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Photo: Sarah Crowder/AP, License: N/A, Created: 2017:10:17 14:55:10

KATIE WORKMAN / ASSOCIATED PRESS Sharing a meal with family and friends is the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving traditions.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2005:11:23 04:46:23

Sharing a meal with family and friends is the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving traditions.

Every November, on the fourth Thursday of the month, the nation celebrates Thanksgiving. It began all the way back in 1621 when early settlers broke bread with the natives to give thanks and celebrate their bountiful harvest. It’s 2018 and the Thanksgiving holiday is still celebrated with many family traditions, including football, family and of course the feast.

Thanksgiving is such an important holiday in the United States because it revolves around years-old traditions. Whether it’s cooking a special dish with your grandmother, watching the football games or even playing an annual football game, the holiday centers around those traditions.

Michael Hill, of Pittston, and his friends host an annual football game every year on Thanksgiving, named the Turkey Bowl.

“It’s an annual tradition at this point,” Hill said. “It started off as just a small game of touch football with a few guys from work. Then the guys invited their old high school football teammates and it just kept growing and growing.”

“Now, I couldn’t imagine having a Thanksgiving holiday without playing the Turkey Bowl first, and this year that trophy is mine,” Hill added.

Another tradition many people look forward to are the Thanksgiving Day parades. One of the most famous parades is the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade began in 1924 and is one of the largest and most popular parades during the year. It takes place in New York City, stretches 2.5 miles long and attracts people from all over the nation. Those who can’t make it to the parade very much look forward to watching it on television.

Katie Nardone started watching the parade when she was a child, with her grandmother.

“I absolutely loved watching the parade because I got to see my favorite cartoon characters, like the Rugrats, as these gigantic balloons,” Nardone said. “I just thought it was so neat how such big balloons in the shape of characters just floated through the air, almost like they were flying.”

Nardone is very excited this holiday as it is her first Thanksgiving since moving back home to Pittston.

“I was born and raised in Pittston,” Nardone said. “And unfortunately, I had to move away for a few years due to my job. But, I am back now and I can’t even put into words how excited I am to just be with my family. I love that I’ll get to watch the parade with them, help them cook dinner, eat with them and of course just spend time with them.”

One very important Thanksgiving tradition is spending time with family. Bettyann Silvanage, of Dupont, has always been a family woman while also having a full-time career. Now, however, she has retired and her family has grown and have children of their own. She said she makes time to travel wherever they are to keep their family traditions alive. While the location of the family’s dinner may change from year to year, one thing Silvanage always brings is her famous Irish soda bread stuffing.

“All of my grandkids are away at school. And this is the first year that not one of them is local. So, of course I’m looking forward to seeing all my grandbabies,” she said. “It is always a delight when I get to see them and hear about what they’re learning, how they’re growing and where life is taking them.”

“And of course, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without my Irish soda bread stuffing. The recipe has been in my family for generations and it’s everyone’s favorite. It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it. Trust me, I would have a lot of angry family members on my hands if I didn’t bring my stuffing,” Silvanage joked.

That is the beauty of Thanksgiving traditions, they bring people, family and friends together from all walks of life. It could be a game of football, a certain type of food, spending time with your family or even getting ready to shop — all these traditions are a part of the holiday.

Cali Nataloni, of Pittston, and her sister, Ivy, are only two years apart and during the holiday, they look forward to shopping every year to get in on all of the early Black Friday deals.

“Every year I take my daughter Amelia or Meelz, as I like to call her, to her Aunt Ivy’s house for Thanksgiving,” Nataloni said. “Meelz gets to hang out with her cousin, Ivy’s son, Oliver, while Ivy and I cook in the kitchen, listening to Christmas music. We usually eat, relax and take a little nap. Once we are up we get to go shopping, which is my favorite part,” Nataloni exclaimed.

“We used to have to wait until then next day, Black Friday, to go shopping,” Nataloni said. “But, now that stores open on the night of Thanksgiving, it’s now our annual tradition to get started a little bit early and go the night of Thanksgiving as well as Black Friday. Holiday shopping is my therapy,” Nataloni said.

So, no matter how big or small a family may be and whether they are near or far, the Thanksgiving holiday brings families together and the traditions formed over the years keep them together. Whatever your family tradition, happy Thanksgiving.

nrossi@pittstonprogress.com