Lumberjack Thanksgiving traditions

Overhead view of Thanksgiving table

During a time known for overindulging on food and spending time with family and friends, we asked our Lumberjack community about their favorite Thanksgiving traditions. Here are their responses. 


Tablecloth of memories 

“We have a tablecloth that we use on the Thanksgiving table every year. Each year, family and guests write what they are thankful for that year in permanent marker along with their initials and the date. This is a tradition of almost 30 years, and there’s not a lot of space left on the tablecloth! Every year when we sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, before saying grace, everyone seems to end up holding their plate in the air to read the messages from previous years. Lots of laughter and fun stories come forward from those previous message… good times!” 

Hope DeMello, Department of Educational Psychology 


Peanuts-style, please! 

My family’s Thanksgiving always included my immediate family, my grandparents and my great-aunt and uncle. Because we didn’t want our older relatives driving at night, we would have our Thanksgiving meal for lunch instead of dinner. After everyone else went home and it was time for actual dinner, we’d still be pretty full. So, instead of making a whole new meal, we’d put popcorn, toast, pretzel sticks and jelly beans on a big plate and watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special while enjoying our Peanuts-style Thanksgiving dinner! 

Hannah Marshall, studying Secondary Education, History/Social Studies 


10 a.m. at the dive bar  

“Instead of Black Friday shopping in the morning, my family and I get together at a local dive bar—the kind of bar that is so dark inside it takes your eyes at least 10 minutes to adjust. We sit and chat and catch up, this time without all the stress of making sure things get out of ovens and onto tables, and gossip about the happenings at the meal the day before. Our Thanksgiving get-together is usually really large, with close to 40 people in attendance, so the small, intimate group time (and cheap drinks) is really nice.” 

 McKenzie McLoughlin, NAU Communications 

Man carves turkey


The turkey master 

We all get together at my dad’s house, the table growing more and more filled over the years with new partners, new babies and new friends. But the one constant is that my husband cooks an amazing turkey! (Here he is carving it whilst my brother eagerly awaits.) 

Chelsea Westfall, pursuing a M.A. in English Literature 


Celebrating Native American heritage 

“As a proud Native American, this is the perfect time to spend time with family and share stories about our ancestors to the younger generations. The young generations will continue these wonderful teachings.” 

Tomantha, College of Education 



“3 Pies: Apple, Pumpkin, and Sugar Cream Pie (Aka: Hoosier Pie)” 

John Gartin, NAU Career Development 


Girl holds up turkey craft

Quality crafting time 

 My daughter Michaela is very crafty! Every Thanksgiving we break out the arts and crafts supplies and make decorations for the table and place settings. We save them each year, and it’s fun to look back and see how much she’s grown through the things she’s made. Recently, we also started capping off our Thanksgiving night by getting a Groupon for Christmas at the Princess and strolling through the hotel grounds and taking in all the holiday lights! 

Maria DeCabooter, NAU Social Media  


Morning meander 

“A long hike in the morning, even if we have to drive to a lower elevation because of bad weather here on the mountain. My two absolute must-haves on the Thanksgiving dining room table are: sweet and hot sausage cornbread stuffing and homemade, garlic smashed potatoes!”  

Mitch Strohman, NAU-TV and Voice of the Lumberjacks


Puzzlin’ for days! 

“After the dinner is done and the dishes put away, our family eats pie and works on a very large jigsaw puzzle. This goes on for two or three days. We talk and laugh and eat a LOT of pie!”  

Kathy Weinzinger, Center for International Education 


The more the merrier  

“In recent years, my family has been traveling to Flagstaff for Thanksgiving, and we have expanded our family group to include friends, significant others, parents and siblings of our friends or significant others and more. They say sometimes family is the family we choose, and we’ve definitely adopted a “the more the merrier” approach to our Thanksgiving celebrations 😊  

Mary McGee, Alumni Engagement 


Channeling their inner Louie

“Going to cut our Christmas tree as a family.” 

Samantha White, University Events 


NAU Communications