The Perfect Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie


There is something about Thanksgiving. The time with family, the theme of gratitude, the aroma of cinnamon and cloves from fresh pie, the delicious food and the bounty of laughter. It is one of my favorite holidays (besides my disdain for turkey and mashed potatoes – I know I am an anomaly on that). But, there is one thing in particular that always makes my Thanksgiving perfect, and that is the perfect pumpkin pie. 

It’s Not About the Recipe

If you opened this link to get a recipe for a delicious pumpkin pie, I am sorry but you won’t find that here. (Although I will say, a crucial element of the perfect pie is a homemade crust – it makes all the difference!) It is not about the taste of the pie; it is about the memories that went into making it. The reason that pumpkin pie is such an integral part of my Thanksgiving is because of its role in the Thanksgiving tradition for my family. 

A Family Tradition

For as long as I can remember, the day before Thanksgiving, my mom would make pies. She has amazingly delicious pies, and because both her and my dad have large extended families, there were often 4 or more pies being made. When it comes to her pies, my mom is a bit of a perfectionist. The crust has to be just right. This perfectionist attitude has resulted in more than one pie crust being thrown into the air in frustration. This, then, resulted in fits of laughter from my sister and I. And this is just one of the many memories I have of pie-making.

When we were really little, my mom would give my sister and I the extra pie crust to play with and roll out ourselves. As we grew, we were able to mix up the pumpkin filling. As we grew older still, we learned to make the crust. And always, there was lots of laughter and lots of great conversations. It wasn’t important whether or not the pie turned out perfect (though it almost always did), it was about the memory of coming together to make pies for our celebration the next day. It was about the tradition of pie-making. 

Continuing the Tradition 

As we got older and grew up, we continued the tradition of pie making. My mom taught us how to make our own crusts, and has fielded endless conversations over the phone about why they aren’t turning out. My sister and brother live in Seattle now with their families, and when my parents go to Seattle for Thanksgiving, I always smile knowing my mom and sister are working together to get their pumpkin pie made. 

I, too, am working to establish the tradition with my sons. It was a wonderful feeling last year when my then three year-old joined me for pie-making. I happily passed him the pie crust scraps, which he thoroughly enjoyed rolling out. It felt good knowing that my own children would get to experience this honored Thanksgiving tradition.

I haven’t quite perfected the pumpkin pie yet. I’m confident I will get there with time. But, every year as Thanksgiving approaches, I think fondly of all my memories of pie making, and it brings me great joy.  To me, our family’s pumpkin pie tradition is what makes this holiday so special, and it is one of the many reasons I am grateful this Thanksgiving: for good food, for laughter, for family, for my mom. 

Do you have a family tradition for Thanksgiving? What is it? Feel free to comment below. If you don’t have one, it’s never too late to start! If I could make a suggestion, pie-making seems like the perfect first step. Lots of laughter, lots of memories, and a house that smells of cinnamon and cloves.