This Thanksgiving, all the kids are scheduled to be at the “other parents'” house, leaving my husband and me the liberty of deciding where to eat on Turkey Day (it’ll be my dad’s as usual, so I guess my sense of “liberty” is a bit delusional). I’ve never had the opportunity to carve my own holiday traditions, especially with my husband’s family’s strong traditions–which, ahem, are their traditions.
With the kids becoming adults, I think I might try to create something that IS a holiday tradition, for us at least, wedged in between all the other things going on (and that will be going on) in their lives. It’ll have to be something that accommodates the demands that will be placed upon them to get to two different parent homes, and within those homes, accommodate even more bifurcated practices, not to mention whatever complexities are presented by the family circumstance of a significant other. The holiday tradition to cultivate must be one that is flexible and does not compete or usurp other traditional experiences. Meaning…if the kids will be with us for Thanksgiving, it would be unfair for the other parents to “cut-in line” and convey a big, traditional turkey spread the day before Thanksgiving….because who wants basically the same meal two days or weekends in a row. So it’s got to be something different.
And then there’s Christmas.
So here’s my experiment, this year…
a somewhere-around-Thanksgiving gathering that does not feature turkey, stuffing or pumpkin pie. That features, instead, a menu that could become known as “our” Thanksgiving tradition–with ham, sweet potatoes, roasted veggies and a dessert. Yes a holiday menu, but I’m going to try to do something a little different:
- Shrimp & Grapefruit Cocktail (William Sonoma’s Thanksgiving 1997)
- Emeril’s Fresh-baked ham with whisky and cola glaze
- Wild rice pilaf with bacon, apples and pine nuts
- Tyler Florence’s Roasted sweet potatoes with honey and cinnamon
- Alton Brown’s Not Your Mama’s Green Bean Casserole
- Portuguese Sweet Rolls
- Paula Deen’s Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping
The night-before-heading-to-Twisp, Christmas Eve throwback gathering.
- Sliced apple & cranberry salad with toasted pine nuts (William Sonoma Thanksgiving 1997)
- Cheese fondue of gruyere, emmentaler and comte with bread, sweet pickles and steamed red potatoes for dipping
- Beef broth fondue with thinly-sliced steak and shrimp
- Assorted dipping sauces
- Light, mulled white wine
- Homemade holiday cookies & champagne
I once heard someone talk about a family tradition of hand-making ravioli the day after Thanksgiving that is then frozen to save for the Christmas Eve meal the next month. Very different, but interesting, and a tradition that her children came to count-on. My goal is for the kids to think of these meals as part of their holiday mainstay–experiences that they won’t get other places. We’ll see.