The past few years, my family has been having what some people would call a “non-traditional” Thanksgiving. The reason for this is two-fold.
First: We’re lazy. Wow, are we lazy. When I was younger, a kid or a teenage, we were less lazy. But I’m now thirty-mumble-mumble and the lazy is full blown.
Second: My family has shrunk. I’ve always had a small family. It took me until I was like fifteen to realize I should have two sets of grandparents. I had my maternal grandparents but, in my mind, my Dad burst forth from the bowels of Hell fully formed. (Not really. He wasn’t that bad, just a grouch with a short temper.) But we lost my grandparents many years ago and then my Mom in 2014 to cancer. So, for a little while it was just my Dad, my brother, and I for holidays and it just seemed like so much effort. We still met but the year my Mom died, we had Chinese food. It was all we had energy for.
Since then, my brother married and we have one more person at the dinner table for holidays. But my Dad’s health has declined, so much so that a big to-do is pretty much beyond him. However, he still lives in the house I grew up in (we’re trying to move him to the same apartment complex as me but it has to be first floor and there is a long waiting list) and that house is pretty much the only place that will fit four people. We could go to my brother’s house but it’s always a mess and even the short drive is too much for my Dad. So, short and simple has been the word for holidays.
Two years ago we ordered our Thanksgiving dinner from Whole Foods. It came with a turkey and sides. My brother and sister in law actually had to return to Whole Foods because the server had forgotten a couple of sides. So, pro-tip, if you order your Thanksgiving meal, and there are a lot of places that will do that, always check everything before you leave the store. It just might save you the hassle of a trip back.
The dinner from Whole Foods was ok. The sides would good but for some reason the turkey didn’t have any skin. It was cooked (actually, I think it was smoked) but we had to put it in the oven to give it a little color and flavor. I wouldn’t do it again.
Last year we did a beef roast in a crock pot and my sister in law and I made sides. My brother made deviled eggs because that’s just what he does for holidays. It was a very nice Thanksgiving. (I was also invited to my sister in law’s family’s house for Thanksgiving dinner and was completely overwhelmed with how large her family is. I mean, it was only nine people including myself, but it was way more than I was used to.) Pro-tip, if you are looking for hassle free holiday meals, the crock pot is your friend. Embrace the crock pot.
It’s ok to have a non-traditional Thanksgiving, or any holiday for that matter. What matters is family. Even if that family is small or far away, it still matters. Even if that family is not related by blood or has four legs and a wet nose. Have Thanksgiving with your boyfriend or girlfriend curled up on the couch with a movie and pizza. Have Thanksgiving with your best friend with a board game and mac&cheese. Put the cat’s bowl on the table, just this once, while you eat cereal. Host a community potluck dinner. Skype and chat with friends you only know over the internet while eating pizza rolls. Attend a Friendsgiving. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you remember that we are all human beings and we are all in this together.
Ideas for non-traditional Thanksgivings:
- Finger foods. Mozzarella sticks. Potato skins. Stuffed jalapeños. Frozen pizza. Queso dip and tortilla chips. Anything that’s easy and can be heated up in the oven or microwave.
- Movies Marathon. Get a couple bags of microwave popcorn and some boxes of candy from the dollar store and have a movie marathon. Food an entertainment.
- Potluck. Have everyone bring a dish and spread around the work.
- Order dinner. Full Thanksgiving meals can be ordered from places like Whole Foods, Dierbergs, Kroger, other large grocery stores, and some restaurants.
- Got to a restaurant. Most places are closed on Thanksgiving but wait a day or two and go out. I’ve more than once waited until the Saturday after and gone out with a couple people to whatever restaurant hit out fancy.
- Friendsgiving. They’ve become popular the last couple of years. Invite your friends over for Thanksgiving and spend the holiday with people you actually like.
But the point is that Thanksgiving does not have to be your blood relatives sitting around a table eating turkey, potatoes, and the green bean casserole your aunt brought but nobody will eat because it tastes weird. Gather. Gather with friends. Gather with co-workers. Gather with neighbors. Just gather with other human beings and be together.
The setting is not important. The food is not important. How you gather with others is not important. Just gather.
Merry Christmas! We have reached the last day of the holiday blogging challenge hosted by Rachel of Parajunkee. Click to her site and check out the other bloggers who posted.
Our Day 7 prompt is: A Holiday Wish
Big one. I’m going to be cliché and say ‘peace’. But, small peace. World peace is asking a little much, I know. Although I wish for that too. But I really wish for small peace. I wish for peace for my friend who has insomnia and anxiety. I wish for peace for my friend who broke up with her boyfriend. I wish for peace for my other friend who broke up with his boyfriend. (No, that’s not a typo.) I wish for peace for my friend who is the main breadwinner in her household and has a less than stellar husband. I wish you all peace. Peace from your nightmares. Peace from your fear. Peace from your own mind and body.
I wish for peace in my city, where our murder rate is the highest its ever been. I wish for peace for people, who seem to have forgotten that we all live on this planet together. I wish you peace from anger. I wish you peace from sadness. I wish you peace from strife. I wish you peace from hardship. I wish you peace in your soul.
I wish you the small peace that settles in your chest and glows warm.
Be peaceful. Merry Christmas, everyone!
And here we arrive at Day 6 of the holiday blogging challenge, hosted by Rachel of Parajunkee. Just another day to go before it’s Christmas! I hope everyone is ready.
The Day 6 prompt is: Your Favorite Holiday Book
This is kind of like the other book question but I have a different answer. My favorite book is How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss! Come on. You know that green puffball makes you smile.
I mean, the original movie was made in 1966 and it’s still awesome. It’s older than me and I still make an effort to watch it at least once during Christmas. I’ve already seen it twice this year. I also really like the 2000 movie with Jim Carrey. Just not as much as I like the cartoon. I’ve been watching the cartoon since I was a little kid.
A very long time ago, I had a copy of How The Grinch Stole Christmas that my Grandma would read to me. I can still remember sprawling in her lap in the white chair in the second bedroom, that had orange carpet because it was decorated in the 70’s, and following her finger along the words as she read them out loud. That woman is the sole reason I love to read as much as I do. I don’t know what happened to it. It was probably given away to charity or thrown away when I was a teenager and too dumb to be sentimental about old books.
Merry Christmas! Go read to your kids.
Rachel over at Parajunkee is putting on a 7 day holiday blogging challenge to make posting during the busy holiday season a little easier.
Our Day 5 prompt is: Share a Holiday Tradition
You see, this is why I don’t post a lot during the holidays. My family doesn’t really have any traditions. Unless you want to count eating. We always meet for a meal on holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Turkey on Thanksgiving and roast beef on Christmas. But other than that, there isn’t anything else.
We never put the tree up together or any of the other decorations. I was the one who hauled everything upstairs and put it up. When I turned 20, I didn’t want to bother and two days before Christmas my Mom finally noticed the tree wasn’t up. The passive aggressive that year was astonishing. We don’t usually buy each other presents either. The parents used to give my brother and I some money but that was it. (Don’t get me wrong; money is very appreciated. Adulting is hard.) I think this year was the first time I’ve gone out to buy present for my Dad and brother since I was a teenager. This is mostly my brother’s girlfriend’s influence.
Oh, we do have one tradition that started about a decade ago. (Oh god. I’m old. How did that happen?) Scratchers tickets. We usually get a stack of $1 scratchers and a couple $10 scratchers and split them evenly. Fish out some pennies and go to town. Nobody has won anything over a couple of dollars yet but we live in hope.
Rachel from Parajunkee is hosting a holiday blogging challenge. Follow these 7 prompts for some quick and easy post during the hectic holiday times.
Our Day 4 prompt is: Holiday Fave Recipe.
I’m going to share with you my grandmother’s recipe for chocolate cake. I can’t eat it anymore and I haven’t taken the time to try and make a gluten free version (because, honestly, anything I make with gluten free flour is going to pale against the memory of her chocolate cake and I’m hesitant to even try). So, I’m going to give you my grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe and you are going to make it and enjoy it and that way her cake will go on as it was meant to. (sniffle) Enjoy the cake for me, people.
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 cup water
- 7 tablespoons cocoa
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, and salt. You can shift this if you want but I never bother.
Heat and bring to boil the butter, water, and cocoa. Removed and stir until melted. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture slowly while beating. I guess you could do this by hand but I always use an electric stand mixer.
Scrap down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and buttermilk. Beat until well mixed and then pour into a 9×13 pan you’ve sprayed with Pam or whatever cooking spray you have on hand.
Bake about 35 minutes. Test by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it’s clean when removed, it’s done.
Allow to cool completely before icing.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat the butter, milk, and cocoa until melted. You are not looking for a boil here. Then whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth, no lumps.
Pour hot icing over the cooled cake. The icing is basically chocolate ganache, so allow to cool and set for about 20 minutes. The icing should not slosh around and look shiny when set.
I’m drooling now. I actually prefer to eat this chilled. So into the refrigerator it goes for me. But my family eats it room temp too.
* If your cake comes out with a hump in the middle, you will need to level it with a knife or offset spatula. Otherwise your icing will pool along the outside.
I love it when Halloween falls on a weekend. Kids and adults alike can stay out and have fun without having to worry about finishing homework and getting up for school in the morning. Parents aren’t rushing home from work, trying to get some food into their kids while stuffing them into costumes to go trick or treating. They can make a whole day of it. Unfortunately, it looks like it might rain today where I live. I know, bummer.
I’m going as the tooth fairy! Not the one from The Guardians. I can’t imagine dealing with all those feathers. Just a normal tooth fairy. I’ve got pink pants, a shirt, and tutu and then I’m wearing a silver crown, pink/purple wings, and carrying a little bag with chocolate coins. I’ve also got a tooth necklace and some teeth earrings. And I have a little plastic toy hammer. Because I need a tooth in exchange for the chocolate coins. It’s only fair.
I really wish Halloween was bigger. People barely decorate anymore. And I mean decorate as in more than just a pumpkin on the porch. Halloween is such an awesome holiday and it’s so under appreciated. There should be more things to do for Halloween. We’re did some activates at work because Cathy and I love Halloween and it’s like pulling teeth to get anyone to do anything. It drives me nuts! Everybody should be dressing up and be excited to play games and win things. Instead, I wonder why I’m bothering. Grouches.
Well, stay dry, stay warm, and stay spooky, people! Happy Halloween!
I hope everyone had good weather for their Easter activities. It’s cool but sunny where I am. The park on the other side of the creek is having an egg hunt, so I was awoken at 9am by the echoes of screaming children. Not the best wakeup call I’ve ever had. No plans for the day. My mother is getting over a cold, so no dinner plans with the family. I bought a small pot roast for myself and it’s cooking away in the crock pot. That one roast will be good for several meals for me. I will be spending my day doing dishes and laundry.
My spot of family trouble is over. (An aunt admittied into the hospital for chest pains and then an emergency surgery for a clogged artery. She’s fine and should return home in a few days.) So, I should return to normal posting this week. I hope everyone else is enjoying time with family. Now, I’m off to carve the sacrificial chocolate bunny. Have a good day!
Beltane, or May Day if you wish, is celebrated on May 1st. Beltane is the last of the spring festivals and marks the beginning of the warmer months of planting and the growing season. It’s one of the festivals that I like to call the Big Four, the others being Mabon, Samhain, and Yule. Beltane is the festival when we honor life and this is the time when the Goddess now takes the God as her Consort. Revelers dance the May Pole and crown a May Queen. (I’ve done the May Pole dance several times, although it’s harder than it looks.) Many will build huge bonfires, or bale-fires, and it’s tradition to drive livestock between two bonfires to purify them and bring good luck. Household fires would be extinguished and then relit with the ceremonial bonfires. My own town has a May Day celebration with a pole, funnel cakes, and a small fair and petting zoo.
There is a very nice slideshow from MSN Glo that can be found here.
Blessed Be, everyone!
Today is the first day of spring, officially the spring equinox or Ostara. It’s typically celebrated either on March 20th or 21st and is the day when light and dark are equal. The Goddess is in her Maiden aspect and she and the young God are just beginning. This is the time of year when Pagans turn their attentions to outside pursuits and most begin the work of gardening in earnest. The threat of frost is less and most Pagans have already begun their seedlings for this year and started to turn-over gardens. This is a time of fertility and growth. The world is just coming alive and leaving the cold behind. Already the blooming trees in my area are a riot of color and the garden centers have put out their young plants for purchase. (It also got so hot in my apartment over the weekend when we had 80 degree weather that I had to turn on the air conditioner, much to my displeasure.)