Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Different Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approaches, I keep thinking about how different it will be this year. Usually, we are invited to Kevin's family's house and we enjoy the spread of food, mostly prepared by other people, though we always bring our favorite dishes to share. We relax with people we have known for years. It is comfortable, fun, and a known-quantity.

This year, the only family member we will celebrate with on Thanksgiving Day is Kevin's 93-year-old grandmother. We are hosting and I am making the entire meal. I have resisted the temptation to scour Food Network and Martha Stewart's website. I'm going to stick with simple, tried and true recipes. I'm very traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner and all the traditional dishes need to be present. We are inviting a Chinese family who lives in our neighborhood. They have lived in the states for more than 10 years and have never had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. (She responded to my invitation by saying, "We are so happy to come!!  We will bring roast duck!!") We are also inviting several foreign students at a local university. The university has a program that connects students with families so the students do not have to be alone on such a meaningful American holiday. Many of these students have been here for years but have never been in an American home and have never had a traditional Thanksgviging dinner.

So, basically, I can totally bomb the stuffing, and no one will ever know (except Kevin and granny) because they don't know what stuffing is supposed to taste like. Nice!

Here is my main objective--other than offering warm hospitatlity, of course: I want to be operating on such little stress, that I have time to watch the Macy's Thanskgiving Parade with my kids. We love it. I enjoy snuggling with them on the couch and participating in this annual tradition. It is important to me. So, I want to make the whole meal, and still watch the parade. I want it all! Is that too much to ask? Well, I guess I love a good challenge. So, I have been Googling lots of "make ahead" recipes for Thanksgiving and putting things in the freezer. In the picture above, Sophia is helping me roll out pie dough. I don't normally like to make pies ahead and freeze them. But this year, there are more important things going on than fresh pie.

The make ahead recipes I have found online all have really good reviews. So, I'm crossing my fingers, and looking forward to a feast with new friends, a memorable day, and watching the parade with my kids.

And you should seriously read the emails I have received from the two students we have invited. They are so excited and grateful to have somewhere to go. Their emails are filled with superlatives. The young man from China rushed out to buy a bottle of wine, after one of his exams, and told me, "I hope you will like it." The young woman, who says she is from both Brazil and Japan, has expressed sweet gratitutde and says it will be her first Thanksgiving meal. I'm as excited as they are.


Heather L. said...

I can't wait to compare notes because ours is going to be so similar this year with neighbors from foreign lands and I even invited a complete stranger today! Not sure if she will actually turn up!!! But, she has the chance! :) You are far ahead of me on prep though! At least I remembered to buy a turkey and I hope I remember to pull it out to thaw!!!

dozenhalls said...

My Friend! We normally have tons here and I ALWAYS watch Macy's with a cup of coffee :) EVERYTHING can be done ahead with very little freezing. You can even do the bird ahead but I do like the smell of a fresh cooked turkey on Thanksgiving! That is the only thing in the oven on that day. This weekend is the start of our cooking with all homemade breads done. I do double batches so I am ready for Christmas too -- bonus! Then on Monday, we do a final shopping trip and begin our dozen pies. We have our ever famous pie night on Friday! Lots of little ones can help you with the chopping and prepping. Truth be told, our Thanksgiving is very basic but I find everyone loves the comfort foods and enjoys time together most of all. Have a blast! What a blessing you will be to those around you! 30 will be here but only 2 are non-family :) Happy Thanksgiving!