, Muskogee, OK

November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving traditions include food, fun

Family gatherings highlight Thanksgiving memories

By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Bill Chandler said he celebrates Thanksgiving in a traditional way.

“All of the family and friends go to mom’s house,” Chandler said. “Everyone loves to gather there. The meal will be traditional, too. Mom usually cooks the turkey and some sides. Most of the relatives usually bring enough stuff to feed a small army.”

Thanksgiving is a time when the word traditional can take on different meanings for different people, whether the place you gather is at a restaurant or a relative’s house, or whether you serve turkey and dressing or ham and green bean casserole, or both.

Chandler, an Okay resident, said one of his favorite Thanksgiving memories is ongoing and involves reminiscing about holidays past.

“My grandfather was a full-blood Cherokee and owned land out by Lake Tenkiller,” he said. “My mom and other family members can remember growing all their own food for the meal and then fixing an enormous Thanksgiving dinner for family and friends. They talk about how everyone just sat around with a full belly and enjoyed the company.”

Ryan McCarthy of Muskogee said a traditional Thanksgiving for his family involves a substantial amount of fun and food.

“It’s basically me and about 15 relatives getting together and hanging out,” McCarthy said. “We play board games and watch football. The meal usually has a little of everything, and there’s at least three tables full of food. We’re a family who loves to eat, and I’m definitely looking forward to the meal.”

McCarthy also shared a special victorious Thanksgiving moment.

“My best Thanksgiving memory is when I finally beat my Aunt Peggy at Sequence,” he said.

George New of Gore said his favorite Thanksgiving moment involved the coming-of-age moment where he got to switch dinner tables.

“It was definitely when I finally got to sit at the grown-up table,” New said. “I can’t remember exactly when it was, but I know I was married when it happened. I think I was 23 or 24, and I’m positive the only reason it happened is because I was finally married, so they considered me grown up.”

New also said he was thankful for quite a few different things this year.

“I’m thankful for my parents, my wife, my kids and my health,” he said. “I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few years ago, but I’m doing OK with that now.”

Chandler said he was thankful for the “good times” he’s had.

“I’m thankful for living as long as I have,” he said. “And my mother is 92, and she’s still with us. I don’t get too materialistic about things, I am just glad for the everyday stuff. It’s pleasant to dredge up all the old memories and the good times we’ve had.”

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“We usually play a little game of football, but everyone is getting older, so that’s dying out. Now we just make the kids play.”

Charles Barnoski


“Our traditional meal consists of turkey, mashed potatoes and green beans, but dessert is the most important. My favorite is coconut cream pie.”

Billy Taylor

Fort Gibson

“My favorite Thanksgiving memories were when my grandmother was still alive. She was a really good cook and died when I was young.”

Trisha Frazier


“One of the traditions we have is watching the movie “A Christmas Story.” We also watch a little bit of football and try to relax and just enjoy time with family.”

Shannon Knight


“We eat turkey, dressing and banana pudding every year. Banana pudding, it is a tradition passed down by my aunt, and we are trying to carry it on.”

Tess Cariker


“I visit family, get together and eat food and be thankful. This year, we are having meatloaf, my mom’s homemade meatloaf.”

Brennan Barnhart


“I watch Dallas and Detroit every Thanksgiving. I’m a Dallas fan from way back. Of course, you have to have the after-dinner nap.”

Jack Covey


“I’m moving on Thanksgiving day, a new tradition. But usually we have around 22 people, play cards, laugh, tell stories, eat pumpkin and pecan pie. My brother has gotten pretty good at smoking the turkey.”

Cheryl Paladino