I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what Thanksgiving means to me. We still have a week to go, but as I mentioned on Monday, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays – honestly, I’d usually say it’s my absolute number one – and I don’t like the way that the Chrismukkah bonanza begins the day after Halloween and Thanksgiving gets glossed over so quickly. It’s a day to savor food and family, even if we all end up having a little too much of both, and to consider all the good things we have in our lives, a particularly potent act after events like those in Paris last week.
Growing up, I loved Thanksgiving because it was the holiday that my family hosted at our home. On Hanukkah and other holidays we would bundle into the car and drive to my cousins’ or grandparents’ homes, but on Thanksgiving everyone came to us in Connecticut. Some years there would already be a light snow on the ground, others it was still autumnal and breezy, but the constant was a sort of panoramic perfection as my dad brought the turkey to the table and we all dug in. This is the table I imagined serving the first dessert I ever made to (and that’s exactly what happened last year with my Pumpkin Poufflé!)
I was lucky to have this, year in and year out, until I went to Oxford, where of course Thanksgiving was not an occurrence. My first year I tried to host a “Friendsgiving” but it just confused my friends, who considered turkey and cranberry sauce to be Christmas foods and who were already into the Christmas spirit. It was usually just ten days before the end of term and everyone was celebrating “Oxmas” and so I ended up Skyping with my family that day in subsequent years. I was happy when I returned home for law school to once again have the tradition to partake in. Watching the parade on television after running a hometown Turkey Trot, cooking and eating dishes from cornbread to turkey to pie, and enjoying the spirit of the day.
This year, for the first time, we won’t be having our Thanksgiving at my family’s table. Instead, we’ll be going to the community where both sets of my grandparents live, about a two hours’ drive away. I was disappointed when I initially heard the plan, wanting to cling to the way it was in my childhood. But one of the things I am most thankful for this year is that, at the age of twenty-four, I have all four of my grandparents still here with me and doing well. It makes sense, as they get older, for us to go to them. And I’ll be just as happy to share my new Pumpkin Apple Spice Loaf with the table, just as fulfilled by being able to make and share food for family and friends.
What else am I thankful for this year? The rest of my family and all of my friends, for starters. My ability to run and be outside moving in the fresh air. The opportunity to volunteer with the Junior League and to help others in the community. The way that I’ve grown to love cooking and sharing food with others after so long struggling with such things. This blog, and the chance I have to write about the things I love and to be part of a whole other amazing community. And so much more.
[Tweet “What I’m Thankful For This Thanksgiving #GivingThanks #Gratitude #WhatAreYouThankfulFor”]
What are you thankful for this year?
How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving?
Any ideas on how best to honor the holiday before diving into December?
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14 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Thoughts”
All these Thanksgiving dishes just look too good! I also have those feelings about Thanksgiving since we always had it at home. This year my sister won’t be there (just got married) and it’s going to be strange, yet I’m still glad we’ll be at my parents’ house. Something about Thanksgiving makes me want to stick to traditions.
You are very, very lucky to have your grandparents still. I lost my last one before I got married and I was only 23! So be grateful for that & embrace the change.
Thanksgiving was always my mom’s holiday, too. I didn’t really like it — still don’t — I’m an introvert, and even with family & friends, it was just too much. Because my parents definitely believed the more the merrier; me, not so much. Although it will be pretty small, just us, my sister & her 2 kids, and my parents.
Then it fell to my sister . . . and this year it’s me & we’ll see how that goes.
It’s definitely tough to break those traditions that we associate with our big holidays. This year will be the first Christmas that I won’t get to celebrate in the home I grew up in (my parents just moved), and I’m curious about how it will go. On the one hand, I’m not sure it’ll be the same since I have so many memories of the old place, and on the other hand, I really love my parents’ new place and it feels like home just because family is there. I think it’s all about finding the good in any new situation, because there’s always something.
That last sentence is exactly the mindset I actively choose to have 🙂
Thanksgiving was always one of my favorites as a kid because my parents both come from big families. (My dad is one of 5 and my mom is one of 9!) When my parents divorced, it was definitely hard to reconfigure my idea of holidays and traditions, and it happened again when I got married. My husband is an only child and so is his mom, so he has a little family. We did Thanksgiving “his” way one year, (it was just his mother, him, and me..) and I was so sad that I told him I couldn’t do it that way again. Now his mom comes to my family’s Thanksgiving. Growing up is definitely hard but it’s fun to make your own traditions!
This post filled me with so many warm belly butterflies. Enjoy your time with your family – especially those grandparents. You are so blessed to still have their company. Thanks for starting my day with such grateful thoughts.
I also hate how Christmas has somehow managed to completely take over two full months of the year. My boyfriend gets really mad about how early Christmas stuff goes up; if he had his way it would be outlawed until the day after Thanksgiving, LOL. But honestly, Thanksgiving’s “underdog” status is what makes it so lovable for me. I appreciate the fact that we still have at least one holiday that hasn’t been commercialized to death. Of course it deserves more attention but the irony of that is that if it were treated the same way as Xmas it just wouldn’t be the same, ya know?
It’s always hard when we suddenly have to celebrate a holiday in a different way than we’ve grown up celebrating it. I’ve been there. But I think this actually ends up highlighting the spirit of the holiday, because it forces you to look harder for it and find it in places you might have taken for granted before.
One year for Thanksgiving we spent it in my grandmother’s nursing home with her and the other residents. The staff catered a Thanksgiving meal and it was nice. I have to say it was different, but I can look back on that day and be thankful we spent it with my grandma. Now-a-days being a vegan, my thanksgiving is actually on Saturday being spent at the Celebration for the Turkeys at a farm sanctuary near me. I did it last year and it was really fun!
On Thanksgiving I plan to go to my bosses house to have food and fun with her family and my coworkers.
Family parties with my blood relatives aren’t really that festive or thankful. Maybe sometime our family problems will sort out enough to enjoy each other for a whole day. Until then, I’ll wait till Christmas for that.
I’m thankful for a lot this year – thankful for my family and for the fact that my fiancee’s family and mine get along. Also the fact that I’m getting married next year, and the fact that everyone is healthy and happy.
We generally are traveling for Thanksgiving but it is nice to be able to spend it with family.
All your recipes look delishhhhh! I want to try your pumpkin pouffle!
Hope you like it!
Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday as well because it meant giant family+family-friend gatherings and lots of delicious food. All my favorite things lumped into one holiday–what’s not to like!? I’m a fan of Friendsgiving as well, and have been celebrating that for the past 5 years. ;P
That’s so awesome that your grandparents are all still around, and I’m glad you get to spend time with both sets of them. Cherish that time! ❤