When I was little, every major holiday was at my maternal grandmother’s house. I loved having that constant in my life. My family is fractured now and some holidays, we’re trying to visit 3 different houses. It’s crazy. So, I want to be sure that my kids have some stable, solid holiday traditions.
My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is one we started 3 Thanksgivings ago. We do a 5k as a family. It’s just a nice way to start Thanksgiving Day.
Last year I decided I wanted to have my own Thanksgiving dinner. I used to host holidays for my side of the family, but in recent years, we have gotten away from that. So, I have a small guest list of the black sheep family members and we gather for my Day After Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Dinner. And I love it. I get to give my kids another stable tradition, I get to see family members I love and don’t see often, and I get to cook for them. I love to cook for people whom I love.
It’s fun but it’s also a ton of work.
I started three days before by putting my thawed turkey in my brining solution.
Two days before, we put up the tree, cleaned the house from top to bottom, and made the bread to dry (for stuffing, bread pudding, and meatballs).
Thanksgiving morning, after our run/walk (the Monkey King will have to train with me next year so that he can run), I made my cheesecake, cornmeal honey bread, stuffing, sweet potato puree, sweet potato bread pudding, ricotta meatballs, and French bread.
The day of my dinner, I wrote out my Christmas cards, made my turkey, green beans, pasta sauce, and mashed potatoes. By spacing it out, it was much more manageable. One of my biggest problems is that I get anxious and make everything early and struggle to keep it warm. I only have a regular oven which is not nearly enough space to keep all these different dishes warm. This year I thought I’d be slick and wait but that backfired. I was so behind that when my husband came home from work, he jumped in and started taking over some dishes. With the extra table in the kitchen and so many things going, there was no room. I had the crockpot on the counter with the sauce, all 4 burners were going at one point. When I pulled the ham out of the oven, I set it on a burner which I thought I had turned off. Oops. Pyrex shards were everywhere. All my guests were already in my kitchen and I had red hot, flying pyrex shards. Great.
My husband led the cleanup charge but the ham was not safe to eat. We ended up without gravy also because the shards very likely had hopped over into the pan. It was lucky I added pasta to my menu at the last minute; otherwise we would not have had enough food.
After dinner, the younger people all played a very competitive game of Monopoly while my husband once again took control of the kitchen. He washed more dishes. He only asked that I dry when the dish rack got too full. I was so happy. I wore myself out Wednesday and Thursday with all the cooking and cleaning. My husband wore himself out with clean up duty. Because of this I was able to sit and talk to my dad and his girlfriend for several hours at the dinner table. It was amazing as my dad is rarely talkative.
So, I am thankful for having such a great husband. I often bust his chops but I am confident that there are few men who would have swooped into the kitchen straight from work like he did. Everyone helped some with clean up, but my husband was in command and did the vast majority of the dishes.
I am thankful for my family. My kids, my father, and all our other guests.
I am thankful that I am physically and financially able to host my gathering.
I’m a little cranky though. Because now I need to come up with a way to top my exploding pyrex stunt at Christmas. That’s a high bar!