Planning to celebrate Thanksgiving

How We Celebrate Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is less than a week away and the preparations are in full swing! So, I thought it’d be fun to share with you how our family chooses to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Since we all enjoy being in the kitchen and helping cook the big meal, we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving together.

Starting by sitting down as a family, usually about a week before the big day, and writing down what we want to eat on Thanksgiving. We create a menu for the day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We talk about what foods we consider “Thanksgiving staples”–the must-haves. Then we look at what foods we’ve had in the past, and what new recipes we may want to try.

Several years back we went through all the recipes and found all the Thanksgiving recipes. If we’ve ever cooked it for Thanksgiving we wrote it in a Word Document adding some clip art images for decoration. Then we printed them out and put them in a binder along with a summary of how our family celebrates Thanksgiving. Almost like a scrapbook without all the fancy stickers, paper, and family photos.

Then we take inventory.

Making sure all the recipes are printed out or located and marked in the cookbook. Looking in the freezer and pantry and seeing what we already have. Then we make our shopping list. And the fun begins!

Usually a day or so before we celebrate Thanksgiving we’ll figure out what time we want to eat–typically somewhere between 1-3 P.M…Not too late for lunch but early enough to enjoy leftovers!

In the old house, we had two ovens making planning and cooking Thanksgiving Dinner a little easier. Now, we only have one oven. 😪 Before Great-Grandma died she gave us her big roaster. For a while, that’s what we’d use to cook the turkey. Here lately, Bradley has enjoyed smoking the turkey. Getting it on early in the morning or late the night before. This frees up the oven.

Then we’ll work backwards. We know roughly what time the turkey will be done so we plan the side dishes that go in the oven based on time and temperature. For example, if the turkey will be done by 2, and the Greenbean casserole and Corn Pudding both bake at 350°. The Corn Pudding bakes for 60 minutes, and the Greenbean Casserole takes 35 minutes. We put the Corn Pudding in at 1 and the Greenbean Casserole at 1:25 to make sure everything is hot by 2.

After we eat we quickly change into our Christmas Jammies. We grab our pillows and favorite blanket, put in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and take a nice long nap!

Then Friday, the festivities continue!

Mom’s family gets together in Akron to celebrate Thanksgiving. For the last 8 or 9 years, we’ve met at a Townhall near my Grandparents’ house. We’ve been blessed that almost every family member and a few family friends have been able to attend through the years!

Traveling is a little more challenging than it used to be when we were younger…but it’s worth it! We rarely board the dogs. The few times that we’ve had to for overnight trips Trinity hated it. She refused to go in until we left and would watch us leave with these sad pitiful eyes. That look scarred us and so we’ve looked for other alternatives to boarding. When we travel to Akron Grandma and Grandpa have offered to let us keep Trinity, Jasper, and now Wyatt at their house for the day.

As we’ve continued to do day trips with the dogs we’ve created a system that makes it a little easier.

Each dog has a backpack. Inside we’ve filled the bag with a blanket, a few of their favorite toys, a water bottle, a couple of baggies with food, and collapsible food and water bowls. They do really well, playing with toys or napping on the way up and on the way back. We feed them their dinner before we leave Grandma and Grandpa’s. Usually, we have to stop once on the way home to let them use the bathroom if they get antsy, if they’re fairly quiet and content we’ll just drive straight through.

We drop the dogs off at Grandma and Grandpa’s before we head to the Townhall.

Everyone brings something to the meal. My Uncle brings Stuffed Mushrooms, my aunt will bring a crockpot of Mashed Potatoes, etc. We usually bring a Crockpot of Great-Grandma’s Chicken and Noodles. We used to use an inverter (pictured). Now we use a Portable Power Station (Similar Here) and use our crockpot that has a locking lid, put them into the trunk, and finish cooking the noodles as we drive!

Cooking Noodles_with text

Once everyone arrives and the food is done we’ll say and prayer and dig in! We’ll laugh and talk and spend the meal visiting. Then after dinner, Grandma brings supplies to make several different crafts and those that want to can make a craft or two. Once our crafts are completed we’ll usually head out to pick up the dogs and head home. It makes for a long day but it’s worth it.

Grandpa always says that Jake-a-Roo loved to celebrate Thanksgiving the most because all the family was together.

Though he’s not with us anymore, I’m sure both he and Great-Grandma would be proud of the way that Grandma and Grandpa have carried on their legacy. Gathering the family together, feeding us well, and sending us all home with leftovers. Opening themselves and the family’s traditions to other family members, friends (and future family members) and treating them all like family, and putting their own spin on the traditional holiday.

“There’s so much to be thankful for
Even with our differences
There is a place we’re all connected

So for tonight, we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day, we hope for
What we still can’t see
It’s up to us, to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more
There’s so much to be thankful for”

~Josh Groban “Thankful”

Until next time,

Bailey Sue