specialized brunch for Thanksgiving Day with all of the fixings of a classic Thanksgiving meal. Other local restaurants that serve dinner on Thanksgiving include the Weathervane Restaurant, and Tallula’s, which puts a Turkish twist on traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Even with these unique options available, many students, like sophomore Frances O’Grady, prefer a home-cooked family dinner.

“We usually cook with at home with our family, which I think is way better. It’s more representative of what Thanksgiving means to me, which is a sense of community and family,” said O’Grady.

Thanksgiving allows families to reflect on what they are grateful for, and one of the best ways to do this help those who are less privileged. Two great ways to give back in the Triangle area this Thanksgiving are the Thanksgiving Dinners Program in Durham and Durham Rescue Mission’s annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner. The Thanksgiving Dinners Program is put on by the Volunteer Center of Durham and involves families sponsoring a family in need and preparing Thanksgiving dinner for them, which they deliver in the days before Thanksgiving. This gives people the opportunity to see exactly how their kindness can benefit others, instilling participants with the feeling of goodwill that defines Thanksgiving. The Annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner is held in Durham and provides homeless men and women with Thanksgiving dinner. Last year the volunteers fed over 800 people, giving those with very little the same joy that others experience on this holiday.

A Snoopy float at the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
A Snoopy float at the 87th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Many families also enjoy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, broadcasted on NBC across the country. The parade features several artists, balloons, floats, bands, musical groups, broadway performers, and dancers. Since its start in 1924, the parade has become a tradition for many families to watch and join in on the celebration.

Aside from turkey or giant balloons, few images are as synonymous with Thanksgiving as football. A tradition started by the Detroit Lions in 1934, professional football is a staple of Thanksgiving. Every Thanksgiving, both the Cowboys and Lions play games throughout the day while other teams rotate into an honorable spot playing a game on the holiday. While many families watch the games many play football as well. Both are great ways for families to bond and have fun before or after their Thanksgiving dinner.

The Detroit Loins and Chicago Bears played the first Thanksgiving professional football game in 1934
The Detroit Loins and Chicago Bears played the first Thanksgiving professional football game in 1934

No matter how people celebrate Thanksgiving, there is no doubt that it is the holiday that spreads the most goodwill throughout communities.

“The most important thing is that our family is all together on Thanksgiving and in the end it wouldn’t matter to us whether the food was homemade or not,” confided senior Lee Franklin, illustrating what Thanksgiving means to him.

This mentality is one that all should adopt during this Thanksgiving season. The purpose of the holiday isn’t to stuff oneself with food but to acknowledge the important people in one’s life and do something meaningful to show this thankfulness.

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