Thanksgiving has recently passed, I realize. But I thought I would take this post to share a little bit about our “traditional” Thanksgiving meal. Most families have hand-me-down recipes from previous generations that are brought out, prepared and celebrated at Thanksgiving.
These shared recipes form traditions that cousins, aunts, uncles and kids cherish and look forward to each year. Sometimes a special heirloom serving piece is part of the meal; Aunt Marjorie’s stuffing always displayed and passed around the table in the Lenox China bowl, served with a large, filigree-design silver plated spoon. This is how my parents ate at Thanksgiving. And this is how I was raised. My mom even fixed a small bowl of oyster dressing because, well, she just always did. My dad liked it and so she fixed it. Never mind that he was the only one who really enjoyed it.. She also made peas with pearl onions which luckily, we four kids were not obligated to eat. Most of the time, our family got together with my Grandmother, Grandfather, Great Aunt and Uncle. Everyone contributed their favorite dish so there was literally a buffet to choose from. The amount of pre-meal prep was amazing. The mess in the kitchen was overwhelming ! The aroma of the meal cooking was nothing short of awesome. Then the meal itself; well, it was everything you hoped for ! Buttery corn, creamy gravy, hot rolls, fluffy stuffing and of course, the honey-colored turkey with its tendrils of steam wafting up as the man-of-the-house carved the meat.
Then the aftermath~ clearing the table, dividing the leftovers equally for the various households, brushing crumbs off of the tablecloth into your hand. And the dishes; the sheer number of crooked stacked breakables was intimidating, yet somehow it all got washed, dried, stacked and put away. The numerous take-home containers managed to be squeezed into the frig and the wet dish towels hung limp on a towel hook. Everyone waddled into the Living Room to watch a game on tv, play cribbage or listen to the radio while trying to stay awake in spite of our calorie-overload.
Keep in mind, the desserts were still waiting in the Dining Room or Kitchen for us to attack when we had room in our tummies. There was always (always) pumpkin pie. Sometimes pumpkin bread as well. If I was lucky, there was also a cherry pie and usually cookies and ice cream. As a special treat, soda might be offered in some form (root beer float, chocolate coke, 7-up with grenadine syrup). We really knew how to serve desserts :)
Fast forward to my own little family; Hubby Rick, and I plus 4 kids. Naturally, since Rick’s Thanksgiving traditions were pretty much in line with mine, we raised our kids the same way. Turkey, stuffing, corn, visiting relatives, leftovers.
We moved across the country. Yep; job transfer. Left Southern California, arrived in Northern Indiana in September. Kids were ages: 13, 11, 8 and almost 6. We had lived in the same place with the same friends for 11 years -or literally as long as they could remember. We left a fun, familiar house and a passel of close friends. It was “the great adventure” and scary at the same time. We knew no one in Indiana..except each other. We connected with a home school group and a church asap. Yet as Thanksgiving approached, we were on our own.
A discussion of Thanksgiving grocery shopping turned into a mutiny. This is what the kids expressed: Why have turkey ? It’s nothing new; we have it on days when it’s not Thanksgiving. Fancy plates ? We’ve barely unpacked essentials so far here. Decor ? No company coming. Nowhere to go; heavy snow on the ground already. No friends to invite over. Who wants leftovers, anyway ?
To our surprise, the kids took over. THIS is what they wanted: their/our own new traditions in our new home.
Okay, we said, Like what ?
They mulled it over: “Pizza. For Thanksgiving. We’re doing our own thing starting now.”
So that’s what we did. And continue to do since 1996. Everybody has a say in the meal, plans for the day and even decides which day we celebrate it on :) We have enjoyed games and movies with Tacos and friends. Sometimes we do the big meal for lunch instead of dinner… Chinese food, bacon, spaghetti, pizza of course, and anything else that is NOT considered ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving fare. And you know what ? It’s been fantastic. Really :) We carved a niche for ourselves in our new home. We took a stand as a family and created our own ‘thing’. I love it !
Oh, and that first non-traditional Thanksgiving ? Before we ate, we sat down together and I asked that we go around the table, each one saying something they were especially thankful for that year. The first child stated, “I’m thankful we’re not having TURKEY.”