Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. My heart immediately seized when I typed that because Christmas! Halloween! Easter! but hear me out: Thanksgiving is full of all the traditions I love. The gravy boats shaped like turkeys and the sparkly pumpkin centerpieces and that giant roast turkey — but you know that when Thanksgiving is over, another holiday is coming, and it's like the middle anticipatory bite of a really good sandwich. There is still more to come, but this is the sweet, spot, and these vintage Thanksgiving photos prove that this feeling has always been there.
From suits at the dinner table on tiny little children to mothers posing with their beautiful roast turkeys, these vintage photos, ranging from the 1950s to current day, just exude family and gathering and good, warm feelings. At our own family Thanksgivings, I make sure there are tons of photos taken so one day — when they're considered vintage — my girls can pull them out and talk about how excited I look to be serving stuffing and cranberry sauce or how our kitchen looks so different than it did then. There is just something homey and cozy about these vintage Thanksgiving photos, and I'm thrilled to pull them together in the ultimate walk down memory lane.
1 Thanksgiving Is Peak Grandparent Memories H. Armstrong Roberts/Getty
Is there anything more perfect than the turkey Grandma pulls out of the oven? Everything about this 1950s photo of two grandparents showing off their Thanksgiving bird to their grandchildren is perfect.
2 A Quintessential Norman Rockwell Moment Harold M. Lambert/Archive Photos/Getty Images
A father carving the turkey as his adoring family looks on is about as quintessential 1950s Thanksgiving as you can get. (My husband carves the turkey, but he cusses the whole time he does it.)
3 Children Of The Cornucopia H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
I... I don't understand. This color photo from the 1960s looks... posed. Did we used to do this? Dress our children as puritans and have them pose in a pile of gourds? And if we did, then my goodness, why did we stop? I need this photo made with my own girls.
4 A Vintage Thanksgiving Spread ClassicStock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Do you remember dark wood trim? And paneling? Truly, nothing feels darker than photos like this one from the 1980s, but I also love the red candle sticks and that polyester? wool? yellow vest? tunic? the patriarch of the family is sporting. (Also, plants are not a millennial thing, and this photo proves it.)
5 When Turkeys Used To Wear Shoes H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Did people used to make these? Was the point so the ends didn't get burned in the oven? But then, didn't the paper burn? I have so many questions about the little fringe booties we used to put on our roast turkeys, you guys.
6 Well, This Seems Very Hygienic H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Why let the children lay around playing games and reading books while you slave over dinner? In the 1950s, we apparently gave children a bowl of moist bread crumbs and a bird and said, "STUFF IT ALREADY." (That turkey absolutely tastes like strep throat.)
7 Picture Perfect Children FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images
The act of dressing little boys (and men) in suits for Thanksgiving dinner needs to come back, you guys. And a big glass of milk, and giant fall foliage in vases, and cherry tomatoes and lettuce surrounding our turkey. Let's please bring it
all back. 8 Now That's How You Baste A Turkey Historical/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
Ah, that age-old fight between brining and basting a turkey is put to rest with this giant kettle in the 1940s. First of all, that turkey is enormous (I cook two of these for my entire family), and second of all, this woman is a genius. Why fuss with some plastic syringe thing with a giant bulb on the end when you can just use your kettle?
9 Generations Of Thanksgiving Kirn Vintage Stock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
I love a sweet candid shot, and I love one of all the women in aprons, proudly showing off their turkey. The kid smiling slyly nearby is just perfect. (And can we bring back red candles?)
10 The School Thanksgiving Lunch Portland Press Herald/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images
Every person remembers dressing as a pilgrim and eating rolls and green beans at their elementary school lunch before getting out for Thanksgiving break, right? I can
feel this photo, can practically taste the rolls and feel the hat on my head. 11 The Turkey's Perspective Bettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images
I am 100% obsessed with this turkey's perspective of the family praying as they wait for the skin to get extra crispy.
12 The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Bettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images
In 1959, this incredible "spaceman" balloon flew down the streets of New York City, and I just love it. I can't help but wonder if this was everyone getting amped up about NASA and the trip to the moon in just 10 years, and I love that it was a Thanksgiving moment.
13 A Family Portrait H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
I just had an early Thanksgiving dinner with my family where I roasted a beautiful turkey, and I can not
believe I didn't make my family pose with it like this. 14 More Pie, Please Historical/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
This is exactly what a Thanksgiving dessert table should look like, and I'm glad this is one tradition that's hung around.
15 Good Eating, Mr. President! Photo 12/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
This photo of President John F. Kennedy pardoning a turkey in 1962 is one of many iconic photos of presidents pardoning turkeys on Thanksgiving. It's such a wacky-sounding tradition, but golly, I love it.
16 Tickle Me Elmo Mayhem The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images
OK, so technically this isn't a Thanksgiving photo, but imagine Black Friday 1996 with all of these Tickle Me Elmos getting yanked off the shelves. It's not Thanksgiving until there's a deal somewhere.
17 Three Generations H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
There are few things I love more than sharing holiday traditions with my girls — traditions I learned from my mom and grandparents — and this photo is just lovely.
18 Gourds & Pumpkins Are Forever American Stock Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Truly, I think this might be the exact tablescape I had, except my pumpkins were glittery and from Target. (Also, my kids looked this excited about the turkey, too.)
19 Side Eye H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Again with the suit and tie at the Thanksgiving table, I love it so much. Also the way this kid is side-eyeing the turkey makes me wonder if he was treated like my kids were as I prepped for Thanksgiving — "just eat a banana, I'm cooking, we'll eat real food LATER." He looks hungry.
20 The Perfect Turkey H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
I love the oven in this photo, I love the roasting pan, I love the dress, and I love knowing that I'm now in this special group of women doing all the incredible behind-the-scenes work to make Thanksgiving such a joyful day.