My family always hosts Thanksgiving at our house, which is good in that we do not need to travel anywhere, but it also means there is a lot of cooking to do. While it varies from year to year on how may relatives come, this year we totaled 14. For a while, Thanksgiving has not been a big holiday in my family. When my brother and I were younger we use to have family over to our house, as we do now. However, from the age of around ten until only a couple of years ago my immediate family was always away on Thanksgiving Day. My brother and I ski raced, and as is typical of many alpine race teams, there was always an early season training week in Colorado, which always fell over Thanksgiving break. Therefore most of the Thanksgivings that I can actually remember were not traditional at all. There were some years when my parents did not come to Colorado so my brother and I had Thanksgiving dinner with our entire team. This typically involved going out to dinner; sometimes for a traditional turkey dinner, but often it was to whatever restaurant would seat thirty kids and coaches on Thanksgiving Day.
A few years my parents came to Colorado and my brother and I spent Thanksgiving with them. With them we would forgo turkey all together. One year was bison burgers, another was sushi, and my all time favorite one was fondue at a mountain top restaurant. Even though we did not have the traditional dinner, (which is my favorite of holiday meals) these were still some of my favorite Thanksgivings. Spending it with my immediate family is what was really important to me, and these types of meals meant that there was no stress over cooking and preparation or any frustration, which inevitably comes when my extended family is over. This year though we were not skiing and it was back to tradition.
After not being home last year for Thanksgiving I was actually excited for a turkey dinner. Hosting usually meant that we ended up cooking the whole meal. My mom does not cook often and I rarely do, so Thanksgiving dinner is a true test of our abilities. All in all, I would say that this year was a success. Disaster almost struck Thursday morning, which derailed our plans for a few hours, but it was nothing that could not be fixed. My mom put the turkey in the oven before we all left to go run a 5k. We took our time at the race, catching up with friends after, then grabbing coffee and breakfast. When we got back three hours later we realized that my mom put the turkey in the oven that was off, not the one that had been preheating. With a still completely raw turkey, and guests arriving in a couple of hours, we panicked. We had no choice but to postpone dinner for a few hours. We set out more appetizers, opened a few more bottles of wine and in the end no one seemed to mind much.
The dinner itself was excellent. I have never really enjoyed the actual turkey on Thanksgiving but I love the side dishes; Brussels sprouts being my all time favorite. And no Thanksgiving is complete, in my opinion, without pumpkin pie, which I ended up having for lunch for the next two days. Even with the hours spent in the kitchen cooking and the endless questions about “what are you doing after graduation?” from my family, it was an enjoyable Thanksgiving and I had a great time with family, eating delicious food.
This is what our Thanksgiving dinner menu looked like this year:
Turkey, gravy, butternut squash roasted with spinach and cranberries, mashed sweet potato and mashed potato, Brussels sprouts roasted with pancetta, cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, and for dessert, pumpkin and apple pie. (It was way more food than any person would be able finish, but it was too hard to decide what to exclude so we cooked it all)