Traditions: Eat. Thanks. Love.

The gravy on top of a great holiday meal? A tradition that helps you remember what matters. Consider these, from lifestyle gurus, famous foodies, and the Oz family (of course!).

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Alison Sweeney

"We always include the kids in our tradition of saying what we're thankful for — nothing is too silly or simple. My daughter has announced she's grateful for my husband scratching her back at night. My son once said, 'I'm grateful for toilets,' then asked to be excused to use one! They're always good for the unexpected." —Sweeney is the star and a co-executive producer of Murder, She Baked, out this month on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

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Jacques Pépin

"Instead of a prayer, we do a toast — to friendship, to enjoying life, to the bounty of nature. And we always play music. I like classical, but often it's going to be Frank Sinatra for my wife. 'Strangers in the Night' is our song. I've been in the U.S. for over half a century, and Thanksgiving is my best holiday — just gathering, eating, and drinking!" —Pépin is a world-renowned chef

Alana Chernila

"My family has an 'Appreciations Box.' The kids decorate it while I'm cooking, and we put it on the side table with pens and slips of paper. When guests arrive, they fill them out with whatever they're grateful for. Before the meal, we pass the box around and read the notes anonymously." —Chernila is a food blogger and the author of The Homemade Kitchen

Nate Berkus

"There is one new ritual I'm excited about this year: breaking out a high chair at the table, for our daughter's first Thanksgiving. There will be the usual traditions, too: We'll all line up for food, stuff ourselves, and head right back for seconds. But it isn't all about eating. Sometimes we jot down memories of things that affected us over the past year, drop them in a bowl, and have family members pick a memory to read off. With the birth of our daughter, I have this year's Best Memory covered." —Berkus, the new father of Poppy, is an interior designer and the author of Home Rules and The Things That Matter

Lauren Von Der Pool

"After the meal we put on calypso music and reggae, and we dance. In our family, dancing is a way of cele brating our thankfulness. My great-grandmother is the person who taught me how to 'whine' — it's a typical dance in the Caribbean Islands, and it's all with your hips. By the end of the night, someone has spiked the green juice I always make, which usually has some fresh pineapple, Fuji apples, kale, ginger, lime, lemon, and cucumber milk (almond or coconut milk with cucumber juice and agave nectar — it gives the juice an eggnog feel!). Someone adds in rum, and everybody dances up a storm. It's a beautiful time for us." —Von Der Pool is a celebrity chef and the author of Eat Yourself Sexy

Lisa Oz

"Expressing thanks means sharing our blessings. It's our Oz family tradition to give meals to HealthCorps families; that's the organization we cofounded to teach high schoolers in underserved communities about health and, yes, happiness. But giving in this way always makes me happier — I feel like our holiday table is that much bigger." —Oz is the author of The Oz Family Kitchen and the wife of our favorite doctor!

Duff Goldman

"When we sit down for Thanksgiving, we're usually there for four or five hours; that's not an exaggeration. We are a very talky family, sharing things we're happy about and not so happy about. It's all about reminding each other what's going on in our lives, what we're struggling with, and getting support — but also giving it." —Goldman is a pastry chef and the star of Ace of Cakes

Bobby Flay

"Most Thanksgivings I choose a theme, and I'll try to incorporate something significant that happened that year. After 9/11, I did a New York-themed Thanksgiving with a lot of local ingredients from farms in the Hudson Valley. When Hurricane Katrina hit, I made a New Orleans Thanksgiving. Before we sit down to eat, I put all the dishes out, and I describe the food, like the Cajun-spiced turkey, so people know what they are eating, and why. We take a moment to think about the people who have had a tough time that year. It's like you just push the pause button on the football game and the gluttony, and acknowledge what's happening in the world and how much you have to be thankful for." —Flay is a celebrity chef and restaurant owner


This story originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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