Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions

I love the holidays. I love the hustle and bustle and the cooking and the decorating. Although it’s much harder now to do all that with a three year old, I enjoy it just the same. There is just something about traditions and food that bring people together.

My favorite Thanksgiving memory is when all the cousins gathered around Grandma’s coffee table to eat dinner. There wasn’t room for all seven of us at the “big, grown-up table” so we had our own special table. It wasn’t very big, so we had to scrunch up next to one another and, yes, of course there was the traditional, “She touched me!” or “Mom, Brian’s throwing peas at me!” The only food we got to pass to one another was the ketchup bottle – which me and my cousin Stephanie use to fight over because we still, to this day, eat ketchup on everything! The “cousins table” was always placed parallel to the “grown-up table” in the dining room. So for a while, our entire family was together, in one room, doing the same thing (except the pea throwing), enjoying and loving each other’s company – and recipes.

I remember the very first Thanksgiving I got to sit at the “grown up” table. I was about eleven and I remember thinking as I sat on that stool between my mom and dad that, yes, indeed! I had arrived! Pass me those mashed tators!! The only reason I got to sit at the big table was because some of our family couldn’t be there for dinner, but I didn’t care. I was finally allowed at the “grown up” table!

My Grandmother went all out for Thanksgiving, too. My mom and her sisters pitched in with some of the side dishes and desserts. I can remember my mom standing in the kitchen cutting up those pecans for her great pecan pie the night before. I can also remember when I was old enough to chop the pecans for her and I hated that! It wasn’t like getting to sit at the “grown up” table, that’s for sure. Mom always made the chocolate pie, too, and I insisted that she put cool whip on top instead of meringue because I hated meringue. That’s the least she could do for me for chopping her pecans.

When I was in college, mom made her first turkey and first batch of dressing for Thanksgiving at our own house. She was bound and determined she was going to do it! Mom and I laughed so hard that year! When she unwrapped the turkey, she just stared at it in the sink and asked me, “Laura, what am I going to do with this bird?!” Somehow, mom’s gotten through it every year since.

Last year, mom asked me if I was going to spend the night on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I said, “Why?” Mom said, “Because I think it’s about time YOU learned how to cook a bird for Thanksgiving.” You should have seen the look on my face. I was like, no way, Hosea! I told her that I would have Courmier’s or Randall’s on speed dial when I got old enough to cook a turkey.

Today I am thankful for my entire family, for the day of Thanksgiving and what it means to everyone, for finally being “allowed” to be a grown up, for cool whip, and most of all, not being old enough to make the turkey this year!

So what are some of your family Thanksgiving Day traditions and recipes?



  1. Anonymous6:35 PM

    Oh what sweet memories you have Laura!! Your mom sounds so funny about the turkey! And you haven't made a turkey yet?!? LOL! Anyway, I just love Thanksgiving too, for the togetherness of family and the comfort food I grew up with! Our Thanksgiving traditions are pretty basic, we wake up to homemade fruit salad that I make the night before and eat light before our big meal around 5. Mashed potatoes, wild rice, Yams, Turkey, Giblet Gravy, Corn Souffle', Broccoli Casserole, and Paula Dean's Cheddar biscuits, all with Martinelli's sprakling cider round out our traditional meal! Oh and can't forget my homemade pumpkin pies! We usually watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles while everything is cooking and get to bed early because my mom and I are up at the crack of dawn for shopping those early bird specials! Then we usually set up the Christmas tree and decorate for Christmas the rest of the weekend. Okay, you're making me excited for Thanksgiving,lol!

  2. Anonymous6:36 PM

    Oh yeah, I don't like Meringue either! Cool whip or whip cream ALL the way!!! That chocolate pie sounds awesome!!

  3. those sound like wonderful memories. I miss my family. Though this year I will be at the each for thanksgiving, I can't complain too much. I cook a pretty good turkey--but I really don't even like turkey!

  4. I loved this post! :) I bet you would bake a wonderful turkey! :)

  5. We always had the kid table and the grown up table...and I miss sitting at the kid table so much that I have been known to join them!

    Another wonderful family memory is to start cooking the turky early Thanksgiving that you wake up with the house smelling so yummy! We also watch the parade followed by football.

  6. Laura - Some advice - STAY AWAY FROM THE BIRD! lol! As you know, me and my sisters take turns for the family holiday get togethers. The hostess always has the pleasure of cooking "The Bird". My first Thanksgiving at our house, I cooked the turkey. Don't get me wrong, it didn't turn out like the Griswalds on "Christmas Vacation", but I was so sick of the baked smell in the house. In order to have this huge 20-25 lb. turkey ready for brunch, I had to start cooking it before we went to bed that night. Yuck! I got up sick early the next morning because of the smell. Thank goodness the next time we had Thanksgiving, we were introduced to fried turkey and that's what we did from then on. Plus, I think a fried turkey is so moist compared to a baked turkey.

    I'm going to have to hand down the traditional foods for someone else to cook this year. I usely baked the pecan, chocolate, & of course pumpkin pies. I don't think I'm going to be able to do that this year. By the way, I agree with you. I love cool whip much more than merigue.

  7. You have a lot more traffic than my blog does, so I thought I'd leave a comment here so all your lovely mommy readers can see it...

    If you go to and register with snapfish (or are already registered), you can get a credit for a free photobook! You still have to pay shipping which is like $7, but that's better than the regular $30! Anyway, just thought I'd pass it along! The deadline to make them is midnight Friday, I believe.

  8. Those are really sweet memories!! I loved having Thanksgiving with my grandma when I was growing up! She always cooked fried okra and I think about her to this day when I have any!!

  9. I loved this post and your memories were so sweet and special!

    I just LOVE Thanksgiving. It seriously might be my very favorite holiday.All that good food, being with's just ALL good.

    Some of my fave traditions or memories? The best tradition is how we all write down things were thankful for (I put out a basket two weeks before Thanksgiving and everyone writes things down) and then read them out loud on Thanksgiving morning. It helps keep things in perspective, for sure!

    And we usually hae a lot of family at Thanksgiving time. This year, I have my grandmother, aunts and uncles and cousins all from Texas coming to parents in Tuscaloosa. I CANNOT WAIT to see them all!! (And, oh yeah...Gary's grandmother's dressing, and my Mom's sweet potato pie! Yumm!)

  10. I love this time of year!!!! This year I'm cooking the turkey. YIKES!!!

  11. I loved reading your Thanksgiving memories! We are hosting this year, and I am really looking forward to it. Joe is a great cook, so he will be making our turkey. It is so good that I could eat it every week! And I'll be rounding out the meal with sides and dessert. Yum!! I'll post recipes after the holiday.

  12. Gentry eats ketchup on EVERTHING, too! It tickles my whole family!