Tuesday, November 22, 2011

From Turkey Trots to Pie Parties

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I think it's interesting to see how different families observe the holidays. I know families who start Thanksgiving by running a 5K Turkey Trot. I have a friend who takes her family to the local bowling alley for their annual Turkey bowl. My husband's family hangs out in pajamas all day long watching the kiddies play on the floor and eating Oreos. (I'm telling you I was meant to be in this family...except for the Oreos part. I prefer the hard stuff, you know, like dark chocolate).

I love it, I love that people have these ideas and concepts of rest, entertainment, celebration and food that make the holidays feel familiar and comfortable. I think those two words are crucial: familiar and comfortable. There is nothing worse then spending holidays feeling far away from everything or everyone who makes you feel at home. But thankfully the droopy tailed, homesick holidays of my early marriage are long gone and over the years I've learned to create the feeling of comfort and familiarity no matter where I end up. For example, in my universe Thanksgiving means homemade cranberry sauce and hot-out-of-the-oven rolls. So no matter where I'm spending Turkey Day I always volunteer to do the cranberry sauce and the rolls.

Side note: Only when I'm not allowed to be in charge of these assignments I end up losing sleep over the issue, wondering what the person who was issued the rolls and cranberry sauce assignment will show up with. And worse case scenario, what if they don't even make homemade rolls and cranberry sauce? I can't, in good conscience, sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with gratitude in my heart if I'm looking down at a platter of chewy Costco rolls along side a bowl of that store bought congealed, sour cranberry muck. Really, if you're planning on having Thanksgiving with me it might be better for everyone if you just let me do the rolls and cranberry sauce. I promise you won't be disappointed.  

I feel like I need to interject that not every single one of my holiday traditions revolves around food. Only most of them. But a second runner up, a holiday tradition that is part of my DNA, is reading good books. Sometimes I become anxious if we're nearing the holidays and I don't have a substantial stack of Must Reads waiting on my nightstand because as you know, the holidays are not a good time of year to pick up just any old book. I want to be swept away. I want to spend the day in my pajamas turning pages as fast as I can read. I want to feel that sinking feeling, the blissful let down that comes at the conclusion of any good book. Here are a few recommendations that kept me glued to the couch recently:













































But the great thing about traditions is that there's always room for something new. For me the holidays are kind of like grocery shopping. Just when you think you know exactly what ingredients to put in your cart you'll hear about the latest and greatest ice cream/cheese/chocolate/or bread. And then your staple grocery list will change in order to accommodate this foray into the delicious unknown. This week I met a woman who shared the Thanksgiving tradition of having a pie party every year on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve. She explained that by the time her family finishes their turkey dinner each year they are so stuffed they can't enjoy their pie in the way one ought to enjoy pie. And so pie night was born. Of course they still manage to eat leftover pie after dinner on Thanksgiving too, but their Wednesday evening tradition allows them to savor dessert without the awkwardness of unbuttoning their jeans or changing into something with an elastic waist band.

Now the minute I heard about this tradition I felt the internal fluttering of true love and subsequently have spent the past few days lobbying for my family to concede the genius in starting the dessert course a day early. My step-mom told me she will be making cherry, apple, and pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving this year. I looked up at the ceiling as my mind skimmed over the arithmetic with impressive agility. So I'll do the chocolate mousse and lemon cream pies, I told her. She frowned and said, That sounds like a lot of pie which in translation means I don't think we need to eat that much dessert. I tried to think of a delicate way to respond. How do you tell someone who clearly isn't getting it that you can't just leave out chocolate and lemon cream. Why don't we just forget about the turkey while we're at it! In the end I concluded that five different types of pie is even more reason to begin eating pie on Wednesday night. You can't argue with that. Five pies is really too much dessert for one day, especially after eating a big dinner first.

Happy shopping, happy cooking, happy running, happy reading, happy bowling, happy eating, and happy Thanksgiving, whatever that means to your family!


2 comments:

  1. unbroken is one my most favorite books i read this year. happy thanksgiving lauren.

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  2. Lauren you are so funny! I love your hilarious, poingnant insights. And I love that you stress over other people's food assignments at Thanksgiving, b/c I do too!! I always secretly feel that the more I personally I am in charge of, the better the meal will be. Don't tell anyone. Miss you!

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