I’ve said this before… my absolute favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Christmas is great… birthdays are fun (especially when you’re young)… Easter can be either a sugar-laden gorge-fest or a deeply meaningful time of renewal… but Thanksgiving beats them all, hands down, in my book.
There’s something so incredible about a holiday that is simply focused on giving thanks. There are no expectations of gifts… no other focus than on spending time with family and/or friends… just the plan to BE… and I just love it. Having my family around me makes me happy… and being able to cook for them, without any distractions or interruptions, gives me more enjoyment than should be allowed by law.
In our family, we have the same meal every year…. it’s our tradition. I make a “12-hour turkey” (yes… it really DOES cook for 12 hours), sausage and apple stuffing (half of which goes into the bird), Mimi’s peas, Sweet Potato Casserole, Whipped Turnip Casserole, Homemade cloverleaf rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and at least one version of pumpkin pie.
While we don’t have others around with us that day, the recipes I use bring them to mind each and every time I make them. Mimi’s peas is a recipe from both my mom and step-mom… a twist on the traditional Green Bean casserole. The Sweet Potato Casserole recipe came from my dear friend, Jacqui, in our first Navy squadron. The Turnip casserole is from my mother-in-law and makes me smile each time I make it. The roll recipe is one from my beloved Aunt Jody, who died when D was only 6 months old. The Pumpkin pie recipe is also from my MIL – happens to be M’s favorite, so I make it every year so he continues to have ties to his own childhood.
As for that “12-hour turkey”? I was given that recipe from a woman in MI named Dawna, who made a Thanksgiving dinner for our entire church family every year. She lovingly shared her recipe with me for being able to cook enough turkeys to feed a hungry congregation and I have been using it ever since. She didn’t stuff her bird (and I’ve been warned every year not to stuff the bird) but I’ve been doing it this way since 1995 and tradition dictates that the bird is stuffed… AND we have a dish of baked stuffing on the side. Can you ever have too much stuffing?
As you might guess, I now use a written timetable for when every item goes into the oven, what gets microwaved, when the oven temperature gets altered, and what must be made ahead of time to keep me from going insane, but I really do love it. Knowing that I get to repeat this meal four weeks later for Christmas dinner, is simply icing on the cake for me… call me crazy, but I LOVE it!
Many on Facebook have been taking part in a daily affirmation of thanks for each day of the month… while I think that’s a great idea, I would love to have the time (or attention span) to take that a step further and do a year of daily notes of gratitude. Can you imagine how much better the world would be if we could simply focus on our blessings in this life instead of complaining about what we don’t have or don’t like or don’t want?
Maybe it’s the “happy yellow lab” in me, but I would like to rearrange my thoughts for the coming year, by focusing on the positive aspects of my life instead of whining about the negative. I know I have a hard time letting go of things (D’s former Coach M is a prime example… see previous post for that diatribe) but maybe if I can keep a simple journal of thankfulness or gratitude, I can have a better attitude toward life in general. Even if all I write one night is that I’m grateful that my husband is at home with me… or that my son sent me a text saying “I miss your face”… isn’t that enough to make for a good day? Are we all expecting too much out of each and every day? Maybe we have to have those days where the best thing was a simple meal with family to appreciate the truly spectacular times in our lives, whatever they may be.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it makes me remember just how blessed I am and allows me the opportunity to be “mushy” about how grateful I am for those blessings. Anyone else interested in taking a journey with me? I’m planning to start on December 1st – just as everyone else finishes their month-long postings of gratitude – and write a line of gratitude each day. I might not make it every single day, but that’s my plan for the coming year. I’ll try and remember to check in from time to time… I’d love to see others join me.
Gratitude is a wonderful and powerful thing… I wonder what would happen if we could harness that power to make the world a better place? Be grateful… and be thankful… and don’t forget to share that with others…