Seven Reasons Why Thanksgiving Was Just Better in the ’80s

Growing up in the ‘80s was sweet for many reasons. But, I think most of us Gen-Xers can agree that one of the best parts about growing up when we did was how the holidays played out. Especially Thanksgiving.

School got out, and we’d look forward to the days ahead of feasting and partying. So many fun holidays came on the heels of Thanksgiving that this marked the beginning of the family celebrations.

Sure food tasted better and seemed more special when we were younger, but there was a lot more to be said for Thanksgiving in the ‘80s. And I’m not just talking about smelling pies cooking (that we didn’t have to make) for days, but yes, so much that.

Thanksgiving dinner
Here is why I LOVED Thanksgiving in the 80s. (Twenty20 @beachbumledford)

Seven Things That Made Thanksgiving in the 80’s the Best

1. There Were No Cellphones. We connected on a different level and people were more present. Even if we were in front of the television watching football or the parade, we looked at each other more. We got engrossed in cards or a game of our own outside.

We talked more. We weren’t busy updating our social media platforms with our epic meal or family gathering. We took a walk in the woods to make room for seconds or thirds instead of watching funny cat videos.

2. No-one Counted Carbs. There wasn’t a lot of eliminating certain food groups back in those days. Thanksgiving was a time to indulge, nap, then indulge again. We were blissfully unaware that gluten expanded our waist line, and Celiac disease wasn’t as prevalent allowing more people to free their minds and eat what they wanted while staying comfortable. People cared more about stuffing themselves with Nana’s recipes than the latest diet trend.

3. Remembering Our Parents And Grand Parents Prepare The Feast. Even if we weren’t a fan of some of the things they made, there was more of a sense of slowing down and taking the time to prepare the food.

4. Thanksgiving dinner was a labor of love because we had more time. So many of us have memories of relatives coming over the night before the feast, or early in the morning to make the stuffing, or prepare the bird. It seems to have a been a tradition that has disappeared for so many families because kids’ activities and sports and overall life duties have taken over our time.

5. The Food. Green bean casserole is the best when all the ingredients came out of a can which is frowned upon these days because we actually know what’s in all those cans. I mean, I still serve it but it comes with a side of guilt. Ambrosia, jello molds, and fruit salads made mostly out of canned fruit and cool whip seemed to have taken a backseat, or have been demoted to the dessert table.

And what about the crescent rolls from a can? Even if you didn’t like creamed onions, or hated how your mother made you taste some of the mashed turnip, when you see or hear about these dishes, it sparks the memory of the person who used to make them. And it makes you feel tingly and nostalgic remembering who you were back then.

6. We Didn’t Have To Do Any Of The Work. Let’s face it. Most of us were kids in the ’80s who only had to show up, eat, have fun with our cousins and friends while browsing through a Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogue. We didn’t have to mentally prepare ourselves to spend time with certain people, we could just move to a different room.

The menu wasn’t on our chore to take on. And we didn’t have to make sure we timed it so the mashed potatoes were ready when the turkey was done. At most, we’d lend a hand with the clean up and return to our childish activities. It was magical.

7. Stores Were Closed And Black Friday Wasn’t On Steroids. There was no rushing from the table to stand in lines to make sure we got the $200-off phone deal. People didn’t schedule the feast around shopping until they dropped. And if you had a job in retail, you were guaranteed a day off to be with family, friends, and food.

If you ask me, we could use a little ‘80s Thanksgiving in our lives. Even if you didn’t like the jello molds or watching football, chances are you still miss those days and the way you felt around this time of year. Perhaps including some of the old traditions, recipes, and scaling back on the shopping and cellphone usage could be the recipe for the perfectly balanced Thanksgiving.

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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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