Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Radical Thanksgiving (Oh, Yeah!)

Our Thanksgiving this year is going to be structured differently than all others we've had. This change from the usual was probably easier to implement because there are just the three of us celebrating the day this year.

In late October, I got up enough personal gumption to present my plan to my husband and daughter explaining that the last several years I've come to dread Thanksgiving. (Seriously, I really have.) Simply put, it's all the work involved. Usually the first of Thanksgiving week I spend buying/gathering together food and drinks for the day. Then on Wednesday I do as much advance prep work as I can, and the day of Thanksgiving I spend the whole day making the meal, going through the (admittedly) stressful coordination that is required for all parts of the meal to be ready at once (hot dishes hot, cold dishes cold) as it hits the table. Then there's the clean-up afterwards. Unbelievably, it takes me very close to one whole hour to get everything cleaned up and in storage containers and stashed away in the refrigerator. The last few years, my dear hubby (bless his heart) has been doing all the dishes (we have no automatic dishwasher) which has been, needless to say, much appreciated by me.

I've been finding that I don't even enjoy eating the meal after all the work put into it and the days spent handling it. I've gotten grumpier and grumpier the last couple of years and have decided that the situation is not working for me, and it's stupid not to try something else that feels better.

So I presented a plan for a different Thanksgiving to my two favorite people.

What I'm going to do this year is to still have it be a "holiday" day, we won't forget about Thanksgiving and treat it as just another day of the year. I've even gotten my husband to agree to take the WHOLE day off, no desk work or any other type of "work" he would normally do.

I'm taking the time and effort to make the house all spiffy and holiday festive.

We won't starve because of lack of food. I'll have a cheese plate with crackers, Dill Pickle Roll Ups, Smoked Turkey Canapes, smoked fish, a veggie plate with dip, pickled herring, egg nog, wine, beer, tea, coffee, plenty of yummy stuff. I'll probably even bake a pumpkin pie because that sounds good to me. But no set dinner time or sit down at the table. Just munching as one feels like it.

I'm planning on spending the day lounging, sitting in front of the fire, reading, doing handwork, visiting, going for a leisurely hike . . . whatever feels good to me.

It might not be anybody else's idea of how Thanksgiving should be, but lately Thanksgiving hasn't been for me how I think it should be either. Happily, hubby and daughter have both agreed (willingly, too, I might say) to go along with my plan. I'm not saying this arrangement will be forever or even for more than this one year. But for the first time in YEARS, since I made this decision in late October, I have been looking forward to the day more than I can explain. Best of all, I can't help but congratulate myself for being brave enough to break tradition, step out from under a huge load that didn't feel good and implement something that feels better (oh, so MUCH better) to me.


Judy D in WA said...

I think your plan isn't radical at all, it sounds like perfection. This year I am not cooking, DD2 is and I couldn't be happier. She's excited to do it and I will be more than happy to do the dishes. :) And it will be at her house. Can't get better than that. Enjoy your day.

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

I just read an article that said we have become overly ridged with Thanksgiving. We prepare the same things over and over. None of which are usually locally sourced, which is what the meal itself is all about. It should be the end of the harvest foods. Not fresh corn, green beans, and stuffing with exotic ingredients which would be just a memory for most. Or trucked in turkeys or fixings from 100's or 1000's of miles away. So don't feel bad about breaking "tradition". By having a feast of what is available to you, your having an original Thanksgiving. That's what the meal should be.

Jennifer Jo said...

I'd take it.

We're having pulled pork at Mom's. Apparently, she has already Stepped Out.

Faye said...

Not radical. You're simply acknowledging the truth that life (and its traditions) are an evolution - a journey. Sometimes directions alter a bit for better (more enjoyable) travel and/or destinations - yay!

One thing for certain mama pea is that when your heart feels heavy it's time for any change that can be made - and when you look forward to something you've dreaded then you KNOW you're on the correct path for the time being.

Kudos to you, not being mired in tradition for the sake of tradition alone.

How much happier life is when we listen to ourselves :-) (which is different that talking to ourselves, roflmao)

Happy 'new tradition thanksgiving' to all three of you....


Susan said...

I think we have the wrong idea about traditions. The tradition should be the "thought" not the accoutrements. I am with you on dreading the day. My life is so harried anyway that I find myself resenting having to put myself through the fire drill on what should be a day off. I am working on being brave enough to present a different Christmas to my family. That's my second least favorite holiday. You've given me strength!

The Apple Pie Gal said...

Holiday's shouldn't mean stress! It takes the joy out and brings dread! No one likes "Mandatory Formations". So do what pleases you and enjoy your two favorite people!

Sparkless said...

That sounds like a wonderful Thanksgiving! If it's not working change it and I'm sure it will be just as good and more relaxing for you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Erin said...

That is a fantastic idea! Last year at Christmas, I did the same thing - I had over about 12-14 people and kids, basically all the military friends that were stuck here over the holidays, and I made 2 big crockpots of Elk Chili, everyone brought some type of appetizer tray and drinks and we just grazed all afternoon and evening! My BFF a couple of years ago did a big taco bar with the meat, cheese, etc all in crock pots and serve yourself dishes, it wasn't traditional, but we all felt right at home and relaxed.

I am very lucky this year, BFF is having Thanksgiving at her house since her parents are here, so little prep and no clean up for me, downside is that there are no leftovers!

Mama Pea said...

Judy D - Doesn't it seem more like a real holiday when you go to someone else's home for the celebration?

Jane - I've always admired Helen and Scott Nearing for rebelling against modern day Thanksgiving gluttony by eating nothing but apples all day.

JJ - Yay for your mom!!

Faye - "How much happier life is when we listen to ourselves." My problem with doing that is feeling like I'm being selfish; that I'm doing it for myself with no regard for others. Do I have "issues?"

Mama Pea said...

Susan - If I've given you strength, I'm very glad. 'Cause it's a real struggle for me not to put everyone else's feelings ahead of my own. Could ya bounce some of that "strength" back at me, please?

APG - I certainly plan on enjoying hubby and daughter (and me) being together this Thanksgiving Day.

Sparkless - I K-N-O-W it will be more enjoyable and relaxing for me!

Erin - We all really do need to learn to step outside the box more, don't we??


Patty said...

Mama Pea-
I think that's just awesome, and I hope you truly enjoy your special day.
I actually am making the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, with a happy chicken instead of the turkey, but about half the time I don't do anything "traditional". After all, if my man's actually going to be NOT working for a whole day, why would I want to spend all of it in the kitchen while the family waits for the dinner that took HOURS (ok, DAYS) to prepare just so they can eat it in 20 minutes?
This year it seemed fun, so I'm going to do it. Be FREE, I say!

Mama Pea said...

Patty - Hope you and your beautiful family have a wonderful, relaxing, non-working Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy that happy chicken! (M-m-m-m, sounds good!)

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I have a fairly "set" vegetarian menu that we have made for many years on the holidays. First, I started to scale it back. Then I got bored making that same meal so close together (2x in a month, Christmas too) Then of course I got bored with all the dishes.

When it became very clear to me that my kids most enjoyed the cranberry sauce and the pumpkin pie, I scaled back!

You know what I did for Christmas dinner last year? Ordered Chinese takeout! It was one of the most enjoyable holiday meals I've had in a long time.

That is the key to it I think: Enjoying yourself with your family. Forget the fancy food if that isn't what floats your boat. Turkey is overrated. Given your lifestyle, it would make much more sense to eat one of your homegrown chickens or geese. From your blog, I think you guys eat pretty good stuff all the time anyway. I wouldn't turn down a dinner invitation to your house any day of the year.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Just saw this article and thought you might appreciate its message:



See? You are actually saving your family's lives! LOL

Sue said...

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one. That's what's so great about blogging......it's fun to see what others are doing. Hubby and I turned down several invites to various neighbors. They feel so sorry for us--we're alone at the holidays. Ha! We're having a fine roast chicken, then icing up some beers and decorating the house for Christmas. I'm so glad you decided to "buck the trend" too! I'll be raising a glass to you guys!!
Have a fun and RELAXING holiday!

Lorie said...

Sounds like a lovely day for you all. Happy Thanksgiving.

thimblevee said...

I love your plan, Mama Pea! and I'm so happy that Chicken Mama and hubby were in sync with you on this. I wish you all a wonderful leisurely day together and lots of munching and lounging. It sounds like a perfect day for "thanks"-giving to me!

You Can Call Me Jane said...

Good for you.

We used to have Christmas Eve dinner at my dad's parents every year before the Christmas Eve service at church. After a few "traditional" years, my grandmother started serving take-out pizza or shrimp cocktail and other finger foods. As kids, we thought she was so cool.

As are you. Happy Thanksgiving!

mtnchild said...

I think you're on to something! I'm with you, why does one person, or family, have to work like the dickens to put a meal on the table that takes 20-30 minutes to eat? It is the spirit of the day, not the food.

I red the article that Jenyfer linked to, what an eye opener.

I love the smell while the turkey is roasting and I love having leftovers. I'll do the turkey and gravy, everyone else brings the rest. A few days later, I can make fresh potatoes and salad and really enjoy the meal.
The fewer people the smaller the turkey! I save the carcass for making turkey soup for New Years Eve dinner.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!!

Kelly said...

We go to a friend's house for Thanksgiving, and I know she is feeling like you are. I am thinking this will be her last year hosting for all which I understand, but I will miss it just the same.

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Mama Pea said...

Jen - If I had chosen to go with the "traditional" Thanksgiving meal this year, we would have roasted one of our geese we have in the freezer. Wonder if I'll do a Christmas Goose? Or order Chinese take-out? ;o)

Thanks for all your support.

Sue - You and hubby alone (but not lonely!) will have a fine day. We should all do what feels best for us. Here's to you, m'dear! I'm raising my glass of white wine right now.

Lorie - Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, too!

Thimblevee - They both readily agreed to my proposal . . . for which I'm thankful!

ThyHand - I think you're pretty cool, too! Happy Thanksgiving!

Yvette - Unfortunately, food is so much a part of our traditions. It's hard to even think of Thanksgiving, for instance, without the food that is expected to go with it.

Leftovers are a wonderful part of the meal though. Turkey soup? Mmmm,mmm!

Kelly - Enjoy this year at your friend's house. Maybe next year will be the start of another great tradition!

Melissa said...

It sounds like a great little buffet you'll have going today! Mmmmm-smoked fish and dill pickle roll ups!!! Enjoy and you 3 have a wonderful day.

Mama Pea said...

Melissa - Thank you for your well wishes. We did have a nice low key day. Hope yours was all you wanted.

Karen L. said...

Although I am reading this the "day after", I was thrilled to see that someone like you, whom I happened to admire for all you do, would buck the system so that the day would actually be enjoyable for you. This year I decided not to do the big dinner as I have been doing it for years and, like you, was starting to dread it and become grumpy. So, it was just hubby and me! Wasn't it hard to get your mind and soul to go along with this? We did do a turkey breast and I made a pumpkin pie (I need to have turkey sandwiches and soup a day or two later!!!) but no stuffing and the rest was quick and simple stuff. I felt both wonderful and guilty about the whole thing. Oh well, guess that is the price to pay for being a woman, huh? I am envious of those people who seem to enjoy the whole cooking/baking/ thing for several days then cleaning up afterward. I too lose my appetite when I have to do it all but some thrive on this. When families used to live near each other, I think it was both easier and perhaps fun working together on the dinner. Now, well, not so much. At least I did not have to drive/fly to some distance place to eat!!! Yes, I am thankful for that! And thankful that I read this post!

Mama Pea said...

Karen - Thank you for what you wrote. So much of what you expressed is exactly what I've been feeling. Your sentences could have been written by me in the same words. The change I made was really hard for me. But I did it. And, funny thing, I found myself saying "no" yesterday to something else I would normally have said "sure" to even though I knew I wouldn't enjoy doing it and it wouldn't have been good for me. Maybe we can make this doing things for ourselves a regular thing? (I'll keep supporting you if you'll keep supporting me! ;o])

Thanks again for your supportive comment.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Another interesting article


Seems your smoked fish was along the right lines for a traditional meal!

Mama Pea said...

Jen - I know I should think of eel the same as fish, but I just CAN'T! Ish! I think they look too much like snakes/worms and I cannot tolerate those things. (I hear you saying, "Wimp, wimp, wimp!")