In just a few short hours, a weekend filled with family, long held traditions and a lot of food will begin. For everyone other than the person doing all the cooking, it is the most relaxing of all the holidays. There’s no frenzy to find the perfect gift for each of your thirty-six relatives, no religious rituals where you can’t eat certain foods or anything at all for a whole day, and there’s no stress to get yourself and the children dressed and ready to get to church for an early morning service. There’s just food—hanging around whichever house you’ll be at and eating all day long. That being said, everyone seems to have their own traditions and rituals on Thanksgiving. For many, it’s either watching football or organizing a backyard football game—or both. Others tell me it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving unless they went to the Macy’s Parade. Some families dress in their best attire to sit around the table and other have a pajama only policy. Hey! Whatever works for you.
Our Thanksgiving evolved over the years. We start with brunch, because eating for the rest of the day isn’t enough. I usually make blueberry crepes and Belgium liege waffles. My brother-in-law brings over jelly donuts just in case he needs more carbs than I’m already feeding him. But the real reason is that my husband has a particular technique on preparing and eating a jelly donut and it’s the highlight of Uncle Scotty’s morning to watch and make fun of him. Most people bite into a donut and call it a day. Not my husband. Ray has to slice it in half so he can spread the jelly equally throughout the donut.
Anyway, after brunch we put on the parade and the girls make a food project. They have been doing this since they were little. It’s a pretty big deal for me to give up my kitchen for an hour or more, but like I said, it’s a chilled out holiday. The important thing is to enjoy the moments, right?
I’m cooking for nineteen this year. I have two filet mignons and a twenty-two pound turkey ready to go. Have I mentioned that I hate turkey? And the thought of sticking my hand in one is not at all appealing, which is how the brunch tradition started. Scott loves turkey, loves cooking turkey and loves to get involved with the whole preparation. It actually became a joke in our family. One year I told Scott, “Let me take a picture of you kissing your turkey.” Every year I took the same picture of Ray and Scott kissing the turkey. Someday I’m going to make a collage of the “turkey kissing years” for them. They can see how they’ve aged over time. I’m so evil.
The first year we had Thanksgiving in our home, Ray and I put on rubber gloves to clean out the turkey cavity. After that, Scott offered to come and do it and we took him up on it. When the kids came along, we started the food project to keep them occupied. 28 years later, they still are doing it and don’t want to give it up.
After dinner when everyone but my sister and her family leaves, we get comfortable, put on the fireplace and watch a Christmas movie to kick off the season. And at some point raid the fridge for leftovers.
Well, That’s just one day of ritual with a whole weekend to come. I can assure you what we will not be doing. We will not be near a mall.
Whatever your family traditions, I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. I’m not sharing a recipe today. By now, you have your menu set. Sharing stories about family and food is a recipe for a happy life. Stay safe and don’t forget to be thankful.