Growing up, Thanksgiving was a fun and festive time in our home. My mother cooked a mean turkey plumped with matzoh stuffing, celery and seasonings, There was cranberry sauce. Cinnamon sweet potato. Gravy. Green beans. Wine. No one went hungry or thirsty. I remember it well and miss the celebration.
My mom has since passed away, and I've become a mother, so things are different. We have hosted some Thanksgiving meals in my home. My husband enjoys cooking the turkey, but I find the whole thing a huge amount of work... particularly the set-up and clean-up, so we're not doing it this year.
I yearn to create new tradition and would like my son to look back upon holiday time with fond memories. All that said, it's hard. We don't get invited to others homes for Thanksgiving, and most people we know have plans. So, I grapple with the notion of tradition and holidays. Many women, especially mothers, in my social circle, find entertaining exhausting. Some enjoy cooking and excel at it. Others order in. Still others become reluctant chefs.
There is no one way to celebrate, but I do feel a certain amount of pressure to partake in festivities. I'm conflicted. I've never entirely bought into holidays. If you have a close knit family and enjoy spending time together, then it's the every day that counts... isn't it?! Holidays come and go, and are often a opportunity for Hallmark to make a killing with greeting cards.
I enjoy the holiday lights and spirit that come with Hanukkah and Christmas, and the fact that Hanukkah, which we celebrate, has 8 nights. Each evening becomes a mini-celebration, as my son opens presents. What we eat is secondary.
Another family we are friendly with is free the Friday after Thanksgiving, though the dad is traveling. We plan to get together and take in a kids movie. On Thanksgiving itself, they are seeing relatives for brunch.
My father is elderly and is staying with my sister in NYC over Thanksgiving. Due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan, we do not want to attempt to drive in for fear of massive traffic. So, we, as of now, will be on our own.
Can you purchase a turkey for three? I'm not keen on turkey leftovers. Does my son even really like turkey? He'd be happier if we ordered in a pizza.
In the past, we have gone out to eat at a local diner. I've found it interesting to see who spends holidays in a diner. There are plenty of folk who choose not to entertain and are glad to have a destination, even if not someone's home. The portions are likely just as heaping, and there's something to be said for being served and not being left with a full dishwasher.
To me, it's about the love and bond you feel as a family unit. Do you have to be Martha Stewart to celebrate Thanksgiving? I don't have the motivation, though I admire her culinary talents. It must be a delight to dine at her table. I can only imagine the feast for the eyes and stomach.
But, until Martha invites my family and I as house guests, we will create holiday joy our own way. In fact, I think I'll propose that my son and I bake brownies on Thanksgiving for the local volunteer firehouse. My son is a fireman-in-the-making, and last year, we baked brownies for Christmas and brought them over. This year, we can start a new tradition and bake them for Thanksgiving too. It's all about giving back and being grateful, so I'm getting out the brownie tin and Ghiradelli mix (a great one!), and my son will revel in knowing he's recognizing others who do much for the community. To me... that's the epitome holiday spirit and a life lesson to last for years to come... turkey or no turkey!