Thanksgiving Traditions for the Whole Family

Thumb image with Thanksgiving Traditions Title

Gratitude: a big word with an even bigger meaning.  It’s so big, in fact, that we have an entire day set aside each year to celebrate our gratitude for our good fortune.  Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season with food, family, and good old-fashioned tradition. And for all of the traditions many families hold dear on Thanksgiving, every family has some of their own unique traditions to make the celebration all the more special.

Thanksgiving has long been cherished as a time to put aside petty differences and mend fences with people in our lives.  Being grateful for people who, in their own little way, make our lives better, is the umbrella under which all other gratitude falls.  Being thankful for health, wealth, and happiness comes into play only after we recognize the people who make these things possible: accepting each person for who they are, minimizing conflict, and simply smiling more create an ambiance of warmth and holiday joy.

Thanksgiving in the U.S. and Canada: Similarities and Differences
Although the United States’ version of the holiday – with turkey and stuffing and pilgrims and Native Americans – is the one that most commonly springs to mind when you hear “Thanksgiving,” it’s also celebrated in Canada, too.

While Thanksgiving in the U.S. is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, Canadian Thanksgiving is observed on the second Monday of October. Those in the French Canadian provinces refer to it as l’Action de Grace.

Despite being celebrated almost a month apart, the sentiment behind the holidays are the same. Traditionally, both were rooted in gratitude for a bountiful harvest and giving thanks for all of the blessings of the past year. While the American version commemorates the first feast of settlers in the New World, Canada’s version of Thanksgiving is a national holiday to remember the harvest and its fruits.

A Time For Bounty and Bonding
It’s not always just the Thanksgiving meal that’s a major part of the holiday. In some cases, it’s the togetherness fostered by preparing for Turkey Day that provides a foundation for the gratitude of holiday.

Arts and crafts projects, such as making placemats for each family member or creating a paper gratitude chain (with each construction paper link inscribed with something each person is thankful for) are fun ways to spend time together and decorate for Thanksgiving, too.

Having a little extra help in the kitchen – or not – can be nice, too. While some people love having company in the kitchen while preparing the feast, others prefer to fly solo when cooking the bird. However, allowing certain family members access to the kitchen may be a special treat. It just may be worth giving them a peek at the secret family recipe book to make sure traditions are handed down from generation to generation.

Thanksgiving Traditions for Families: Embracing Unique Family Traditions
Family tradition is a cornerstone of any Thanksgiving celebration.  Each family has its own playbook of traditions, passed down through the generations.  Some traditions include watching football together as a family – or eating “dinner” earlier than usual, for instance, at 2pm in the afternoon instead of after 5pm.

If sports aren’t your family’s bowl of gravy, marathoning long movies (such as the Lord of the Rings or Star Wars trilogies) or Thanksgiving-themed favorites like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles or It’s Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown are fun traditions that bond the family before or after the big meal.

Other families who want a mix of the two may have video game tournaments – taking an interactive love of Madden and fantasy to another level with just a smidge of friendly competition.

One tradition held by many families throughout America is the act of going around the family table and having each person say what they are thankful for.  Even those of us who may have had a trying year can reflect upon the good fortune in our lives.

But not everyone looks forward to that moment when it’s their turn to speak and all eyes are on them.  When it’s your turn, just speak from the heart.  Some classic examples of things to be thankful for include good health, strong relationships, and a promising future for the family as a whole.

Saying Grace: Giving a Thanksgiving Blessing
Another American family Thanksgiving tradition is to give praise to The Man Upstairs — and we’re not talking about great-uncle Albert who needed a pre-dinner nap in the guest room.

Whether the figurehead of your family gives the blessing each year or your family members take turns, saying grace doesn’t need to be feared.  Speak from the heart, or if you’re uncomfortable speaking off-the-cuff, prepare a memorized prayer beforehand.  As long as you speak with gratitude at the forefront of the blessing, the tradition of mealtime prayer will continue to be a stress-free front runner to the feast that lays ahead. There is no wrong way to show gratitude as long as you’re sincere!

Make Way for a Traditional Family Feast!
And now that brings us to the good stuff!  Before us lays a spread of the bounty of the harvest, the fruits of Mother Nature’s labor, with our guest of honor, Tom Turkey, proudly centered among his tasty counterparts.

As tradition continues, it’s usually the patriarch who carves the bird to the delight of hungry diners. Slices of this succulent superstar are passed around, followed by the customary stuffing, potatoes, and cranberries. Whether your family tradition is to stick to the classics or to add a twist with slightly unusual sides, vegetarian options for those who are more tickled by tofu than turkey, each family finds its own stride around the holiday dinner table.  Some families even find creative ways to incorporate ethnic family food favorites into the holiday mix, such as those with German heritage enjoying a side of schnitzel and Mexican-American families setting out a plate of savory tamales.

And after the bones are picked clean and the leftovers are packed away for Mom’s famous day-after turkey sandwiches, it all comes down to the wishbone tradition.  Two lucky guests are selected to do the honors, each taking an end to snap. The person who gets the bigger piece of the wishbone, as per tradition, receives their wish. However, the wish of peace, love, and continued family tradition is always a favorite choice for everyone.

While every family’s traditions are unique in their own way, it’s comforting to know so many of these customs are rooted in common ground. While the familiar Norman Rockwell-style Thanksgiving with a turkey and all its trimmings is common, it’s more about what are the meaningful dishes to you and your family. Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!



November 2015 Desktop Background & Letter from our Editor


We’re coming up on Thanksgiving when many of us feel that tingle of excitement at seeing friends and loved ones gathered round.  We may also be feeling the tug of nostalgia for Thanksgivings gone by and people we may not be seeing this year.  But we press on.  Maybe this is the year we think outside the turkey and gift someone else with a Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to express our appreciation for all that we have, for the people we love, the friends who are always there for us, and for the hope and spiritual resolve we need to carry us through difficult times.  You can reach out to family and friends this holiday with our new Blue Mountain Thanksgiving cards.  Simple Gifts captures the joy and magic of a woodland celebration and features the charming Shaker hymn that it is named for.  You can send a smile with our new talking cards, Happy Collie Days and Let’s Talk Turkey.  And for a big laugh, you can share our diva turkey, Gloria, who will sing her hilarious parody of “I Will Survive.”

So let us be grateful for the trials we’ve survived, the blessings we enjoy today, and the joys and challenges yet to come.  Whatever your plans for the holiday, we here at Blue Mountain want you to know we are ever grateful for your kind attention and wish you a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving.

We also have a brand new, beautifully Thanksgiving-inspired desktop background for your computer, phone, and even your Facebook cover image.

November Background:
2560 x 1440 / 1680 x 1050 / 1440 x 900 / 1280 x 800Facebook Cover Photo / Phone
For help on how to install, click here.

CarolineCaroline Martlew, Senior Editor



Learn how to set a table this holiday season

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, we know you’re busy reviewing your guest list, making centerpieces, and digging deep into your cabinets to pull out Grandma’s very best china.  Whether you’re planning a formal affair, or gathering friends and family together for a casual day of comfort food and football, we thought it would be helpful to share this handy infographic of varying place setting etiquette to help you set a festive Thanksgiving table with the “proper” flair.

Proper place setting is not as difficult as it seems. The basic rule for any type of dinner party is that Utensils are placed in the order of their use; that is, from the outside in. The other helpful tip is that forks go to the left of the plate, and knives and spoons go to the right. And finally, only set the table with utensils you plan on using. There will be so much food on the table already that you don’t want to clutter anyone’s table setting by giving them a soup spoon if there is no soup!




eCard of the Week: Life’s Gifts…

There is so much to be thankful for at this special time of year…family, friends, love and freedom and all are depicted beautifully in this elegant ecard, “Life’s Gifts.” It’s a sentimental look at the important things that enrich our lives and make us happy and grateful every day.

Blue Mountain has a variety of Thanksgiving and other seasonal ecards and Print at Home cards that are perfect for this special time of year. They’re a wonderful way to help you stay connected with those who mean so much.



Thanksgiving Recipes!

Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most loved meals of the year – and that can put a lot of pressure on the cook! Everyone knows what to look for on Thanksgiving, and everyone has a favorite, but sometimes it’s good to change it up a bit – nothing too crazy, but a new take on an old classic can be a welcome treat.

One great idea is to have one or two new additions to the menu each year. That way,  favorite traditional fare will stay in place, but a few new options will be on the table. Here are a few suggestions…

Side Dishes –

Side dishes are a great place to mix it up and try something new. Although mashed potatoes are somewhat sacred on Thanksgiving, Butternut Squash Risotto is a great option too, plus it’s very festive and seasonal for the occasion.

Many households have some take on a sweet potato recipe – usually a sweet dish topped with pecans, brown sugar and marshmallows, but why not turn them into a savory side dish and feature Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Ginger.

Turkey Talk –

Now, you might not want to mess around with the main course too much, but these suggestions are pretty tame, and,  if you’re cooking for a very large number of people, you you  might be cooking two bird anyway so try one traditional recipe and one that’s a little different.

If you haven’t tried a deep-fried turkey yet, maybe this is the year – try this yummy  Cajun Deep-Fried Turkey recipe. If frying the turkey is just not your thing try this delicious recipe for a Honey Brined Smoked Turkey – it’s sure the please!

Sweets –

It can be fun coming up with interesting recipes while sticking with seasonal ingredients for dessert. Try this Apple Crostata with Cheddar Crust, or how about Pumpkin Fudge? Of course, you can’t go wrong with a perfect Pumpkin Pie Recipe – and it’s always a good idea to have one on hand.

Have fun with these Thanksgiving Recipes and don’t forget that sending a quick Thanksgiving Ecard is a great way to connect during the holiday season – let your friends and loved ones know you’re thinking about them today!




The Legend of the Wishbone

The wishbone legend began with the ancient belief that chickens were fortune tellers.  The tradition of wishing on their clavicle, or “wishbone” was passed down through generations and brought to America by the Pilgrims.

You can read the full story in our Wishbone Thanksgiving eCard.

Magical Wishbone Thanksgiving eCard



Interview with Artist, David Sommers!

This month’s featured artist is David Sommers! David was able to share some of his busy day to answer a few questions in an interview here at artist David Sommers

When did you first realize you are an artist?

In grade school I did a bad drawing of an eagle but when I looked at the drawings the other kids were doing, I thought “wow, I guess mine isn’t too bad”!

What is your position at Blue Mountain and what is your background as an artist?


I’m a Senior Creative Developer. Growing up in Montana I used to paint landscapes and wildlife paintings, I also painted murals on the walls of businesses.  At one point I even had a job painting decorative duck decoys at a log cabin in a very scenic mountain stream setting.  A few years later, even though I knew nothing about computers, I landed a job creating electronic greeting cards while still going to art school.  Nearly everything I’ve learned about electronic art has been on-the-job.  I still love to paint with traditional tools as well as create art with the computer in my spare time.


What inspires you to create your designs and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

Natural designs are amazing, I love to be in nature learning from masterful designs everywhere.  The layers and movement of a landscape with plants, animals and people are inspiring.  Recently I took a trip to the art museum with my family and realized all over again how the works of master artists across many cultures inspire me. I’m also inspired by the work of the artists and animators here at BMA.  When things get tough in the studio I sit under my desk and cry.  No, just kidding, I love a good challenge, it keeps things interesting and I’m thankful for the learning and growth that comes from trying to solve a difficult task.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

It would be great to still be creating art and animation with this excellent team.  I keep hoping I won’t wake up from this dream job!  I enjoy the work, the people and the atmosphere here at Blue Mountain.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Figure out what your passions are and then follow them.  I didn’t realize that I could make a living as an artist so I just floundered for a while until the day I got encouragement from a wonderful family that saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and they guided me to follow my passion.  Intelligently directed passion is the key ingredient for success.  Two more important pieces of advice:  Work hard and pray for guidance.

After the interview, we saw some of David’s favorite eCard creations, including ones he created for Thanksgiving.  David was one of the creative masterminds behind’s this year’s Thanksgiving eCard headliners, “Magical Wishbone” and “Dueling Banjos.” He’s also animated such eCard favorites as “A Woman’s Heart” and “Heard it was Cake Time!”  To read more about David, and see more of his beautiful animation work, visit his page in the artist gallery.

Thanks for a great interview, David!