Thanksgiving is all about two things: people we love, and food. And usually the two of them go together on this particular holiday, which is even better. For me Thanksgiving has been one of the most “make it your own” holidays that I actually care to celebrate. I mean Christmas is Christmas so not so much make it your own, and Halloween and Easter will probably be bigger deals once we have kids, and I don’t really do anything for the fourth of July – just not that into fireworks and such, and they terrify our fur babies anyway.
But Thanksgiving is different. See, I don’t care about what it means historically because well, I’m not proud of it. I get it – world history is almost always about one culture conquering another, but it doesn’t make it right and it’s not like I want to buy a shirt that says, “Mayflower Pride!” But I also am not going to sit around and complain or point fingers either. I can’t go back in time and right the wrongs that I perceive. And unless I am writing a novel about just that (and for the record, I am not) why focus on it?
And the whole being thankful thing, yeah I am thankful for a lot. But I try to make sure I express that gratitude more than once a year, even as much as every day (it is actually a personal goal of mine, one that I track in Excel because I am that person). Last year I wrote a post dedicated to just what I am the most thankful for and the next post I have planned is going to be about all of the new things I am thankful for, not so much the big stuff (family, friends, my husband, my animals, my health, etc.) but the daily stuff. Because honestly, any idiot can handle a crisis, it is the day to day stuff that can wear you down. And it is the small things that put a smile on your face, that give you a nice hit of joy. So yeah, I’m going to focus on that this year. But anyway, Thanksgiving is not a day I see for being especially thankful. Because that is every day, or it really should be.
So for me, Thanksgiving is about being with people I care about. And of course all of that food!
This year we had Roy’s (my husband) brother, his wife and their three kids over, and we had a blast. It’s not like a big family to-do; I mean there are four adults and three kids ages one to four. But somehow we always end up with enough leftovers to feed a family of that size for a few weeks (even if it’s just the two of us). Roy has to make sweet potatoes, but I’m not really a fan, so I’ll have a small nibble and that will be it. I have to have green bean casserole, which is a big sentimental deal and I used to make it every year with my grandmother, who was more like a mother to me than anyone else in my life. It’s a tradition. But Roy hates mushrooms, so he won’t touch it. For some reason we always have mashed potatoes too. We both like mashed potatoes but we never need another dish, it just kind of happens. We also make apple and pear stuffing from scratch (the one side we both agree is a must) and then there is the main course. We have done turkey before, but we both prefer ham and that’s what we have done the last few years.
So this year we did all of that, but we also did a little extra this year. I wanted some variety in terms of glazes, even though I loved what my husband did last year. So we decided to do a few other “glazes” as side dipping sauces. We were originally going to do two, and then had a top three, but then both went back and forth on two more that caught our eye. Each one was different and either seemed like it would go wonderfully with the ham, and two didn’t seem like they would be bad, but were so interesting we couldn’t resist trying them. We made all five, not because we’re crazy or expected to need it all, but because we are that indecisive. Though I thought we were going to half the recipes and, well, that didn’t happen. Does anyone need some sauce for their leftovers? 😛
The day was nice and laidback. We didn’t make anything in advance, but had planned a cooking schedule and knew what to do and when, which is incredibly helpful (seriously a must when you’re doing multiple dishes for a family thing). It’s nice just relaxing and not stressing. We were both in and out of the kitchen, goofing around, laughing, teasing each other as we did this and that. The house is usually clean, but I tidied up and showered and Roy did the same, and even changed out a light bulb (this is a big deal because we are always at war with our darn lights).
Roy’s brother D, his wife J and their kids arrived and then the party started. We bought this race track, musical car set (I really don’t know how to describe it) for the kids (it is ages one through five so all of them could play with it 🙂 ) because we wanted them to have toys at our house, something to do and enjoy. Of course, putting it together was the fun part. The kids loved it and I swear they package those toys and large pieces as if they were weapons of some kind! Roy took his turn at the stove and finished up the last of the sauces and I helped with the toy, and by helped I mean I tried to free pieces that were taped down and then bracketed into something else. Thank God for scissors! That was the extent of my “help” because I am not handy at all – like not even a little bit. But thankfully D is and he put it together pretty quickly.
The twins (F and K, they’re four) loved it and took turns using the remote control car until it was time to eat (all right there were also a few pilgrimages up the stairs to see our on edge with an attitude kitty, who was already having a rough go of it since we’re dog sitting and she hates both dogs, but that’s her problem).
Dinner was great and after there was more play with the toy, the twins making nice with the animals (our dog is a lot better with them than the cat, you know like actually social, thank goodness) and we the adults got to visit when we weren’t helping the twins put on the three sheets (THREE FRICKING SHEETS!) of stickers for the toy set we got them. And then it was time for pie, which they brought, along with homemade whipped cream. I used to love Cool Whip because I did not know better, but they ruined me for that. 😛
After pie we visited some more, and they got ready to go. And you know what, it really was the perfect visit. It wasn’t rushed and it wasn’t stressful. The kids had fun and the adults got to chat. And we all got to eat, OMG did we eat. After pie, Roy and I joked with K after she told us she was full. “Oh, we’re full too,” we both said as was clutched our stomachs and wavered on our feet before falling over our sofa.
And now they’re gone, and we cleaned up (mostly) and the house still smells of all of those wonderful smells. And there are three things that come to mind as I sit down for the first time today (hey it was not a stressful day, but it was a very active and “in the kitchen” day).
- J left her container of whipped cream here. I saw it a few minutes after they left, when we started doing dishes. And I have to say, I’m grateful because now it’s ALL MINE! (My husband won’t deny me this, which is another thing to be grateful for. 😛 ) Next time we see them, I’ll make sure to return their container though.
- We really need to make more of an effort to see them. It is not intentional, but this month has been so incredibly nuts (my husband is at a new branch location, which is holding on by… well him, so he is always busy, and I am doing Nanowrimo, staying busy with work and upping my game on the publishing/submissions thing, and then there is the house and all that fun adult stuff that is light on the fun and heavy on the adult) but they live thirty minutes away (maybe forty, my husband and I always debate about this, but I am deferring him to him in this post as he is going to let me have all of the homemade whipped cream). I mean they’re busy too; they have three kids, and work and have all the same adult stuff we do and somehow they manage. I just feel that the last few months, while legitimately crazy… it is easy to become compliant with life’s craziness. And I don’t want that. So it’s a mental note to try to get out to their farm more or just do things with them on the weekend, check in etc. I mean we moved out here to be closer to them. So you would think this would be a no brainer?
- What are we going to do with all of this leftover food? OMG, it is so much more than I expected. We can’t even fit everything in our fridge. And I refer back to what we told K, “We are so full!”
And that was my Thanksgiving in a nutshell. My husband is currently sleeping it off and I am being all reflective. I think that is the one Thanksgiving tradition that always seems to stick no matter what. 😛
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of people they love and good food!