For the first time in almost 18 years of marriage, we will not have any extended family or friends with us for Thanksgiving. We have always either gone to relatives’ houses or hosted the holiday. And either way there were traditional family dishes that we would make or be served.
When we lived up north and went to Michael’s aunt’s and uncle’s house for Thanksgiving, they made their stuffing with sausage and chestnuts. (I had never had it that way.) They also served butternut squash. We always had sweet potato soufflé growing up. All the aunts would contribute their specialities to the meal. They would leave the food outside because it was freezing so they didn’t have to overcrowd the refrigerator. I thought that was so crazy!
If we were hosting and Michael’s dad and stepmom were coming, we would have pasta and gravy with the meal or before the meal. Also Michael’s stepmother would bring the northern-style stuffing because his dad doesn’t like my southern style cornbread stuffing.
If we were with my parents, then we had to make my grandmother’s sweet potato soufflé and my great-grandmothers green beans. If my sister-in-law were there then we would have her sweet potatoes, which had a pecan, brown sugar crust on the top, and her chocolate éclairs for desert.
But this year we will be all alone. No guests to serve. No family to cater to. Just us.
I thought it would take all the pressure off and I could just make the meal however I wanted. But now there are some many options, I’m feeling a lot of pressure.
A few weeks ago I had declared that I wasn’t going to make a turkey this year. They’re such large birds, and you only make them once a year so they never turn out right. They’re overcooked and a lot of stress.
Think about it: There are no radio hotlines for Christmas meals because people make things that they like and that they know how to make!!! Why do people try once a year to make this disproportionate bird where there’s no way the dark meat and white meat can be done at the same time?!
I told the kids I wasn’t going to make turkey and Walsh was up in arms. I said, “Why do you care if we just have a chicken instead?” (I know I can make a juicy chicken!)
And he said, “We need to honor Benjamin Franklin by having a turkey.”
This was not the answer I had expected. I said, “Why?”
He said, “Because Ben Franklin said it should be our national bird.”
Ugg. So what do I do with that? (Maybe a small turkey that I can treat like a chicken?)
I have another wrench in my holiday meal planning – my Weight Watchers diet. I am just shy of 10 pounds down after five weeks so I don’t want to blow things. On the other hand, maybe all that progress means I can eat some pumpkin pie!
So I am off to decide my menu – Do I stick with the traditional favorites or go with something really wacky? Do I try to keep it diet friendly or blow it out for one day? (I am tempted to try a brined turkey from Trader’s Joes because we’ve often had multiple relatives with salt restrictions in the past, but not this year.)
Do you always serve the same traditional family recipes? Do you try new things each year? Do you always have the same guests and same routine? What would you do if you didn’t have any restrictions at all and could choose anything to serve? What do you think about no turkey for Thanksgiving?