3 rookie mistakes parents make on Thanksgiving

When I was 8 months pregnant with my first child, my husband and I watched movies and ate for three days straight. It was so much fun that I declared it our new Thanksgiving family tradition.

Parents sitting? Eating? Watching movies?* It was the naive declaration only a childless woman would make.  

To prevent other parents from Thanksgiving delusions, here are common pitfalls new parents make:

1. You tell your kids Thanksgiving will be fun. Thanksgiving is not a kid holiday. Children don’t look forward to sitting politely through a four-hour meal consisting of indistinguishable blobs suffocating in gravy.  There aren’t even any fun gimmicks. Thanksgiving has somehow flown under the commercialism radar.

There’s no Thanksgiving candy. No turkey-shaped chocolates with nougat up the rump to simulate stuffing. No Mayflower-shaped Chuckles. No Tootsie Roll snuff pipes.

There’s no Thanksgiving mascot to win kids’ hearts and adorn all conceivable consumer goods. No Harvesty Hal, the enchanted pilgrim who stuffs popcorn under good children’s mattresses at midnight. No Squanto on the Shelf who scrutinizes everyone’s behavior. And even if there were, who cares? Kids aren’t getting any gifts for Thanksgiving no matter how they behave, except for “gifts of bounty,” and who wants that junk? Even socks are better.

The sooner your kids understand that Thanksgiving is lame, the less they will complain.

2. Having to breastfeed during Thanksgiving isn’t a burden. It’s your friend. When your “foodie” aunt brings antelope and oyster stuffing topped with cumin butter, you can politely decline, saying that your doctor told you cumin will irreparably damage your milk ducts. What are your relatives going to do, argue? They don’t want to talk about your breast milk any more than you do.

3. You don’t host. It may seem easier to be a guest, but hosting is your chance to get a break and have time to yourself. If you cook, everyone will watch your children because there are few things people care more about than the sanctity of their Thanksgiving dinners. They’ll make sure your kitchen is as secure and controlled as a space station, lest any rogue interruptions distract you and compromise the integrity of their marshmallow squash casserole.

Enjoy the peace in the kitchen. Drink. Stare into space. Watch reruns of Dawson’s Creek on your iPhone. And, by all means, eat while you cook, because you won’t get dinner. As soon as your bottom hits the dining room chair, one of your children will cry about something. You’re done cooking now, so no one’s going to help. Happy Thanksgiving!


*Now that my three kids are older, I valiantly tried to watch “American Hustle” on Netflix.  It took me four days.  Watching it in child-interrupted bits got me so confused that, one night, I wondered for 20 minutes why Bradley Cooper was kissing Minnie Mouse in a cartoon car. I finally realized I’d never loaded it and was watching the Disney channel.

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About Erica June Ford, Bundoo Blogger

Erica Ford is a writer, editor, and host of the Boston radio show South Shore Live.  Her humorous essays about parenthood have been featured in The Huffington Post, the New York Times, and her popular blog Mommy Klatch. She is the author of Scotch Tape is Cheaper Than Botox.

Erica completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, received her law degree from Boston College, and practiced law in Boston for several years. Aside from her three daughters, the highlight of Erica’s life was when Oprah Winfrey asked her to read her writing onstage at the Life You Want conference in 2014.


  1. We try to make Thanksgiving fun for our kids. We go out of town to visit family, which my girls loves. This year we had the kids make centerpieces for the tables as well as little feather headbands to wear. They also made pine cone turkeys (can you tell my family is full of teachers). 🙂 Overall, I think all of the kids had a great Thanksgiving!

  2. This will be good info once my little man is older!


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