Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions

Traditions in my family have changed a lot over the years. The earliest Thanksgivings I remember were at my Grandparents’ home in South Pasadena. Grandma cooked the turkey, my mom and aunt helped with the side dishes, Grandpa carved and we ate the feast at an elegantly set table in the dining room. My sister and I were never allowed to wash or dry dishes because we might have broken the China. (Do you think our feelings were hurt?)
This was at my mom's on Thanksgiving morning, a long time ago.All the kids in picture are now grandparents.

At some point the holiday gathering changed to my parents’ home and as I remember it was after I was married. The dining room was smaller, but we managed to fit everyone around the table. My dad carved the turkey and yes, my sis and I were not only allowed to dry the dishes, but wash them too.

I remember one Thanksgiving that I had at our home in Oxnard. No way could our big family fit in our small dining alcove so the tables were set up in the living room. I’m sure I cooked the turkey and perhaps my dad did the carving since he was the “expert”. What I do know is my aunt brought her wonderful green beans (not the casserole that’s so popular these days but fresh green beans cooked with bacon and fresh mushrooms.) She also brought the candied sweet potatoes—no one could make them like she did.
My grandparents, parents and aunt have all passed on. My sister now lives in Las Vegas with most of her large family and I’m here in the foothills of California with part of my even larger family. Usually the dinner is at our house because the dining room is bigger with a large round table, and if there are more than 12 we can set up another table nearby.

We’ve had many people joining us for Thanksgiving dinner over the years. Many of the traditions have changed. Because there are so many and I don’t want to spend the whole time in the kitchen, I serve the meal buffet style with paper plates. 

Different members of the family bring something. This year, my daughter will do the potatoes—mashed and sweet potatoes. I cheat and buy the turkey gravy in the jars—it tastes much better than mine.  I’m going to make the green bean casserole everyone wants these days. I always make the dressing and will again. One of my granddaughters will make the pear, cream cheese and  green Jell-O that was always my mom’s contribution. We’ll have store bought rolls,  lots of olives and pickles, and I’ll make some chocolate pies and probably buy some others.

Joining hubby and me this year will be our son, my daughter and her hubby, their daughter (our granddaughter) and her hubby, their three teenagers ( our greats) and the three young men who live at their house one is another grown grandson who belongs to our youngest daughter, a young man who was a foster kid  and had nowhere to go when he aged out of the system, and another young man whose step-mother decided she didn’t want him around anymore. (He’s still in high school.) Needless to say my granddaughter and her husband are big-hearted.

I know I don’t need fancy place settings, just lots of good food for this crowd.
In 2011 we broke tradition and went to another daughter's for Thanksgiving, hubby and I are on the end, right side.

After we’ve eaten, those who want can watch football games, the rest of us will play Estimation—the card game my mother and father loved to play—and has continued on as a Thanksgiving tradition.
So what about the rest of you, anyone else have some non-traditional traditions?


  1. By the way, that's my mom in bed with all the kids. Oh how she loved her grandkids.

  2. As a kid and on into teendom, I usually ate two huge meals on Thanksgiving--one early in the day with my father's side of the family, and one in the evening with my mother's side. (Could this explain the ten extra pounds I've carried all my life?)
    When Mike and I were in radio and TV (he was a radio air personality and I was a news producer), we volunteered to work holidays after his adopted son was out on his own so that others could have family time.
    That led to the tradition of going out to eat. Now that I list one of my hobbies as "not cooking," that tradition grows stronger every year.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your Thanksgivings with us, Marilyn!

    Morgan Mandel

  4. Carolyn, I think going out to eat instead of cooking my be a real treat. Only problem is no leftovers.

    Glad you enjoyed my sharing, Morgan.

  5. I always buy my gravy, too, Marilyn! I posted on FB last week that the world can be divided into two types of people: those who can make gravy and those who can't. I find it so much easier than messing around with the drippings when the whole meal is on the table. Enjoy the day on Thursday! Maggiexo

  6. I really loved the picture of your mom and kids in the bed, mostly because I LOVE those beds we too had as kids that had the bookshelf/headboard. So functional and sort of cute in their design.

    I'm trying to find one of those for us these days and it isn't easy, at least not new ones. My spouse says he may make one, particularly since we are fond of the FL Wright/Craftsman style of furnishings and he can cook up a design that fits that way, too.

    I make my gravy, at least the first round for the main dinner, but in advance. You just need a couple of turkey thighs to roast like crazy and then you make a roux and fix it up. That can be done, and is even tastier if done, a couple of weeks ahead and then frozen until the day before!

  7. Maggie, I'm glad there is someone else like me who buys gravy. Years ago when my sis and her clan joined us for dinner, she always made the gravy. The older I get the less I feel like doing.