Mom and son do a touchdown dance during the Govea Family Turkey Bowl, an annual tradition.

Thanksgiving is on Thursday, Nov. 28, and families across the country will be sharing a meal together and giving thanks for their blessings.

Every family, though, seems to have a unique routine when it comes to the holiday, so The Miami County Republic recently asked local community members to answer the question: “What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?”

Their responses are printed below:

“Our Thanksgiving tradition is having someone new at our Thanksgiving dinner every year. Many times these new guests become people that join us year after year. This year we will be hosting someone from Italy and someone from Turkey. It will be great to share our holiday traditions and remember all we have to be thankful for.”

- Paula Gage, Sunflower Elementary interrelated teacher

“Each year, we like to provide a ‘Thanksgiving Breakfast’ for the wrestling team. It started as my wife and me making a bunch of burritos and biscuits and gravy and inviting the team to our house. We outgrew that tradition, and the parents started getting involved. Now we serve our breakfast to the wrestlers at school after our last practice before Thanksgiving. We have an extra tough practice to make room for all those calories and carbs, and then get to enjoy the fellowship of being a team and sitting down to eat together.”

- Bobby Bovaird, Louisburg High School wrestling coach

“Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! It always centers around family, food, and fun! We gather at my parents’ home in Overbrook, Kan., first and then later that weekend with my husband’s family in Olathe. Food is similar, but each have their specialties that I look forward to, like my mom’s Pimento Salad, her Creamy Mashed Potatoes, and her Pumpkin Pie. (I think pumpkin pie should be served year-round!) My husband’s mother has a Wild Rice Stuffing and Sweet Potato Casserole that are also my absolute favorites. For me, the side dishes are the stars of Thanksgiving dinner. At both homes before we eat, it is a tradition to share what we are thankful for. And sometimes we write our answers down on paper and try to guess who the author is. Of course, football games are always in the background, but we also play board games and card games until late at night.”

- Anita Yerkes, Paola Middle School librarian

“My favorite Thanksgiving tradition begins early in the morning on Thanksgiving Day. I make a huge batch of dough for rolls, and then when my family arrives, all of the children, even toddlers, help to shape the dough into cloverleaf rolls. This tradition started with my grandmother who believed that everything is more fun when the children get to participate.”

- Mary Ure, Cottonwood Elementary art teacher

“It’s all about family. We gather for a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings! Every member of the family is there telling stories about our grandparents, parents, siblings and children! Lots of laughter! We all share in a Thanksgiving prayer thankful for our health and our family. We pray for family in the military who were unable to make it home for that Thanksgiving. We are truly blessed and thankful for having each other.”

- Kayla Ratzlaff, co-owner of S&S Stables near Hillsdale Lake

“My favorite Thanksgiving tradition would be the Govea Family Turkey Bowl that is held the Sunday following Thanksgiving Day. On this day (the game features) dads, moms, sons, daughters, cousins, uncles, aunts, friends, and we have even had a grandpa or two play. It was originally Pete Govea’s property, (my dad) and when he passed we sold the property to Smitty who did not want to interfere with the tradition. The field is painted and yard markers are placed out. The first game was in 1979. Games have been played in the cold, rain, snow and beautiful sunny skies. Fun is had by all with homemade chili, snacks and Sunday football following.”

- Mark Govea, Osawatomie mayor

“My family getting together eating their fill, talking, grandkids playing, dessert making rounds multiple times. When darkness falls, Papa turns the Christmas house lights on and we all go outside to look at the glory of Christmas to come.”

- Debbie Oehlert, executive assistant with Miami County in Paola

“As the story goes, during the first winter the pilgrims resided in the new world, at the worst point of their hunger, their daily rations were down to five kernels of corn per day. After our traditional meal, the whole family sits around a table and we each get five candy corns. We go around the table, one round at a time and share the five things we are most thankful for. There are ALWAYS tears and thankful hearts. I think this is one of the best teaching moments for the little ears in the room.”

- Topher Philgreen, Louisburg

resident and executive vice

president/COO of Youthfront

“Our tradition always involves a turkey. When I was a kid, Mom bought a turkey bigger than her big, blue roaster. It was fun watching her wrestle with that turkey!”

- Loralei Crum, Paola USD 368 administrative assistant.

“(Traditions include) family, food, football, cards, and high school basketball alumni scrimmages,”

- State Rep. Mark Samsel, R-Wellsville

“The McDougal family — Kathleen, Nina, Douglas, Marti, Monica and Riley — have mostly had traditional home cooked meals. Turkey and ham aren’t usually on our menu, but beef of some sort and chicken are! Green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and Southern-style cornbread dressing with various other sides fill the table. As for desserts, there is usually a variety so as not to leave anyone out! We have tried other meals but seem to always come back to ‘traditional with a twist!’ This will increase as our children bring their life partners into this crazy mix!”

- Marti McDougal, pastor of the Osawatomie and Lane United Methodist churches

“My Granny, Barb Hines, has been making homemade noodles for all of our family gatherings for my entire life. Her and my Grandpa, Jody Hines, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this summer. Her noodles are looked forward to by friends and family alike that we have celebrated Thanksgiving with over the years.”

- Jeff Hines, Paola High School principal

“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is a time of gratitude and traditions that reminds us of our heritage. Our family and friends have many traditions that I cherish. A special tradition is spending time together.”

- State Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker

“Growing up, Thanksgiving usually meant a friendly touch football game with cousins. Now it revolves around watching my kids and nephews playing football when the weather is nice or watching football after dinner with the family.”

- Matt Meek, Paola USD 368 superintendent

“I make egg noodles with turkey broth that are a MUST at our Thanksgiving dinner table! My grandkids always ask; even though they KNOW, ‘are we having noodles?’ A second tradition is getting my granddaughter a new apron every year. She comes over every year before the big day to help me make pies and each time she gets a new apron!”

- Tracy Price, director of adult

services at Lakemary Center in Paola “Every year, my family goes to my sister Alicia’s house to celebrate with my side of the family before we go to my mother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving dinner. I have become known for my pumpkin roll dessert. It has taken me a few years to perfect my recipe, but it is pretty good! I also make chicken and noodles in honor of my dad. They will never be as good as his, no matter how hard I try.”

- Alison Moore, Louisburg High School music teacher and choir director

“The Thanksgiving traditions on Hays Hill have changed over the years as we have aged, but a few things involving food remain the same. We gather as a family, but we also include a few friends who might otherwise be alone. We call it, as my mom did, ‘our orphans’ picnic.’ Turkey has always been the meat of choice because we insist on giblet gravy for the potatoes and stuffing. That stuffing includes a southern touch of a can of chicken and rice soup. The cranberries aren’t from a can but cooked into a savory relish appearing on the table in Aunt May’s pink dish. We always know we will be too full to eat pie with dinner so, later in the day, we invite more friends over for pie and coffee. We do all this in a spirit of gratitude for the day, the family, the bounty and the lives we have been graced to live.”

- Margaret Hays, Osawatomie

resident and Republic columnist

“A large part of our Thanksgiving tradition has morphed into prepping for Christmas. We, and when I say we, I mean Butch, starts pulling copious amounts of lights and decorations down from the attic, the basement, and every possible storage area in the garage. I have come to discover that we are known as the Christmas House — the house heavily decorated on Holly Lane. The typical pre-holiday conversation revolves around the light saga; how many lights went out, where we picked up the new item, windy conditions that compromise process, taking advantage of every nice day until Thanksgiving, finding room for new items that we just had to complete the display, and, of course, the impressive ability Butch has to string together more cuss words than the 22-foot tree has lights. Yes, yes, we have friends and family over for Thanksgiving. But there is something to be said for the countless strangers that stop to say how much they look forward to the display each and every year.”

- Amanda Martell, Paola school board president

“We have very strong Christmas traditions, but on Thanksgiving we tend to travel to other family homes in Kansas or Texas for the holiday. Time around a table with memories and life being shared. At each of these family gatherings, my favorite thing shared is the prayer before we eat to give thanks to Lord above for our blessings we enjoy each day. My children look forward to the Elf on the Shelf returning from the North Pole.”

- Laura Epp, Miami County procurement agent/buyer

“My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is playing games with my family either before or after the Thanksgiving meal.”

- Staci Wokutch, Sunflower Elementary principal

“Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Growing up on a farm in rural Nebraska we had many traditions, but the one that sticks out most for me has to be the gathering of our family and listening to the many thanks we each had for that year. It was a simple tradition but one that I will always remember.”

- Karen Ulanski, director of the Paola Adult Education Center

“My wife, Becky, and our kids, Cayman and Moorea, and myself, travel to Richmond, Mo., for a traditional dinner at my in-laws’ house. We finish with competitive card games with Becky’s brother, Craig Holtzen of Louisburg, and his whole family, Michelle, Isabelle, Cade and Josh! Great fun for all!”

- Curtis Long, Edward Jones financial advisor in Paola

“My favorite Thanksgiving tradition began even before I was born! So for my entire life my family has sung “Bless This House O Lord We Pray” as our before-meal prayer on Thanksgiving Day. Sometimes my siblings and I have even called our grown children who could not attend that year just before we sang so that they could be a part of this special tradition. There is a verse that begins, ‘Bless these windows shining bright, letting in God’s heavenly light.’ My mother and sisters and I would beam with pride at that point because every autumn we had another tradition of washing all the windows, inside and out, prior to Thanksgiving. The song concludes with, ‘Bless the folk who dwell within, keep them pure and free from sin. Bless us all that we may be, fit O Lord, to dwell with Thee.’”

- Peg Wieland, Paola resident

“We wake up early and cook all day and eat our Thanksgiving meal in our dining room in front of Mike’s Christmas tree so that he is a part of our Thanksgiving dinner.”

- Melinda Pitzer, Sunflower Elementary fourth-grade teacher

“My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is leftovers and figuring out all the clever ways to eat turkey. The best way I have found is mixed with leftover vegetables and gravy in a turkey pot pie.”

- Gianna Gariglietti, Lakemary Center president

“The things that come to mind about traditions around Thanksgiving involve cooking... a lot. Then there is the baking division of homemade pies, cakes, delicious rolls that I have mastered and taken on all by myself for ages, and most of it done at the last minute ON Thanksgiving. But, that is what I like. And everyone eats, and no one complains.”

- Beth Conner, Holy Trinity School teacher and Republic columnist

“Our meal is entirely homemade, we always have my dad’s smoked ham and my mother-in-law’s homemade rolls. The time is spent with family.”

- Scott Golubski, Paola school board member

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

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