Friday, November 23, 2012

Don't Mess With Tradition

Sound advice, really, yet this year all of our usual Thanksgiving guests had other obligations for the big feast--even the Grandmas. Once I realized it would be just the five of us, all kinds of nontraditional holiday options swirled through my mind. We could go for a hike, take in a movie, and even EAT OUT for our festive meal.

Perhaps I could have a real day of rest? No rising at the "crack of dawn" to chop onions and celery for stuffing, no peeling of potatoes, and no raw bird to primp and prepare--such holiday luxury! Surprisingly, the kids actually agreed to something different as long as my homemade stuffing and King's Arms Tavern Sweet Potatoes were prepared and consumed at some point during the week. 

A few days before Thanksgiving (at our customary Sunday dinner with the Grandmas) we had our pseudo Thanksgiving feast. Grandma S. brought her heavenly potato rolls (my personal Thanksgiving favorite) and Grandma W. brought her delicious chiffon pumpkin pie. A Costco roasted chicken was our nod to poultry.
The plan for Thanksgiving day was to go out to lunch at one of our favorite local restaurants, take in a movie, and enjoy our other two must-have pies later in the evening.

Even the best laid plans tend to go awry, and they certainly did for us. All of our favorite restaurants were CLOSED on Thanksgiving day and those that were open were only serving a "special turkey buffet." However, we simply wanted to enjoy the establishment's usual fare because our taste buds had already been satisfied with our own familial holiday food.

Nix the idea of going out for Thanksgiving dinner.
Instead, I tried a brand new recipe--Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala. Ooh, it was delicious, but suddenly our holiday meal became just like any other weeknight dinner.

While the chicken and spices were melding in the crockpot we did take in a movie--Wreck-It Ralph. We let Abby choose. The other two weren't super excited about this kid movie, but it really was quite good.

What did we do when we got home?
Watched football, of course, in our almost finished and remodeled basement. According to Travis, "watching three games of football is the most American way to spend Thanksgiving."

Luckily, the day did end in a more traditional way with Kellie's freshly baked pecan and apple pies. For the first time in years every bite of that fabulous pecan pie was savored and relished because I wasn't so stuffed when I ate it.
Sure, it was a relaxing day. We even played some games as a family, but retrospection (that wise old friend) visited as I was preparing for bed. At least one of my offspring was obviously NOT happy with the day. The other two seemed fine, but some how Thanksgiving wasn't an exceptional day. Without that extra effort in food preparation, without those special friends and family guests, it seemed like any other day of the year.

Certainly, it was more relaxing for me, but is that what Thanksgiving is all about? Perhaps the sacrifices involved in a traditional celebration are a way of expressing my gratitude and my love for all that I have and for all that surrounds me?

This year I learned a lesson and I made a resolution. No matter how few of us are left at home, Thanksgiving will be celebrated in our family's traditional way. We will invite lonely neighbors, coworkers, roommates, and distant relatives--whomever it takes--to fill our home and table. It will involve days of hard work, but it will definitely be worth it.

After all, one does not mess with tradition!

18 comments:

Rachel said...

SO TRUE. And Travis is hilarious. And since when did he look so snazzy in a tie? Seriously, I've said it before, but I CAN NOT (literally, ask David) wait for the 18th!

Shannon said...

I'll keep that in mind. As long as Joseph lives anywhere near us, we WILL be having a traditional Thanksgiving, so I don't even have to think about it! Now, on to Christmas!

2busy said...

I messed with tradition last year. I had to have a medical procedure which prevented me from standing for long periods of time, thus we opted for dining out since no other family members stepped up to the plate of hosting Thanksgiving.

Even though I enjoyed not cooking, it just wasn't the same. We met family at the noisy restaurant then everyone went their own way afterward instead of the typical sitting and visiting for hours. I'll never mess with Tradition again. Unless, it is just my husband and myself.

Marianne said...

Thanks for sharing that lesson...it's something I have thought about a lot, and haven't actually attempted, but I have been TEMPTED to attempt!

And by the way, is Rachel coming for Christmas? I would LOVE to see that girl!!!

J. said...

Good old Williamsburg! The sweet potatoes looked yummy. I for one would be happy with the chicken tikka masala. Each year I want Indian food for Thanksgiving, but each year, I lose out. Maybe that's okay :).

" Hit It......." said...

Your experience sounds like the one we had last year. We went out to a restaurant and felt very guilty for avoiding our traditional Thanksgiving. This year, it was fun to have family around. However, it was way to much work. I am with you though, regarding pie. I was so stuffed that I couldn't enjoy all of our lovely food and pies. I gobbled till I wobbled. Yuck.


btw -I am going to try your tikka masala (thanks).

Saimi said...

I hear ya on that. Ours was a quite on also. Two of my boys were not there, some other family members didn't make it so even though we had turkey and a few traditional fixins' it kinda felt like just a Sunday dinner to me as well.

I told my 97 year old granny we're done sitting around acting old, next time we'll be playing games and having a time!!

Jenny said...

That was pretty much the same experience over here! Lesson learned. I love wreck it Ralph though! And the less dishes and work part.

Ginger said...

Julie, I loved this post! We were fewer in numbers this year, but still had enough for Thanksgiving at my mom's house with two of my sisters. I actually was hoping our Thanksgiving was like yours because I had several friends who had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving and I thought it would be fun to have them come to my house... but my sisters ended up coming... and family always comes first.

I love the lessons you learned and appreciate you sharing them! :)

Alyson (New England Living) said...

We did a non-tradional Thanksgiving for us this year, but we are don't have family nearby and haven't had them around for years. We went to Plimoth Plantation, so that makes it sort of traditional, right? ;) We loved it actually, but we ran into the same problem you did, our favorite restaurants were all closed!!

Garden of Egan said...

Oh. I stand corrected. I'm so exhausted after the two days of cooking, I decided that NEXT Thanksgiving we will go out.
I guess maybe we shouldn't huh?

Valerie said...

Too bad it wasn't the fun time you envisioned. But it's great that you could spend the day together and have love for each other. More than some people can say. :) Good luck for next year's plans.

Jessica said...

I loved this post! Now you have left me wondering just why I have not read more of your writing...

Miss you! :)

Fine Art by Jennifer said...

You're right! :)

Lara said...

I felt that way this year, too! I love hosting Thanksgiving, and this year we ended up going somewhere else, and it just wasn't the same for me. Still nice, certainly, but I am back on the hosting wagon for next year! :)

Jenny Lynn said...

Your Thanksgiving sounded wonderful. We had football on for most of the day at our house as well. Glad you had such a relaxing day.

Chell said...

We only had 16 this year instead of the usual 35-40. I have 2 brothers and they both decided to do their own Thanksgiving this year because they didn't want to put up with each other. REALLY? Can't we all jsut get along? LOL However, my Mom chose to come to my house(she knows who can cook). One of my nieces also chose to come, instead of going to her dad's house. The rest was all my hubby's family. It was actually kind of nice to have a smaller group.

The Rileys said...

Julie! I stumbled upon your blog and realized it was you! Glad to see you and your family are doing well. We miss our old ward and hope everyone is doing well!