Every Thanksgiving, the informant’s family goes around the table while each person says what they are thankful for before they eat the meal. The informant records all of the thank yous on tape, and he says that many people who have shared Thanksgiving with the family have brought the tradition home with them and adopted it as their own.
The informant said he liked to do it, first of all, because it made all the kids nervous, but also because it got everyone involved. Each person would have their own version of a thank you from his sister in-law who would read a pre-written 4 page one to the kids who year after year would repeat “Thank you for the food.”
He got the tradition from his in-laws and started recording them, but then the traditional meal moved to his house so he could control it a bit more. The thank you is also a bit of an initiation for new members of the family because everyone has to say something.
I asked if he ever plans to watch them, and the informant replied, “Oh yeah, some point I will.”
The tradition of saying thank you brings the family together, and it gets everyone to really think about their lives in the past year. It allows people to say the things that are normally too cheesy to say in public. For the children, the Thanksgiving where they say they are thankful for more than the food also represents a rite of passage where they are now adult enough to say something more meaningful to them.