Thanksgiving, Past and Present

photo found here

The first few years that Ted and I were dating, he would go to his family’s house for Thanksgiving, and I would go to my Grandma’s house. I had a lovely time at Grandma’s house, even with the talk of diets and the dry dry turkey and the taste of cigarretes, and it was nice to see my family, as I was living in San Francisco now, and saw them mainly on the holidays. But as time went on, Ted and I decided we wanted to spend our Thanksgivings together. So, one year, I invited Ted to Thanksgiving at my Grandma’s house. I think he was in a bit of culture shock, what with the eating in different rooms, the dry turkey, the potatoes from a box, the lack of music, etc. He didn’t complain, but the following year, we decided to take matters into our own hands and cook dinner for the family. My company, instead of a Christmas bonus or anything like that, handed out Thanksgiving turkeys to the employees. My roomie worked at the same company, and gave me his turkey (thanks, Troy!). So, with two turkeys, off we went to cook Thanksgiving dinner. One was a lot bigger than the other, which was perfect, as the big turkey came out juicy and moist, and the smaller one came out dry, and our family is kind of split between those who like it one way, and those who prefer it the other. I clogged the garbage disposal with potato peels, and snapped at my mother’s advice for cooking potatoes. I was annoyed by our family friend, who was VERY focused on her one contribution (gravy), ignoring all of the contributions that we were providing (everything else). But, the food was tasty, and we overall had a nice time.

My brother married his wife the same year that Ted and I got married, though a few months later. Their wedding was the weekend after Thanksgiving, and my mom came down from Alaska for the wedding. We decided we would serve Thanksgiving dinner at our house, forgoing Grandma’s house and Ted’s family’s house this year. We pulled out all of our fancy new china, crystal, and silver. I remember really enjoying Thanksgiving that year, really enjoying having it in my own home for the first time ever, really enjoying using all of our fancy ‘good china’ items, enjoying the laughter and music and yummy food.

The following year, we moved to Philadelphia, and it was Thanksgiving dinner for two. We came home to California for Christmas, but Thanksgiving was just us. So, what did we have? Everything we both wanted, of course. Heck, you might say it’s too much work, but really, what else were we doing with our day? And none of it is THAT difficult to prepare. So, we pulled out our good tablecloth/china/crystal/silver again, and whipped up all of our favorites…turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yams (for Ted), cranberry sauce (for me), acorn squash, the whole nine-yards. We ate turkey for days, but it was cozy and lovely, and fun to have a holiday together just us. For those of you who live far from your families on Thanksgiving, I would suggest…go for it. If it’s important for you at all, go ahead and make the whole dang meal. It’s fun, it’s tasty, and you won’t have to figure out what to cook for a few more days at least. πŸ˜‰ Turkey soup, turkey pot pie, turkey pasta…you’re covered.

Since we moved back to California, and my mom and my brother are both in Alaska, and my dad and sisters are in Oregon, there’s really never any question of where to spend Thanksgiving day. We spend it with Ted’s family, and it’s a wonderful holiday. I like Thanksgiving best, I think, because it’s about coming together and celebrating family, and things for which we are thankful. It’s not about gifts, and there’s no big religious tie-in (though of course the pilgrims were indeed giving thanks to their God for their safety and a harvest, so there is certainly a religious theme to the day…), and it’s about being thankful for each other. Love it. (Read a cute bit on Yahoo yesterday about the Thanksgiving story…worth a peek…read to the end for a more Native point of view…)

One nice thing about Thanksgiving at Ted’s parents’ house is that no one person has to do all of the cooking. Cooking a meal for 12 people can be daunting, and if one person has to do it all, it’s no fun. So, we divide and conquer, and everything comes out great, as long as there’s room in the oven. Laluna makes yummy desserts, so she’s usually in charge of pies. Also perhaps some yummy veggies. Uncle and Aunt are in charge of appitizers. We bring cranberry sauce, candied yams, and usually one other thing…this year, we’re bringing cranberry sauce (two kinds, because in addition to the standard whole bean that I make, I’ve decided to try this more savory version, which is intruiging to me), yams, Indian pudding (a recipe from one of Maya’s magazines…I kinda thought it would be Indian with cardamom or something, but no, it’s American Indian, with corn meal. Groovy.), and I got my Grandma’s recipe for fruit salad. Bonus! I grew up gorging on Grandma’s fruit salad, so I’m pretty happy about having that at the meal. Now, for your bonus gift, I’m giving you her recipe, and while it’s probably too late for you to make it for your Thanksgiving meal this year, you could certainly try it out at Christmas. πŸ˜‰ By the way, Grandma’s not the type to measure things, so you’re going to have to guess along with me on how much of this or that to throw in there.

Grandma’s Fruit Salad

Apples, chopped
Oranges, peeled and sliced
Bananas, peeled and sliced
Grapes, if you have them
Walnuts, toasted if you wish
Pineapple chunks, canned, reserve liquid

1 small package cream cheese
Lemon juice (a couple of tsp)
Pineapple juice from can

Mix together first group of ingredients. Smash cream cheese with a fork, mixing it with lemon and pineapple juice, forcing it to submit into becoming a yummy dressing. Toss dressing with fruit and nuts, and get out of J’s way, because she just might eat it all. πŸ˜‰

Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Does this count as ‘doing something’? Telling you not to blame the turkey when you get tired after dinner? Debunking a myth? Should count.
2. I’ll be doing a lot today. Some cooking, some eating, some drinking, hopefully napping, turkey or not, and lots of remembering the plethora of reasons I have for giving thanks today.

9 thoughts on “Thanksgiving, Past and Present

  1. What a great find for the photo!

    You’re so right about it being worth the fuss even for two. I basically make the whole dinner for just me and half of my OH…he only eats a few of the things, but I don’t care–I have meals for a week and it makes me feel a little closer to home πŸ™‚

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. What wonderful Thanksgiving memories πŸ™‚ I think that’s what Thanksgiving is all about…The memories and good times with loved ones (and being thankful for that). Okay, there’s the whole history part of this special day, but the memories created with family and friends are important too πŸ™‚

    Your Grandma’s fruit salad sounds delish!

  3. I love cooking, but this year I announced that I was not doing ALL the cooking because it’s too stressful, and so we did that divide and conquer thing. It went amazingly well and whether they all realize it or not, it’s our new holiday tradition.

  4. I WANT that salad!!!
    My mom makes a jell-o salad which has layers and the middle layer is my favorite which sounds like all of the flavors of the so yummy dressing! I can’t tell you how much I want it now!

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