For much of my adult life, Thanksgiving has been far and away my favorite holiday. The reasons for that have morphed over the years.
As a kid, I grew up with massive extended family Thanksgiving meals. The food was always great, it was always fun being with relatives and enjoying a festive holiday that is relatively free of the muss and fuss of louder holidays like Christmas.
In those days, I sort of liked the hectic nature of the holiday, as we would dash around from one family gathering to another, and loved the food even though there were so many of us, I can remember quite a few Thanksgiving meals eaten on a random office chair, piano bench or whatever corner of my grandmother’s house I could find.
Since Amelia was born, we’ve taken to doing much more low-key Thanksgivings, which I now enjoy tremendously. For one, I love to cook and Thanksgiving feast is probably my favorite meal to cook, so doing our own thing meant that I actually got to do the cooking. For me, that is a large part of the fun.
Also, I love the more relaxed, focused nature of the day. Whether it’s a small group or just our immediate family, it’s nice to be able to enjoy quiet conversations and focus on the true meaning of the day…gratitude.
Don’t get me wrong, the turkey and the football are all great. But this year in particular, I am taking the gratitude element of Thanksgiving very, very seriously. This has been an unusual and very difficult year for everyone. That has meant something different for each one of us. It’s been stressful, scary, confusing and difficult on so many levels. And there is a palpable frustration that Thanksgiving represents yet another moment in 2020 that we don’t get to seek the comfort of normalcy.
And as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am certainly disappointed and sad that we couldn’t have the family get together we were so looking forward to. But I also know that the very concept of gratitude as philosophy is the ability to look past the disappointing, sad or difficult things and focus instead on the things we can be thankful for.
Life doesn’t have to be perfect. In spite of what we may think, nobody has it easy. But there is always good to be found. In my case, sure, the year has been a flurry of confusion, challenge, anxiety, frustration and fear. We’ve faced real obstacles as a family, as anyone else reading this also has, but what’s kept us going is the foundational good we have.
And on Thanksgiving, I thought a lot about that. Watching my kids play and watch the Thanksgiving parade, hearing the dogs play, smelling the amazing food cooking and laughing with my wife as we talked and cooked together. I could go on and on, of course, but these are the important things. So in the spirit of the day, I committed to enjoying every moment of it.
It was a beautiful day in Colorado, so we all got outside to take a nice walk around the neighborhood. Several large snowmen had been built all around the park, and the kids rushed to check each one out.
We even made a quick stop at the park.
Back home, I was on turkey watch, carefully monitoring the temperature. I take pride in my turkey, and I won’t like to you folks…last year’s was a little dry. I’ll be damned if I am going to let that happen again, so I was a little fretful about that. But, in the end, I’m pleased to say it came out really well and even met my rather ridiculous self-expectations.
Ameelia and Erin had gotten the table all set and ready, and our spread was ready to go. Erin made an out of this world sweet potato casserole and amazing mashed potatoes, and I was in charge of the turkey, stuffing, gravy, Brussels sprouts, and opening the can of Ocean Spray cranberry jelly.
While we spent much of the day in sweats, we did at least put on nice clothes for an hour to make the holiday ocassion.
It was quite a feast we had laid out, and as you can see by my plate, I ate entirely too much.
We’ve been making basically the same Thanksgiving meal for about 5 or 6 years, and I would say this wall to wall this was one of our best. The kids also gave it good marks. It’s not McDonald’s or pizza, but I guess it’ll do in a pinch.
We finished off with some pumpkin and pecan pie that Erin had made the day before. Also incredible. And holy cow was I full. After we cleaned up, I took a quick walk with Asta which at least helped me burn off probably 50 of the 3000 calories I had just eaten.
I finished off the night by cleaning off the rest of the turkey for leftovers and putting the carcass on the stove to make stock. I love it because we are getting the most out of the turkey, and it also makes the house smell awesome for a few more hours.
It was a really good Thanksgiving, and I am greateful for such a special day and all we have. I saw plenty of posts on social media that give me hope that lots of other folks out there also found ways to make the very most of the holiday in this most unusual of years. I am thankful for the positive spirit I see out there and confident in better days ahead.