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.
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!
Sunny and in the upper 60’s today. I walked outside this morning and let out this huge breath. Ahhh. Hello, Autumn. Hello, October. My favorite month in my favorite season. Boneregard, my 6 foot skeleton, is going out on the balcony this evening. During the Halloween season, he waves at people to get them in the spirit. Ok, he doesn’t really wave but his arm is in the air like he’s waving. You get the idea.
For Halloween this year, I’m going to be a tooth fairy. Not the one from the Guardians movie but just a simple tooth fairy. I’m going to get a pink shirt, leggings and a tutu. Stick on some fairy wings, a cheap plastic crown, and magic up a tooth wand, and I’ll be rocking the tooth fairy look. I’m thinking about getting a leather pouch and filling it will chocolate coins to give to my coworkers and trick or treaters. Of course, I require a tooth in exchange. Hold still while I knock one out.
I need to get some more Halloween decoration review posts up. I still have the videos from Target and now pictures from Hobby Lobby and Home Goods to share. Then I want to get another post of my Colorado vacation up, which I’ve been meaning to do forever. And I have a couple of book reviews I should type up and post. Man, I’m lazy. Where did the time go?
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!
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.)
Welcome to the Virtual Advent Blog Tour 2011!
Question: This calendar traditionally helps count down the days until Christmas, and behind each number it contains a prize.
Answer: Advent calendar.
Christmas and the holidays have always been understated in my family. I’m afraid you won’t be finding a post about a lot of big Christmas traditions here. My family is small with just my nuclear family (mother, father, and brother) and only a few extended family members (maternal grandparents and my uncle and aunt). When I was a child, we went to my maternal grandparents’ house for the holidays. Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving were all marked with days at their house and meals taken together. I’ve never really thought my family very big on traditions and have often felt a little disappointed by this.
But I realized that even if they were small, my family had traditions too. Meeting at my grandparents’ house in itself was a tradition. It was always a very serious decision to decide which day we were going to go over. Would we meet on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Then my mother and my uncle (her brother) had to decide who was going to bring what to the holiday feast. Who would bring what pie and if my mother was going to bring Russian tea cakes or not. My grandmother cooked. Boy, did my grandmother cook.
Question: In what country did the Advent calendar originate?
My grandmother made the best chicken and, try as I might, I can never make my chicken taste the same. I will always remember going to her house and walking into the kitchen to find all those pots and pans bubbling on the stove and both of the double ovens fired up. Her kitchen had a green tile backsplash and a green stovetop and green doors on the ovens. There was even a green rug in front of the sink. She used to pull a stool into the kitchen so I could get up on the counter and sit to watch her cook.
Question: How do you say “Merry Christmas” in French?
Answer: Joyeux Noël.
Another tradition we had was my grandparents’ Christmas tree. It wasn’t that we all helped decorated it or anything. It was always up before we arrived. But the tree’s mere presence was a tradition. You see, it had green lights. As a child I never realized how strange our tree was but friends often exclaimed how odd a Christmas tree with green light was when they saw pictures. My grandmother had these curious little red and white ornaments. To think about it, the tree must have clashed horribly with itself but I loved that tree. As a child I remember sitting in front of its soft green light and pretending I was on the moon or in fairyland.
Question: How do you say “Merry Christmas” in Spanish?
Answer: Feliz Navidad.
I miss those little traditions that I didn’t even know were traditions until they were gone. There is no grandparents’ house anymore these days. There is just my parents and brother now. We’ll probably have dinner together on Christmas and exchange a few gifts. Nothing special, nothing really big. But that’s a tradition now too.
Merry Christmas big and small!
Sift together and set aside:
2 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup softened butter
½ cup Crisco (shortening)
Add to this:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon water
Beat thoroughly, then beat in 2 eggs.
Slowly add flour mixture you set aside before.
Remove beaters and add 12 oz. package of chocolate chips plus 1 cup chopped pecans if desired.
Drop by ½ teaspoon on greased cookie sheet (or on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper).
Bake 375 for about 8 minutes. Watch for burning on bottom of cookies if using a dark pan!
Remove, cool slightly, and enjoy warm and gooey!
Thank you for joining me!