Do holidays sneak up on you? No? Me either! I love the holidays so much that I relentlessly stare at the calendar until they arrive. This Thanksgiving we will have dinner at my sister-in-law’s house on Thursday, and on Saturday I will host the celebration at my house for my side of the family. On Friday, if the weather permits, we like to do a Friends-giving with a big fire and some local friends. It’s a great way to round off seeing as many people as possible in just a few short days.
My husband’s side of the family and my own like to pull out all the traditional staples; turkey, taters, gravy, and dressing (aka stuffing) which is on each table but completely different recipes. My husband’s family does a sausage dressing that is dense and quite moist, while my dad does a pecan one that is still moist but not nearly as much as the sausage dressing. They are both delicious. Pies and pumpkin rolls are also common. I don’t know what my dad does to his pumpkin pie, it’s probably out of a can, but I can never replicate it. Cold pumpkin pie for breakfast the next day is a dream!
My side of the family (Peterson/Donato) will have a super colorful table. In addition to what’s above, we do roast sweet potatoes with maple nut butter, roast balsamic Brussel sprouts, homemade cranberry sauce (with orange and apples), peas, and roasted root vegetables if we have room. My mom bakes her bread; often she grinds the grains on her tabletop mill. We start the day off with more appetizers than possible to eat; an assortment of veggies, dips, olives, cheeses, melted brie with honey and almonds, bread, meats, and my dad’s famous Cheese Poopies (aka sausage and cheese balls). I have no idea why we call these Cheese Poopies but I have to say the name is contagious and most of my close friends have adopted the title as well. My dad probably made up the name to be silly when we were kids. Just like the time, my youngest sister asked how rocks were made, and my dad said, “A rock monster poops them out.” Always good for a poo joke, thanks, Dad!
For my husband’s side of the family, there are a few key dishes that us Peterson’s don’t have. One is Lefse, which my in-laws make by hand every year. It’s a Norwegian tradition that they have carried on for multiple generations. The flipper (which probably has a fancier name) is an heirloom, and they use a special flat and round griddle. My kids seem to enjoy it, coating the Lefse with butter and tossing cinnamon sugar on top, then rolling it up. I have used it in a savory way before also, though I’m not sure if that’s how it’s intended. My mother-in-law makes a Cheesy Potatoe Casserole with Cornflakes (the recipes here is not in-law original, but wanted to give you an idea), it gets eaten pretty fast.
We eat somewhere between 2 pm and 4 pm, depending if our act is together or if we have been gabbing away and drinking too much wine before noon. I think Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays; there isn’t the pressure of gift giving, the entire holiday focuses on delicious food, you get to see your family all in one place, and it’s a great excuse to wear elastic pants or a loose dress.
The best tradition of all is on my side of the family when we sit around the table, and each of us shares something that makes us grateful. It’s a standing rule that you must participate, and you can’t say your family is what you are most grateful for because that’s already a given. We laugh at that rule every year, and someone always gets caught slipping down that slope. We are not a religious family, so this takes the place of our prayer time. We send our love into the universe, and it finds its way back.
This year I am thankful for listening to my heart. I jumped into writing with my fingers to the sky and shouting, “here goes nothing.” My blog is not a year old yet, and I am so very thankful for everyone I have connected with through blogging and the writing community. Putting myself out there as a writer has helped me to overcome so many fears and obstacles, and I’ve barely scratched the service. I’m thankful there is an unexplored path ahead, and I have people to share this journey.
Happy Thanksgiving! I would love to hear what you are grateful for or what your family traditions are.