October is Over, Thanksgiving is Here…

Yang Mommy

…I can smell turkey and stuffing so near!

Growing up in a small family, with both parents from Europe, we didn’t really “celebrate” Thanksgiving like most American families. Sure, we watched Santa arrive in the parade and had some turkey for dinner but that was about it for the traditional activities. No large feasts, no touch football in the back yard, no days spent in the kitchen in preparation. Some of my friends thought I was missing out on the big day and I agreed with them. I wanted the big family table, full of laughter and good cheer, with plates piled high with good food–I wanted the quintessential Hallmark holiday.

Yet looking back on my childhood, I realize that although we didn’t have the Hallmark holiday, we really did have a great day, year after year. Because my parents didn’t stress out in the kitchen and because we took the day easily, we spent the day as tight knit close family. Some years we’d all take long walks in the woods, looking for animal tracks. Other years we’d simply go feed the ducks at the local pond, or if we had a white Thanksgiving, we’d definitely go sledding. Those were wonderful Thanksgiving days.

Nowadays, since marrying  into a larger family & having my own little one, our Thanksgivings have become much larger and grander, and more Norman Rockwellish. Add to the fact that we invite family friends over to dinner too and we end up with a 25 lb+ organic turkey on the table with slim chances of leftovers for the weekend! (I admit, my husband and I have on occasion bought our own little turkey breast to have “leftovers” with–I have to have my turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich on Black Friday!) This week is being spent in preparation for Thursday’s big day, with home-made food being whipped up hither and yon. Stress in the kitchen? You bet ya. Fun in the kitchen? Absolutely! Trying to make it all work whilst a toddler runs around pretending to be a turkey–hilarious!

So as I march forth into the kitchen today and well on into the night, and after I’ve trudged through the supermarket crowds, I’ll be reminiscing about my childhood Thanksgivings and looking forward to my grown-up day of feasting (and in the back of my mind, making sure I also have food my tot will eat, LOL!). And I’ll definitely make sure to create  my own special family memories with my little girl and husband on this day of thanks.

…And when it is over and grace has been said, it won’t be the turkey but me stuffed instead!

YIN:

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I’m not quite sure why. I’m not a really big eater. And although I like to cook (when I have time) and read magazines such as Saveur, I’m not a gourmand. I think I really like Thanksgiving because it’s the time of year when you can feel like a kid again and there’s a change in the weather that says “It’s that’s time of year!!”.

Working in retail for the past several years has really changed my Thanksgiving. No more relaxing and do a few things a few days ahead. No completely cleaning out the fridge and scrubbing down the kitchen. No prepping the night before and leisurely going into the day. I’m too busy making sure everyone else has what they need for the holidays.

But even though I’m bone tired after working close to 35 hours in a 3 day span before Thanksgiving, I cooked a full meal this year. The only thing I didn’t make were the mashed potatoes which were pre-made. I brined and cooked a turkey, made some honey carrots, made easy yeast rolls, and for the first time even made a gravy that was tasty and not lumpy (finally!). I did forget the stuffing, but no worries.

So if I was so tired why do all that? Because I wanted my daughter to experience Thanksgiving with her parents. She was only 5 months old last Thanksgiving and we went to my brother’s to eat. This year I made the decision early that we weren’t going to family’s house to have dinner. Not because we don’t like our family – but because my work life was so crazy in the days prior and my husband had to work Thanksgiving morning. So rather than rush around and be cranky and not enjoy the day we had dinner at home and then afterwards went to see my family and had drinks and dessert with them.

I felt guilty at first because my parents were down for the week. However I realized that this was the best thing for my “new” family and my “old” family would enjoy me more if I was relaxed. After yesterday I no longer feel guilty but I feel good because we had the best of both worlds. I got to wake up, have a mimosa and watch the Macy’s parade with my daughter. Then I started cooking, my husband came home and we ate around 3:30pm. After my daughter’s bath (have you seen a 17 month old go at the cranberry sauce?) we headed over and hung out for a few hours with my family. My husband even went to the bar at the timeshare with my dad and they had a couple of beers and some quality time.

So this holiday season, don’t feel pressured to do whatever you don’t want to. You’ll get resentful and it won’t be any fun. Do what is best for your family and if it’s a little different, so what? The idea isn’t to be like Norman Rockwell’s vision. That’s no offense to Yang Mommy and her family – they’re not trying to be like Norman Rockwell’s vision. I think they ARE Rockwell’s vision. They’re a big, close family who loves spending a lot of time together. That’s who they are and they don’t try to be different. But if your family isn’t like that don’t try to fit into a mold that you’re not. Being yourself will make everyone more comfortable and you’ll have a much better holiday season. Enjoy!

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