The Spoon Blog
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How's everyone doing? Long time, no talk to!
So it's Thanksgiving. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is a truly beautiful thing! If you ask my son, it's the best thing since Lacrosse season, and that's SAYING something!
I am priveliged to belong to two families. As many of you are. There's my family, that I grew up in, and there's my husbands family, that I didn't grow up in. Two families always means two Thanksgivings. Back in the day, we'd try to split the time, alternating between the two worlds: dinner at his family, dessert at mine, then the next year, switch. Dinner at mine, dessert at his. The first problem with this set up is that the two are usually hot on each other's heels, timing wise, so you're rushing to get from one to the other, thus eliminating time to hang out with the fam. The Big problem is that, they are such DIFFERENT experiences, that you end up eating everything at both houses ANYWAY, and it's all in that short period of time mentioned in the first problem. Afterall, neither mother was about to serve Thanksgiving Breakfast, although I think there might be some merit to that idea and someone ought to figure it out!
We have since wised up. My family does their Thanksgiving the Saturday after Thanksgiving. So as of this writing, I am digesting the one in anticipation of the other.
The beauty of this plan is that eliminates both the problems and allows me to focus on the vast differences between the two. Hubby's family traditions include Thanksgiving being pretty-well an all day affair. We gather in the afternoon for appetizers. I've cooked entire turkeys in less time than appetizers takes...which is WONDERFUL! The wine and sparkling cider (this year there was a citrus slush that went with lemon sparkling water...DELISH!!) flow freely, the kids mess around and everyone just noshes and chills out. There's 30 or so people, sometimes more, sometimes less, so we split up the cooking with someone bringing apps, someone else, salad, someone else side dish, you get the picture. And someone else brings the pies. We have vegetarians in the family so there are always plenty of nods to that, which means there's terrific variety of dishes and it changes from year to year. There's really only a couple of hard-and-fast rules: there is a turkey (although how that turkey is cooked is up for grabs), there is clam dip (grandma's recipe), there are yams & apples. Everything else falls under the heading of ebb and flow. The evening doesn't end until people are starting to get too tired to make the drive home.
MY FAMILY, on the other hand, is much smaller, much simpler. We're 13 or 14 if all the kids show up and a couple of dates come. We don't do appetizers, unless you count the "relish tray" that dates back to my great grandmother. Stuffed celery, carrot sticks, sweet pickles and enough black olives for everyone to put them on all of their fingers at least twice...okay that's an exaggeration. Fine. There was a boyfriend that came to table once and insisted on bringing his family's first-course fruit cup. We all looked at him like he had snakes coming out of his ears, but we ate the fruit cup and then tucked in to the relish tray. What are you gonna do? There is very little variation in our dishes. Turkey, of course, in-and-out-of-bird stuffing, yams...okay the yams changed from the marshmallow topped kind to the mashed with pecan streusel kind about 10 years ago...vegetables, usually peas and broccoli with cheese sauce, mashers and gravy and cranberry sauce, which went from canned to homemade when I figured out how STUPID EASY it was to make the stuff, and pie. When I was a kid my family always had "snow pudding" as a lighter alternative to the pie, but since Auntie passed, no one has picked up that baton.
So, what I've discovered is that, while I LOVE his family's interpretation (really, they are all phenomenal cooks and there is never anything that lacks in any way) I LOVE what I grew up with. Hubby feels the same way. And even though the two traditions couldn't be more different, they are identical in the warmth, the love, the laughter and the joy that is experienced at both. The similarities are what really counts.
I hope your pumpkin pie was as good as Aunties pumpkin pie which is as good as mom's pumpkin pie. And I know your warmth, love, laughter and joy were as amazing as mine were. Peace.