Why Thanksgiving Traditions are so Important

Atlanta Eats | Mom Thyme

My appreciation for Cranberry Relish began the week of Thanksgiving when I was nine. That particular year, my third grade teacher asked each student in our class to bring in a small jar and promised that we’d fill it up with a special Thanksgiving treat for our families. That Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I was beaming from ear to ear when Mama picked me up from school and I got to show off my little jar full of Cranberry Relish. I could hardly wait to see my family’s faces when they tasted my delicious contribution to Thanksgiving Dinner (I was certain this stuff was PRETTY FANCY – much different than the ridged kind in the can we usually ate).

I don’t remember everything from that Thanksgiving Dinner, but I do remember how proud I was to offer each person at the table a spoonful of “my” Cranberry Relish. I have to applaud Mama, as she made me feel that the little jar of Cranberry Relish I’d brought home from school was as equally important to the meal as the Roasted Turkey she’d spent hours on and the Cornbread Dressing she’d so carefully prepared.

When I think back on that Thanksgiving, I’m reminded that it’s the little things we do on holidays (and, in life) that end up being the memories we cherish the most (who knew that I’d be writing about that Cranberry Relish twenty six years later!). And, it makes me think about the kind of parent I want to be – to be like my Mama, and every day remind my children how very much they’re loved and valued.

This Thanksgiving, as you’re scurrying around trying to get everything “done”, remember that each moment is an opportunity to build upon memories and family traditions. You never know what memories or family traditions you’ll be creating when you allow your child to help you out in the kitchen with the Cranberry Relish or the Cornbread for the Dressing. Or, maybe it’ll be setting the table or handing out pieces of paper for everyone to write down what they’re most thankful for. Regardless of what they are, take the time to make the little moments memorable.

Since that Thanksgiving in third grade, one of our family traditions is for me to make the Cranberry Relish each year. Below is my go-to recipe that’s super easy to make (hint, child-friendly!) and only requires a few ingredients. . And, don’t toss it once the turkey’s gone, this Cranberry Relish is also fantastic over a Baked Brie or Goat Cheese with crackers or mixed in with Greek yogurt for a healthy and delicious snack.

So, this Thanksgiving, as you’re building traditions with your family, make sure it’s a day filled with good food, lots of love, and happy times! Enjoy!

Cranberry Relish

16 ounces fresh cranberries

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

½ cup cranberry juice (NOT cranberry juice cocktail)

½ cup fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon grated orange zest


Combine ingredients in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat (stirring often) about 10 minutes or until cranberries pop open. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 months.


Recipe from www.epicurious.com

Cranberries 1 (2)


Cranberries 2 (2)What Tradition


  1. Samantha:What a great article! This reminded me of some of the traditions we used to do as a kid at my grandmothers. For whatever reason, some of these have gone by the wayside. Thanks for the reminder :)
  2. Sommer:I love this!!! Such a wonderful reminder of what is really important during the holidays! I am planning on making this with my children and hopefully they will remember making it with me 26 years later too!
  3. Anna Brindley:That is such a great story and reminder. I am inspired!
  4. Deidre Jones:I'm so proud to know you, beautiful lady! I love real cranberry stuff. I make it every year. Putting it in yogurt is a great idea. I will try it. love you.
  5. Kelly:Family, traditions, and the "small things" in life are truly the "spice ans relish" of life!!, Thank you for reminding us of this and the importance of reinforcing how special our children are and need to be included in building traditions! Your recipe sounds and looks fabulous ; I add a little cinnamon and use brown sugar in my cranberry relish. Happy Thanksgiving,,