Sunday Social ~ Thanksgiving Traditions

Hello, everyone!  I’m sorry I haven’t been very social for the past few weeks.  My day job’s been very demanding recently and I’ve had to choose between work, sleep, writing and social media.  Unfortunately, social media and sleep have gotten the short end of the stick.  But things have eased up a bit this weekend, so I wanted to be social again, especially with Thanksgiving so near.

647px-EasternWildTurkey

Thanksgiving has always been a day of traditions in my family.  When I was little it was the one holiday my father didn’t have to work (he worked shift work and always traded to work Christmas so he could get paid double time).  So Thanksgiving was the one day in the year my parents and I could be together all day, and especially to sit down and eat together.  Therefore, a lot of traditions grew up around this day.

I’d get up to watch the Thanksgiving Day parades while my mother finished getting the dinner ready.  We always ate at the stroke of noon, so her morning was very busy.  The800px-Macys-parade-1979 menu remained the same throughout my childhood, another tradition.  My father had a garden during the summer, so Thanksgiving was a time when all that bounty showed up on the table:  fresh butterbeans, snaps (green beans), squash, potatoes for the potato salad, sweet potatoes, and collards.  There was also deviled eggs, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, hot brown ‘n’ serve rolls, pumpkin pie, and the turkey of course.  Quite a feast for just three people! (We ate leftovers for days!)

The dinner table was always set with one particular linen tablecloth and cloth napkins, dishes and glasses only used at that one meal, and particular silverware only used on this day.  I can see that table in my mind’s eye and it always makes me feel like I am home.

Christmas_table

I must say an additional word about two dishes:  the cornbread dressing and the collards.  The dressing, or stuffing, was my father’s mother’s recipe and was a two day affair.  You had to cook the cornbread with onions and celery the day before, then use that as the basis for the cakes you made on Thanksgiving day.  Yes, the dressing was made into little cakes using the cornbread mixture, Peppridge Farm stuffing mix and water from the turkey plus spices and baked.  I can taste the sage right now.

The other dish that says Thanksgiving like nothing else to me is collards.  My father made the best collards that anyone has tasted.  He grew them in his garden and froze them, so we had them year round.  He cooked them originally in a steel pressure cooker that no one was allowed to touch but him.  They were seasoned with smoked hog jowls and came out so tender they would melt in your mouth.  Eventually, the pressure cooker became so old the gaskets for it were no longer available and he adapted the recipe to the crock pot, cooking the collards on low for 24 hours.  Still tender and mouth-watering.  It’s the one dish of his I learned to make and now at family gatherings (like this Thanksgiving) I am looked to to carry on the tradition of my father’s collards.  It is a task I take with great seriousness and look to with great anticipation (and appetite!).

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with friends and family, and traditions of your own.  Please share a Thanksgiving tradition if you like.  I always wonder what other folks do on this day devoted to family.

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15 Responses to Sunday Social ~ Thanksgiving Traditions

  1. With my daughters living their grown-up lives, we don’t have a big family Thanksgiving anymore. And, of course, here in Canada, Thanksgiving is in October, not November. That won’t stop us ex-pats from having a mini-celebration. This year it’ll be with turkey thighs, veggies, and pie. We don’t get the time off, so it won’t really seem like a holiday, except for our US friends’ wonderful Facebook posts.

    When I was young, we had “big” family celebrations. My family was pretty small, so that would be 10 people or so. I remember those years fondly. My mom used to get up at 6 a.m. to start the turkey and would cook all day. Grandma would bring the pies, and my Aunt Daisy would always bring jello salad. 🙂 Those were wonderful days. I wish my family was still around to share them again.

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  2. Melissa Keir says:

    When I was younger we did the big family meal at my home. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins all came. We had two tables. The adult table and the kid table. You knew you made it when you got to sit at the adult table!

    After my mom died and with most of my family also gone, my dad got rid of the table and now we go to a restaurant. It’s a wonderful time with family and you’re right… no leftovers but also no dishes to wash.

    Then on Saturday, we have another Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. I make the sweet potatoes. This time, we have leftovers and another wonderful time with family.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  3. gemmabrocato says:

    Growing up, my mom used to get out of bed at 5 am to start the turkey cooking. By the time the rest of the family got up, the house smelled wonderful. We ate in the early afternoon and then spent time watching football (I have four brothers) or playing games. This year, we’re going to a restaurant. Which is a little sad. At least there won’t be any dishes to clean up.

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      After my Dad died we started going to Berkley Springs in West Virginia and having dinner at a lodge with a friend we only got to see that one day out of the year. Afterwards we’d play Scrabble (I’m now officially titled the Scrabble Whore) and laugh our asses off. Last year and this one the family has gathered at my aunt’s, so we’ve gone back to that sort of tradition. Restaurant Thanksgivings can be wonderful if there’s good food and family there. Happy Thanksgiving, Gemma!

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  4. lizaoconnor says:

    Your Thanksgiving sounds so lovely. Mine were always crazy, but I did used to make what we called basketball rolls. I would use bread doe and the little balls would rise into enormous size rolls four inches tall and wide. Everyone would complain and tease my lack of cooking skills, but now that I can no longer afford to go home, they miss those rolls.

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  5. When I lived with my paternal grandparents, Thanksgiving was a huge affaire. I carried that over to my married life. Thanksgiving was shared with friends. Lots of them. I used to cook for 5 days, and we had as many as 40 people for dinner. I loved it. Now I’m cooking for 3 and it’s just not the same.
    Happy Thanksgiving, Jenna.

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    • lizaoconnor says:

      40 peeps? Thats a banquet, not a Thanksgiving dinner. How do you even have plates for 40 people. I would have to ask them to bring their own plates, glasses and eating utensils, along with whatever they wished to eat…oh and bring a chair and eating tray and wear warm coats and mittens because they won’t all fit in my house, so last to arrive must gather in the backyard, and if today is a good rep for Thanksgiving, it’s 21 and high wind, so those outside are going to eat frozen food,

      No, it’s best Jess and I eat turkey chili or Salmon on Thanksgiving day.

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      • Jenna Jaxon says:

        Turkey chili I could get behind, but salmon on Thanksgiving is not even o my radar. I had goose for Thanksgiving once in grad school–I called it the year without Thanksgiving. LOL Hope you and Jess have a Happy Turkey Day–even if without the turkey. 🙂

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      Your Thanksgiving sounds close to what mine will be this year. My father’s side of the family is gathering from the four corners–well from Florida and Michigan at least–and while there won’t be 40 people, there’ll be close to 25. Of course I’m bringing the collards. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Ella!

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