Marcia Strykowski

Thanksgiving Thoughts & Traditions

While I stir cranberries, bake pies, and grate cabbage for coleslaw, I’m thinking of Thanksgivings gone by and Thanksgivings to come, and how thankful I am for this special holiday. On that note, I figured I’d revisit this post from a few years back and spruce it up with some new additions since I don’t have time to carve out an entirely new article.

I just looked up what foods are considered traditional for the holiday. They include turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, cornbread, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pie for dessert. This all seems right in line with our menus, although we always include something green, too, like broccoli or asparagus, or good ol’ green bean casserole, and usually squash, too. For pies, we’ll be serving pumpkin and apple. I also got in the habit of making Chex™ Party Mix each year.

This year I skipped the party mix because my son won’t be able to join us, sniff 😦 . I should have made it anyway and sent him a tin full which I did the one other time he couldn’t be home for Thanksgiving. He was studying at Oxford and wasn’t due to visit until Christmas break. We did Skype that year though, propped a close screen view of him right up on the tabletop. 🙂 However, he and his lovely wife have a very good reason to be far away this holiday, so all is well and we’ll see them soon.

It’s definitely a season to count blessings, but it can sometimes be challenging to feel cheerful and deserving of so much when others are going through such unbelievably difficult hardships. Not only personal acquaintances, but those shown daily in the news. We all have problems but some people seem to have more than their share at times.

Although there are many discrepancies about what went on, who attended, and what they ate, most people agree the first Thanksgiving was held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. I find it interesting that this famous Currier & Ives Lithograph along with the popular tune of “Over the River and Through the Wood,” both created in the mid 1800s, also both had roots in Massachusetts.

c&i american homestead winter

Over the River and Through the Wood

By Lydia Maria Child

Over the river and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes,
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound,
For this is Thanksgiving-Day.

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barnyard gate!
We seem to go
Extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood;
Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Lydia_Maria_ChildLydia Maria Francis Child, born in Medford, Massachusetts (February 11, 1802 – October 20, 1880), was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, opponent of American expansionism, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist. Here she is reading a book in 1870.

Currier and Ives was a successful American printmaking firm headed by Nathaniel Currier (1813–1888) born in Roxbury, Massachusetts and James Merritt Ives (1824–1895) of New York. Currier & Ives produced at least 7,500 lithographs during its seven decades. Artists created two to three new images every week on lithographic stones. The images were printed in black and white and then colored by hand in assembly-line fashion, with each worker applying one color.  Currier & Ives sold more than a million prints, through peddlers, pushcart vendors and bookstores, through the mail and through an international office in London.

In Amy’s Choice, Amy teaches her friends how to make turkey apples to start off their traditional Thanksgiving celebration. Shown below are a few turkeys the kids in my family made to decorate our Thanksgiving table one year. Any holiday traditions going on in your house?

turkey apples

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” —Cicero

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!



  1. Louise

    I love your photos of the Fall. And I’m going to try making the little strawberry Santas–for my elderly friends, not for children!


    • Thanks, Louise! The Strawberry Santas (found under the Recipes & Crafts tab) are easy to whip up, along with being healthy and delicious. Have fun making and sharing them!


  2. I love this song. We sang it in grade school. And I still remember some of the verses. Thank you for the reminder.


  3. Bette Norton

    Your post reminds me of years ago singing this song in the back seat of the car, on the way to my grandparents home up in Maine for Thanksgiving! I only knew a few verses. I love seeing the rest of the verses and the history behind the song and the Currier and Ives prints! Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!


    • Thank you, Bette. In one of the earliest versions there are actually 12 verses, but these 5 have always been the most popular. Happy Thanksgiving!


  4. After seeing those adorable turkey apples, I’m realizing my family doesn’t have nearly enough fun traditions. 🙂 I’ll have to come up with some!


    • My children always enjoyed making (and eating) these turkeys each year. Happy Holidays!


  5. I love the turkey apples! Cute.


  6. Ashley

    I enjoy learning the traditions of this holiday and the history behind the song and painting, thank you!


  7. I love the ‘white and drifted snow’. And dapple greys, that’s one of my fav types of horse coat. =)


    • Yes, these lyrics really set a peaceful scene. Have a nice holiday!


  8. Edna

    Loved the poem. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


  9. Hello Marcia,
    I love the words to ‘Over the River and Through the Wood’ and can’t believe it’s the first time I’ve come across them. Sharing is THE best part of blogging. Barbara x


    • Hi Barbara, so glad this old New England favorite made it across the pond! 🙂


  10. Those turkey apples are super cute! I have always loved this song and the images it conjures up. 🙂


  11. I love this whole post, Marcia. History, beautiful art, poetry and a taste of your family life. It doesn’t get much better than that!


  12. Cathy

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!


  13. I have never made turkey apples. I would have loved making them as a kid. The traditional foods you mentioned are all a part of our Thanksgiving- but there are many other additions- lots of veggie dishes too.

    Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!


  14. Barbara Fisher

    I have all kinds of thoughts running through my mind after reading about your son and his wife. Perhaps I’ve missed something or maybe there is an update to come later… 🙂 I may be a little late for Thanksgiving but either way I send my best wishes. x


    • Hi Barbara! I guess I shouldn’t have been so secretive, let’s just say our family will very soon be plus one. 🙂 It was quietly announced on FB, but not here to the world at large. Thanks for your good wishes!


  15. Wonderful post, Marcia. I love the Currier and Ives print, and of course the history. Happy Thanksgiving to you! 🦃


    • Thanks, Jennie! I hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving week, as well. I don’t know how to make a turkey here, so a smilie face will have to do. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, Marcia! We’re visiting family and having a wonderful time, so we missed the bitter cold Thanksgiving back home. Hope your holiday was good. Best to you! The turkey is in the emoji collection on my phone. I still like the smiley face best. 🙂


  16. clarehelenwelsh

    Lovely post, Marcia xx


  17. Those turkeys Marcia!!! Good to stop and reflect on Thanksgiving– hoping it lasts beyond November. Sounds like you had a real full of feast! Did you cook it All??! And will you son and his wife be able to come fo Christmas? We had all our kids together for Thanksgiving. But at Christmas this year, only 2 of the 4 families will be with us. But with 6 adults and 5 grand-kids that’s a whole lot of people in our little house! Hope you’re well and busily making Chex Mix for Christmas!! hugs hugs from here. xo


    • Hi Rhonda, yes, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving, hope you did, too. We’ll be travelling to see my son, DIL, and hopefully a new little soul, the day after Christmas. Thanks for checking in! xo


      • Hooray for new little people! I know it will be such a sweet time for you Marcia! hoping you have the best sort of Christmas at home and with your travels! hugs!


  18. It’s fun to learn a little about the author of Over the River and Through the Wood. I hadn’t realized that it was written by a woman or how old it was.


    • Always great to discover a long ago woman who is still remembered for her work in the arts, isn’t it? 🙂


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