Thanksgiving Day, 1990: a 6-year-old girl woke up with an itch. The 6-year-old girl itched that itch beside her belly button. The 6-year-old girl soon discovered that itch wasn’t just any itch—it was chickenpox, compliments of her first-grade friends. And thus, a decade of the 90s Thanksgivings that dotted my childhood began. 

And they were the BEST. 

Remember Turkey Day in the 90s? Even if you weren’t quarantined with a highly contagious virus (read: all the TV and Jell-O I could have ever wanted), that fourth Thursday in November was one of the best days of the year. It was simple, it was fun, and it was the stuff our memories are made of.

Because for as great as it is to stuff your grown-up face with turkey and all the trimmings now, in the 90s, Thanksgiving was just better.

Here’s why:

1. We didn’t skip it.

I know, I know, putting up Christmas decorations early is good for your health, it’s festive, it’s your prerogative, blah blah blah. But you have to admit, in the 90s, we didn’t skip straight from Halloween to Christmas with quite the ferocity we do today. Is it the influence of online retailers? Maybe. Is it just that hindsight is most often viewed through suspiciously rose-colored glasses? Probably. But I don’t remember anyone heading out to shop at Target at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day in the 90s either, so I stand by my recollection. 

2. We saw family we hadn’t seen in months.

Before you say, “Duh, we still do this,” consider this: technology in the 90s wasn’t what it is now. We didn’t have iPhones or FaceTime or even webcams unless you owned a fancy computer and had something better than AOL. So we didn’t SEE our relatives who lived a state or two or 20 away unless it was, say, Thanksgiving. My grandparents used to roll up in their motorhome and park it in front of the yard, and I still remember how exciting it was to bound up those metal steps to greet them. There’s a reason they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all. 

3. Two words: TV specials.

Remember checking in with Jill and Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor and the rest of the fam (hello, JTT!) on Thanksgiving? Of course you do because, in the 90s, holiday specials and marathons of your favorite shows were the best.  Home Improvement . . . Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman . . . Touched By An Angel . . . Boy Meets World . . . Saved by the Bell. I know we binge on shows nowadays on streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, but there was something wonderful about parking yourself in front of the TV to watch episode after episode—commercials included—on a holiday. My dad and I used to watch the X-Files marathon on Thanksgiving, and I still associate that show with those days. I also still kind of miss Mulder and Scully. 

4. Mom broke out the fancy dishes.

We had a cabinet in the corner of the dining room I used to love opening on holidays. We’d pull out the fine china and crystal, polish the silver with the tub of Wright’s silver cream, and set the fancy table for the meal. My brothers and I would feel pretty grown-up drinking grape juice out of wine goblets, and it’s around the Thanksgiving table we learned tracing water around their delicate rims produced a satisfying whistle. Dining around a decked-out table was a special event, and it was always worth the wait. 

5. The FOOD.

Thanksgiving is still all about the food, of course, but back then? It was all about the food without a side of social media-fueled guilt. Plenty of people drank Slim-Fast and did Weight Watchers, but the 90s were mostly free of the obsessive diet fads that seem to be everywhere today. No one cared if mashed potatoes weren’t on the Keto diet—you plopped a healthy spoonful onto your plate and slathered it with butter like your life depended on it. There was green bean casserole, lefse with cinnamon and sugar, corn with butter and salt, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and brown sugar, stuffing, Mom’s homemade pan gravy, dinner rolls, that deliciously weird looks-like-the-can jellied cranberries, pumpkin pie . . . we ate it all, and we ate it all without dissecting it or running to Pinterest for post-Thanksgiving cleanse plans.

6. None of it was my responsibility.

The best thing about Thanksgiving in the 90s is simple: I was a kid, and life was less complicated then. I didn’t have to know what size turkey to buy, or figure out how many days in advance of that Thursday I needed to start it thawing, or deep clean my house before the in-laws showed up. I just lived in the best parts of it all, soaking up the moments that would become these fond memories once I got to the here and now. Childhood is so unavoidably short, and today I can see—and appreciate—just how much my parents did to make mine so happy and full, Thanksgivings included. 

It’s why even though I look back on Thanksgiving in the 90s with a heart full of nostalgia, that heart is full of appreciation, too, for what it is now. I have a family of my own, kids who are zooming through their own childhoods, and the honor of creating these moments all over again for the next generation.

It makes the 6-year-old girl still inside this 30-something woman so incredibly thankful. 

(And, gratefully, chickenpox-free.) 

Recommendations in this post contain affiliate links. Her View From Home may receive a small commission if you choose to purchase.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Carolyn Moore

Carolyn has served as Editor-in-Chief of Her View From Home since 2017. A long time ago, she worked in local TV news and fell in love with telling stories—something she feels grateful to help women do every day at HVFH. She lives in flyover country with her husband and five kids but is really meant to be by the ocean with a good book and a McDonald's fountain Coke. 

So God Made a Sunday School Teacher

In: Faith, Living
Woman sitting at table surrounded by kids in Sunday school class, color photo

God looked around at all He had created, and He knew He would need someone to teach His children. So God made a Sunday school teacher. God knew He needed someone with a heart and desire to teach children God’s word. God knew the children would act up and made Sunday school teachers with patience and grace to guide them when they step out of line in class. He also made Sunday school teachers with a touch of discretion to know when the stories of a child may be real or imagined. God knew this person would need to be...

Keep Reading

Here’s to the Friends Who Don’t Hide Their Messy Parts

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Two women sit in a field with arms around each other

To the friend who invited me over without picking her house up beforehand . . . thank you.  You had no way of knowing, but I’ve been especially weighed down by the feeling of “I can’t keep up” lately—and when I walked into your beautiful home and saw dishes in the sink and laundry scattered here and there, I let out the deepest exhale I didn’t even realize I was holding in.  Because seeing your mess? Your less-than-perfect? It didn’t make me think any differently of you, but it did allow me to give myself the grace I desperately needed....

Keep Reading

This Is a Mom’s Brain in the Middle of the Night

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman looking at smartphone in the middle of the night

Dear husband, let me introduce you to your wife, insomnia edition. You see me not sleeping. You see me “playing” on my phone. Here’s what my brain is actually doing . . .  It’s 2 a.m., I wake up thinking, “I need to make an appointment” (it can be as mundane and stupid as a haircut or more importantly, a specialist appointment for one of the kids). I try to go back to sleep, promising myself I will remember. Lying there, I tell myself I won’t forget. I will remember, don’t worry. Fifteen minutes go by . . . On...

Keep Reading

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

In: Grief, Living, Loss
Small dog with head hanging out car window, color photo

Our dog Carlos has slowed down considerably within the last few months. He’s always been outspoken and opinionated–a typical firstborn trait–and to hear him snoring most of the day and tolerating things he normally wouldn’t tolerate (i.e. being carried from place to place by my son, forklift-style) put me on notice that he’s in the fourth quarter. Carlos looks and acts like an Ewok from the Star Wars franchise. According to Wikipedia, Ewoks are clever, inquisitive, and inventive. Carlos checks all three boxes. As a puppy, we tried crate training, but it never took. It wasn’t for lack of trying....

Keep Reading

Her Future Will Not Be My Broken Past

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hold hands by water, silhouette photo

Forty years ago, you were an innocent child. You were brought into this world for a purpose. Your innocence is robbed before kindergarten by a trusted relative. You are broken and bruised by those entrusted to protect you. You are extremely emotional in your childhood, but no one listens to understand. As you grow into your teenage years, emotions are bottled up out of fear. You lean into promiscuous behavior because that is the only way you know how to get men to love you. Because of abuse that no one took you out of, you stay around those who...

Keep Reading

Mom’s Special Recipe Means More This Year

In: Grown Children, Living
Bowl full of breadcrumbs and celery, color photo

Three weeks before Easter, my family and I stood in the hallway talking to a team of doctors whom we had flagged down. We were anxiously inquiring about my mom, who was in the ICU on life support. We hadn’t been able to connect with the doctors for over 48 hours, so it was important for us to check in and see what was going on. The head doctor began discussing everything they had observed in the scans and what it meant for my mom’s quality of life. Every word made our hearts break. The doctor continued to talk about...

Keep Reading

I’m a Mom Who Reads and is Raising Readers

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom with infant daughter on bed, reading a book, color photo

Since childhood, I’ve been lost in a world of books. My first true memory of falling in love with a book was when my mom read aloud Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With each voice she used, I fell deep into the world of imagination, and I’ve never seemed to come up for air. My reading journey has ebbed and flowed as my life has gone through different seasons, but I’ve always seemed to carry a book with me wherever I went. When I entered motherhood and gave my whole life over to my kids, I needed something that...

Keep Reading

You Have to Feel before You Can Heal

In: Living
Depressed woman in bed

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.” -Cheryl Strayed How do you heal? You let the pain pass through you. You feel your feelings....

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed Other Mothers

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Two mom friends smiling at each other

I read somewhere the other day that when a child is born, a parent is too. In my first few months being a mother, I’m learning just how odd that sentiment is. In an instant, I became someone new. Not only that, but I became part of a group I didn’t realize existed. That sounds wrong. Of course, mothers existed. But this community of mothers? I had no idea. It took us a long time to get where we are today. Throughout our journey with infertility, I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mother. I knew that...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading