The magic of the Holidays starts with Thanksgiving. I knew we stuck gold when the children ran in the kitchen to discover that we were rolling out pie dough. Each clamored to make his own special pie. We rolled out pumpkin pie shells, apple pies and cherry pies. We baked shells for lemon meringue, chocolate silk and a special pie just to remember my grandmother, mincemeat. Thanksgiving starts weeks ahead when I purchase the staples on sale: potatoes, carrots, frozen peas, flour, eggs, pumpkins, real butter and even cranberry sauce. But the week proceeding Thanksgiving is the best time for sales on celery, olives, oven bags, water chestnuts, other specialty items and of course, the turkey. We buy an extra turkey for the next holiday and count our blessings.
Thanksgiving is a time to relish each other. This often means that children learn to forgo their own special preferences during this celebration. Maybe they can expect singular treatment on their birthdays but Thanksgiving is not a time to allow preferences to force the kitchen to become a short order restaurant. Thanksgiving is a time to preserve family traditions, create memories of being together and that often requires sacrifice.
Our "Thanksgiving Dinner" is jotted down on a sheet of yellow card stock in my recipe book. We check and recheck the list when we are shopping, cooking, and setting all the food on the table. We still have flexibility to add dishes, try new recipes and introduce new favorites but we have the framework all written and it saves a lot of stress to have the Tradition recorded for use year after year.
The pies and sometimes the rolls have to be made the day before to free up the oven for the turkey Thursday morning. We also make all the salads the day before: drain the fruit for a fruit salad, make the Hawaiian and cranberry jello, make a seven layer salad (it stores 3-4 days better than a pain green salad), and do the prep fro a relish tray. Thanksgiving morning we are baking turkey, mashing potatoes, steaming carrots, heating the stuffing (assembled 2-3 days ahead of time from fresh homemade white, wheat, and cornbread and put in a casserole dish), heating green beans and setting a table with butter plates, cranberry sauce, garlands and goblets. The festive aromas and pretty tables make the eyes of the children glitter with joy. Every one (except the babies) goes without breakfast so they have an appetite worthy of the meal. When we do eat, we are really grateful to have food, friends and family with whom to share.