Monday, November 24, 2014

THANKSGIVING SIMPLE

by Kate Collins



I used to wear myself out cooking at Thanksgiving. I prepared for days, pre-cooking what I could, squeezing in cleaning the house, making sure I had enough seating space, drinks for everyone, getting the turkey in the oven early, basting, cutting up mounds of potatoes, etc. etc. So that by the time I finally sat down with the family, I was too tired to enjoy the food.

Then there was the massive clean up. By the time I went to bed, I was so crabby, I wasn't fit to live with.

Not any more. With age comes wisdom, I suppose. Now I make it easy on myself. I still have a crowd coming, but I order the turkey already roasted. It comes with mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing so all I have to do is put it in the oven and, by popular demand, make my fabulous All Purpose Gravy, which everyone prefers to the full fat version ( the recipe is in our cookbook, The Cozy Chicks Kitchen). Other family members bring the side dishes and desserts. My job is to coordinate the ovens, set the tables, and eat.

Whew! What a difference. I don't dread Thanksgiving anymore. I can talk to people when they arrive. I can sleep in and not have to rise at the crack of dawn. It's a whole new world.

How is your Thanksgiving? Do you love it or dread it? What do you do to make it more enjoyable?

I wish all of you a very happy holiday.

16 comments:

Margo Bittner said...

This year will be one of my smaller Thanksgiving dinners - 40 people. About 30 years ago, I started hosting Thanksgiving, and it has been my "assigned" family duty since. I used to make the bulk of the meal, use the good (hand wash only) dishes, set a fancy table. Now, I email everyone and ask what they want to bring. It is only one meal, so if we have turkey and all desserts, who cares? We're together. Everyone is encouraged to use foil pans that can be tossed, not washed. I use the dishwasher safe dishes. If you come for dinner, great. If your friend will be alone and wants to join us, that works. You have other obligations and only come for dessert. That's fine too. So our frantic, perfect in appearance day, is now a fun, relaxed family gathering. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

My grandmother and mother used to slave away for thanksgiving...doing everything, only allowing family to help with a few tasks (setting the table, doing dishes, anything but cooking). When I hosted my first Thanksgiving, I totally changed the rules. Our kitchen had no walls between the dining area and the living room so there were no barriers to pass through physical or psychological. I assigned everyone to their strengths and everyone, including my 7 yr old nephew actively participated in the meal. My Mom did desserts, my Dad & brother carved the bird, my SIL did vegetables, my niece made rolls from scratch, my nephew helped with the stuffing, my Grandmother made gravy assigned timely do my husband did dishes. At the end of the day, no one was tired, cranky or spent. I think that for the first time ever, each person was truly thankful for the meal and for every meal that my Grandmother and Mother had prepared in the past. Now that the kids have grown, it's not as easy to have a meal like this, but I'm hopeful in that my niece hosts these kind of full participation, full contact meals when she & her husband host parties.
KATE c

mary kennedy said...

Kate, that is a great idea! Everyone can--and should--participate. I think all of us tried to do too much "back in the day." I remember when I lived down south, my neighbor told me everyone expected her to make three kinds of home-made bread for Thanksgiving--cornbread, dinner rolls and baking powder biscuits. And everything else was home-made, from cranberry sauce (two kinds) to veggies and she was worn out by the time the big day arrived.

Anonymous said...

When my Mom was alive, the two of us were to busy serving 25-28 family to enjoy our dinner. Our Thanksgiving dinner was the next night when the leftovers were prepared by others and we had first dibs on each dish. We were thankful for blessings, and relaxing with delicious food. Zena

Christine said...

We always have Thanksgiving at my aunts house. Every year she goes all out and is tired and annoyed with everyone by the end of the day. This year her father in law is cooking so she can relax.

Kate Collins said...

Wow, that's still a big crowd! You're doing it right, Margo! I love the idea to use foil pans.

Kate Collins said...

What a great system. I remember my mother slaving all day, too, and I vowed never to take on the whole meal myself.

Kate Collins said...

And wasn't that a crazy way to enjoy a holiday? Three kinds of bread? Ugh. You'd have had to start preparing weeks ahead. Aren't you glad you don't do that anymore?

Kate Collins said...

You and your mom were Thanksgiving angels to many others, Zena. That kind of service does make one grateful for our own blessings. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Kate Collins said...

I wonder if she'll be able to relax or feel like she should be helping. I hope she soaks up the pleasure of letting someone else do it this year.

CindyD said...

My husband LOVES turkey, so I do the whole dinner two or three times every winter. This year we are invited out on Thanksgiving, so I will fix our favorites for just the two of us on Friday (I have a 22 pound turkey just for us!). Looking forward to doing it again at Christmas, when our daughter and her fiance will be with us.

Laineshots said...

Okay, am I crazy? I've always loved doing the Thanksgiving dinner, all by myself! I can't do it alone anymore, though, and I love having family involved. We don't worry about perfection, and we have a wonderful time. Son is complaining this year that he's sick of the traditional Thanksgiving meal and wants something different, so I'm serving him some representations of authentic first-Thanksgiving dishes: venison jerky, corn meal mush, smoked fish, and a salad of fresh cranberries and grapes. Think he'll complain again?

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

I miss the not having everyone for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a lot of work and very expensive but now that I am not doing it anymore, I miss it. I look back at all the good times and some arguments too. It was all being part of my family. Now I am the oldest one. I was an only child but had aunts and uncles and my parents to feed. With a cousin or two and their kids. I only had one son and now he and his wife will do Thanksgiving. Her sister will do Christmas so I only bring things like appetizers and dessert. Getting old does have it's advantages like not cooking and having to clean the whole house but it is not the same. Now I just worry about the snow we might have Wednesday Night. I have to drive Thanksgiving morning for about an hour. Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Margaret said...

Hi Kate, we have been ordering a ready to eat Thanksgiving meal (turkey, traditonal bread stuffing, mashed potatos, gravy and veggies) from a local family owned catering company--Malozzi's, for about 7 years. With this company there is not reheating. Friends who worked for Macy*, and had to work long hours around the holiday got us to try it. We have never looked back. The turkey is cooked in those big catering convection ovens and is quickly shrink wrapped, it is so juicy. And the stuffing, potatos and gravy are "real" and homemade. Althoug we were nervous at first, we enjoyed it more than we expected. Now there are more than 25 restaurants in our area offering this and more and more people in our area are ordering. Malozzi's limit it to 100 orders and you have to select a pick up time, so every thing is hot and fresh.
For us it is the best of both worlds, the ease of eating a restaurant meal but still eating at home.

Aurian said...

I wish you all a very happy and delicious Thanksgiving !

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kate. This year is very different with four to five friends sharing the preparation and then sitting down together. Both a large table and a small table have blessings when people are together.
Zena