Thanksgiving is usually a time where people remember the things they are thankful for. It’s a time for families to get together over a grand meal and fellowship together. For some families, it’s about the deals and steals they can get on Black Friday. For other families, it’s a time to work off those Halloween candy calories by trotting like a turkey. But whatever your family does, Thanksgiving is definitely a MOOD by itself. Even the ballons from the Macy’s Day Parade agree that Thanksgiving has moods.
I don’t know about your family, but sometimes it’s difficult to determine WHERE to have Thanksgiving. Do I go to my in-laws home? Should we go to my mom’s house? Should there be an alternating schedule? As my life changed from single college student, to married youngster, then wife with kids and stuff, Thanksgiving has always been a Mood.
At first, we would always go to Aunt’s house. She loved hosting Thanksgiving each year. My mom, brothers, cousins, grandparents, nephews, nieces, second cousins, and family friends would all be there. We would eat, laugh, and play until the wee hours of the morning.
But as I got older and had all the kids, I preferred something a bit low key. Celebrating Thanksgiving with over 50 people became too much. There were never enough seats. Someone always wanted you to run to the store for something! The loud old uncles got louder while the rude, old aunties got just a bit sassier. And the noise! Whether you were in the living room, den, or the backyard, it was always loud. After the twins kid came along, I was done with “extra-large” family gatherings. I was ready for a mood change.
So I opted for a smaller, family Thanksgiving. But then the ugly question rose its head again: Whose house do we go to? My mother-in-law didn’t do the full spread I was used to, but she was a great host and welcomed everyone. My mother can cook like Gordon Ramsey and she was also very welcoming. So, where to go? Eventually, we ended up alternating. If we did Thanksgiving at one in-law’s home, we would do Christmas at the other in-law’s home. That worked for a few years, but then my Thanksgiving Mood changed again.
My husband and I now had 4 small kids. Packing to spend the whole day with relatives required a minor U-Haul. (Just kidding, but definitely a full SUV.) It was a major production and it always felt like I was working on Thanksgiving versus just enjoying myself. Feeding toddlers, changing diapers, pretending to listen to adult conversations, all while what I really wanted to be doing was sleeping in the guest bedroom. My hubby and I would literally communicate through “silent looks of exhaustion.” I was so over Thanksgiving, yet again. I was ready for a new mood.
Because my husband and I are the only ones who have kids between our other 4 siblings, we decided that it would be easier if we were to host Thanksgiving. I love to cook, I love to have people over, and I wouldn’t have to lug a TON of baby crap to another place; sounds like a win-win situation.
So for the next 4-5 years, I hosted Thanksgiving. I cooked delicious meals and mouthwatering desserts. My mom also pitched in so I wouldn’t have to do all of the cooking myself. My mother-in-law and hubby would take over cleanup duty! Everything was great, except the leftovers. THE LEFTOVERS! Have you ever seen Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? Remember how food was everywhere? That was my refrigerator. We were up to our ears in leftovers. I tried to do some “creative” leftover meals, but that would only entertain my palate for a couple of days. I bet you’re wondering why wouldn’t I just cook less food? I did that for one Thanksgiving.
The complaints about the lack of food rained like $1 bills on a stripper.
We bought the “good” tupperware in the hopes that people would want to take leftovers home in them. But there’s only so much turkey, ham, dressing, and pies a person’s waistline can take.
One Thanksgiving, we flipped the script completely. We went out to eat Thanksgiving dinner. We searched for restaurants serving traditional Thanksgiving meals and our family of 6 went to dinner! We tipped our server 100%, because it’s terrible to work on Thanksgiving, but at least the tip would help. The cost of our dinner and the 100% tip was nearly equal to what we would have paid in groceries. This is my favorite Thanksgiving mood. No cooking, no clean-up, no leftovers, no fighting for seats, and no all day festivities. We would watch the parade, eat a delicious dinner out, go home, and watch some football. But due to the traditionalist in my family..ahem…my mom, this Thanksgiving Mood is barely tolerated.
But whatever your Thanksgiving Mood is, let it be a happy one. It has taken my family several different Thanksgiving moods to find what works for us. So my advice to you is to just make it meaningful. And by meaningful, I really mean less stressful.
I don’t need a lot of food to remember what I’m thankful for. I don’t really need a special day to sit around and commune with family or friends. In short, I don’t really need a Thanksgiving Day. So this year, I have decided to let my kids take over Thanksgiving. Here’s the menu they decided:
Turkey w/ Cranberry Sauce
The kids would also like to invite their friends to break a piñata and play board games and video games. I’m not 100% sure this is possible, but we’re going to try.