Thanksgiving is my husband’s favorite holiday; not Christmas, not Halloween…Thanksgiving. He isn’t even a sports guy, so it’s not about the football.
Let me explain.
Thanksgiving is the one holiday a year that is all about family. It’s simple, really; no presents, no costumes, no over-stuffed baskets, and no crazy (or illegal) backyard fireworks. The tradition of Thanksgiving is to get together with some of your favorite people and just be together.
The best part is that Thanksgiving looks different for everyone, and that’s okay. There is not a whole lot of competition when it comes to Thanksgiving. As long as you find yourself in the company of those you love, then you are doing Thanksgiving right.
The Days of Thanksgiving Past
Even though Thanksgiving is one of the more simple holidays, it doesn’t come without its own host of challenges. Where to go and who to see are two of the toughest questions. My husband and I both come from large families and when we were children the answer was easy. We went wherever our parents took us. Then, we began dating, and suddenly there was another option or two of where to go. When we got married, Thanksgiving became exponentially more difficult. There was, at a minimum, four different celebrations that we should go to.
After college, we found ourselves transplanted about 450 miles away from everyone. I hosted my very own Thanksgiving in 2007, not knowing then that it would become “our” holiday. In 2008, we went back to our hometown for our very last big family Thanksgiving (though we didn’t know that at the time).
The Thanksgivings of our childhood were gone. Aunts and uncles started having their own Thanksgiving dinners to accommodate their own growing families. However, through no planned effort of our own, my husband and I became the keepers of Thanksgiving for our little branches of the family trees.
Our Family’s Thanksgiving Tradition
We have an open door policy here at the Fritz house for Thanksgiving. If anyone is missing out on a Thanksgiving dinner, then my door is open and there is always a spot at the table. Living so far away from everyone is hard. I know this from experience. That’s why anyone is welcome. This also means that even though I am the keeper of Thanksgiving each year, the people blessing us with their company is different. Sometimes I have so many people over that I have no clue where to seat everyone. Other years, our only visitors are my husband’s parents, which is perfectly awesome. Big or small, there are always leftovers because I simply don’t know how to do Thanksgiving dinner in a small sort of way.
Go big or go home, right?
Interesting story…back in 2007, when I was mulling it over in my brain that Thanksgiving could be my thing, I decided to forego the turkey. I was on the cusp of “owning” a holiday and I was going to do something different. It’s in my nature. Just ask my mom. It drives her nuts.
I digress…I decided to forego the turkey and bought a goose instead. IT WAS TOTALLY AMAZING!!! Honestly, be bold and do something different. If I could roast up a goose every year, I would. No doubt about it. Unfortunately, my favorite meat place was flooded out in ’08 and never returned. Since then, I haven’t been able to find the same quality and went back to turkey for the Thanksgiving bird.
However, I can’t leave you with a sad ending.
If you ever feel like your bird just isn’t the culinary masterpiece it should be, then I have some suggestions for you: Brine and glaze. You’ll find my all-time favorite brine recipe here. Seriously, it’s amazing! I brine the turkey for about 48 hours. Turkey needs a lot of work; such a needy bird. Then, as it is roasting throughout the day, I slather it with a delicious glaze that could probably be a side in its own right. Yum!
- 1 cup orange juice (pulp free)
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 cups cranberry sauce
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Mix orange juice, brown sugar, and cranberry sauce in saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar.
- Bring to a boil.
- Drop in the cinnamon stick, reduce heat to simmer.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until cranberry sauce is melted and glaze is hot and bubbling (about 10 minutes).
- Brush turkey during last 45 minutes of cooking.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes to set glaze.
- Repeat several times until the end of the roasting time.
- I use homemade cranberry sauce for this recipe. The original recipe calls for 1 can (16oz.) of jellied cranberry sauce.
Such a deliciously beautiful bird deserves some fantastic sides. I usually switch it up year after year because I like to try new things. I have a few staples, like mashed taters and gravy, green bean casserole (it’s the recipe right off the French’s fried onions container gussied up with a splash, or four, of Worcestershire sauce), sweet potato casserole, and rolls.
After that, well, that’s when I get creative. And by “I get creative” I mean I find a bunch of recipes online and make them. Some of them are amazing and some won’t be making an appearance again this year.
This post is pretty much everything you need in your life. If you are good at baking bread, go for the oatmeal/molasses rolls. Skip the Thyme Roasted Parsnips & Apples. Also, this Autumn Salad is life! It will be the talk of any gathering.
Most importantly, though, I really just want whoever is at the table for Thanksgiving to enjoy themselves and have a relaxing day. I hope my children remember all the good memories, laughter, reminiscing, and all the times we get stuck playing Munchkin for 12 hours because we combined four different themes.
When Halloween is over, I begin planning the big day, knowing it has become tradition to come to my house with no expectations other than great food and great company. In addition to those who already make it such a fun day, I envision that one day when my children are grown, they’ll be wanting to come home because you just can’t miss Mumee’s Thanksgiving dinner. For this, I am thankful.
Tell us, what are your favorite traditions or recipes?
Have you become the host of the big Thanksgiving dinner?