After many years no cooking Thanksgiving dinner, this year I decided to make my feast. These are some of the things I have learned, gathered, and accepted for Thanksgiving and the 5 pitfalls to avoid on Thanksgiving Day.
I am certainly guilt of a few of these, but number 1 is what I do year after year even though I try to avoid it.
5. Inviting people you don’t look forward to spending time with.
A former classmate of mine posted something like this this morning. She posted the question of “who are you most not looking forward to see on Thanksgiving?” This one might be too late on Thanksgiving eve, but it is a good one to remember for next year. You know that person, who no matter what is always stirring the pot? Well, that’s one person to avoid inviting to the feast. No matter what the conversation is like, this person always finds a way to contradict others and start something. Thanksgiving is about being thankful for everything. For being alive for another year. For family that we haven’t seen all year long. For the food we are blessed to have. For the joy in our lives. Don’t let one person be the negativity that sucks all the happiness from Thanksgiving.
4. Containers. Containers. Containers.
Let’s be real. We all overcook on Thanksgiving. And storage is a problem sometimes. The best way to avoid storage problems is to send guests home with a to-go container. Be prepared. You definitely don’t want to send your nice vintage Pyrex or nice Corelle dishes home with your guests to never see it again. Have some single-use containers to pack food in.
Furthermore, single-use containers are great to store your leftovers, too. If you are like me, you probably forget to eat all your leftovers. Single-use containers make the clean-up and throwing things away a lot easier. I am not encouraging people to waste food. However, life happens and all good intentions to finish that cranberry sauce can be deviated…directly into the trash can.
3. Eat Before You Go!
We are led to believe that Thanksgiving meal is going to be moist turkey with gravy, fluffy mashed potatoes, sweet yams, green bean casserole, etc.
But seriously, how often do you get to the table and the turkey is either dry or still undercooked? How about those flavorless lumpy mashed potatoes? Soupy yams? Soggy green beans with not-crispy fried onions?
If you know you are going to someone’s house for Thanksgiving, and this person is not known for being a great cook, simply eat something before you go.
This is also true if you have dietary restrictions and picky kids who don’t like the traditional meal. Feed the kids and those who have allergies and/or intolerance to food something before you go. Have a little snack in your car or purse. Don’t want to do that? Bring a dish that your family will eat. Don’t forget those with allergies and intolerance to food.
2. Avoid a traditional Thanksgiving.
For many years, I felt the pressure of hosting or going to some people’s Thanksgiving gatherings. Anxiety overwhelmed me so much that I couldn’t sleep for a week before the 4th Thursday in November. Nine years ago, husbankid and I decided that we wouldn’t go to any Thanksgiving dinner held at anyone’s house for my mental health, for his mental health, and for our own happiness.
For the last eight years (sans 2020), we have opted for a restaurant meal on Thanksgiving day. We found this to be peaceful, delicious, and drama-free. I understand that big gatherings with family and friends are traditional. In many cases, family is far away, time-off is not available, and a traditional meal is not in the budget. Do what’s best for your immediate family. And, just leave traditional to the movies. Be thankful and make your own traditions.
1. Not feeding your family until Thanksgiving dinner.
“Don’t come in the kitchen!” “You’ll have plenty of food later.” “You’re starving? Good! You are making room for all the food I am making.”
Those who cook Thanksgiving dinners have said these things to their own kids, husband, or wife at least once during the cooking process. I remember one year, husbankid was so hungry he ended up at McDonald’s for lunch before Thanksgiving dinner was ready.
Be prepared. Have some leftovers or meals that are easy to heat up for Thanksgiving morning so your family is not starving all day waiting for Thanksgiving Feast.