One of the most endearing aspects of Thanksgiving is the tradition behind the holiday that each person holds close to their heart. My Thanksgiving may look different from your Thanksgiving, but there is a common bond of tradition, which ties us together this season. Some customs change and adapt as our families forever grow, bend and ebb, but then there are those sacred sacraments we wouldn’t dare change.

One of those rituals I hold near and dear to my heart cannot be savored in the way you would customarily think of during Thanksgiving time. It takes place right before the feast. My entire family grabs the hand of the person next to them and forms a massive, irregular circle around the kitchen island, where all the fixins’ are sitting; piping hot, ready to be devoured. Spicy dirty rice, perfectly smoked turkey, sweet potatoes crowned with glorious toasted marshmallows, steaming buttery yeast rolls, and buckets of sweet tea line the buffet.

My grandfather gazes lovingly at the circle and whispers, “Thank you, Jesus!” My grandmother sweetly squeezes his hand and quickly concurs with, “Praise the Lord!” This is such a special moment. It is their personal way of giving thanks before the official prayer. They recognize this oddly formed circle, which is weaving dangerously close to the laundry room, is a direct extension of themselves and the gathering of everyone for Thanksgiving means more to them than anything being served that day. I peak around at the crowd as my grandfather continues to pray, take in this moment in time and give thanks for being part of each other’s lives. As we end in prayer, we gather around the kitchen island and pile on as much fodder as our Chinet plates can hold. I sit around the table and eat and eat and eat for what seems like days, but the prayer always seems to be over far too soon.

No matter what these holidays bring, let the old traditions shine and adopt new ones every year, as we watch our families grow and meld together as a community of people. I pray your Thanksgiving is filled with love, family and fullness in your tummy and in your heart!

About the Author

Amber Wilson was raised in Cajun Country, experienced the boldness of Texas fare, tasted the light cuisine in Florida, plunged her fork into the various influences in Alabama, and is now enjoying the harmonious city of Nashville. She grew up in the small town of Lake Charles, Louisiana, where the women in her family taught of the importance of Cajun heritage and, of course, Cajun cuisine. She can be found sharing her Southern food and memories writing at For the Love of the South.

Amber is one of our food bloggers for The Opener, an exclusive, invite-only contributor network that will bring the best food, culture, and innovation writing to the pages of Coca-Cola Journey.



  • 1/2 Cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup local honey
  • 2 Tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 Teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 Sprig thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Pound golden raisins


  • Total Time: 15 min
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  1. Bring vinegar, honey, mustard seeds, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, thyme sprigs, salt and 1 cup of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Reduce the heat to simmer and stir for 3 minutes. Add raisins, remove from heat and let cool for at least 1 hour. Make Ahead: Raisins can be pickled 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Note: Normally, I make a cranberry sauce to go with the bird and all the fixins’, but this year I wanted to bring a new tradition to the table of spicy pickled golden raisins to take the place of the cranberries. The raisins plump as they are reconstituted and absorb all of the wonderful spices. They complement the flavor of chicken, turkey or duck.