Menu? Check. Grocery list? Check. Guest list? Check. Stretchy pants? Done.
Pie? Of course.
So a few weeks ago, I asked the Moda fabric designers about their Thanksgiving traditions. I tried to keep it simple – did they have any traditions, family rituals or silly stunts that were part of their annual family celebration. It could be a family recipe, special blessing or even something like crank-calling friends and family to say “Gobble Gobble”. Football? Pie? Special sides? And for those that didn’t celebrate the holiday as we do in the US, what did they think of the seasonal obsession with all things “pumpkin spice”?
Deb wrote: We are having a small Thanksgiving this year…and yes, I will be cooking the turkeys. Probably not the turkeys most of you think of – half of our guests are vegetarian so there will be turkey breasts for some of us and veggie-turkey breast for others. (Yes, there is such a thing!) Eggnog, using my Grandmother’s famous recipe, will also be served along with more traditional sweet potatoes, cranberry jello and pumpkin pie. I hope everyone has a wonderful day! Gobble till you wobble!!
Stacy doesn’t have any Thanksgiving traditions yet as they spend the holiday with other members of her extended family every year. But she shared a wonderful Fall tradition: Every year my dad grows pumpkins for the fall season on some land that he sets aside. My kids will either help plant them or water them in the summer or pick them in the fall but we always know that we are going to get lots of pumpkins to decorate our front the front steps of our house. The kids are allowed to carve one each for Halloween and then we save the rest as decorations for Thanksgiving.
We always look forward to Papa visiting around the fall to see how many pumpkins he has for us. The attached photos are at my mom and dads farm and the kids are picking pumpkins and cleaning them. It really is fun to watch them grow in the summer and harvest them in the fall. The photos are a little old and kids look a little messy but it is my favorite picture of them.
Images from Stacy Iest Hsu.
Janet Clare wrote: Thanksgiving seems like a lovely holiday – stopping to be grateful, enjoying time with friends and family. I don’t get the obsession with pumpkin spice though… is it genetic? I also don’t miss the Black Friday craziness. However, we here in England have just celebrated Guy Fawkes and his failed attempt to blow up parliament and James 1st – 400(?) years ago – by having firework parties and bonfires, so who am I to talk?
Jen Kingwell also doesn’t quite understand the “pumpkin spice” thing… I think Thanksgiving is a lovely tradition! I love the thought of families all celebrating and being thankful for everything and everyone in our lives. We really don’t have a day in Australia that is celebrated in a similar manner. I’m sorry but I don’t get the pumpkin-ish flavour in everything… what is that all about? Are they left over from Halloween?
Given that a certain “coffee company” rolls out their Pumpkin Spice beverage the first week of September… uh, no.
Brigitte Heitland wrote: As many of you know, I am born in Germany and live in the northwest part of the country. Here in Germany Thanksgiving is not as an important holiday as it is in US. We do have a special day called Erntedank the end of October but it’s quite in a different way from yours. In Germany we celebrate this day mostly by a church service. During this service the songs and prayers are all about thanking God for the goods and the harvest he gave.
Image from Brigitte Heitland.
The church is decorated with all kind of harvest food that is sometimes given away to homeless people at the end of the worship. And this it is. Oh my, holidays are always sparkling and bear excitement and it is a wonderful opportunity to have your loved ones around! I hope for everyone to have this blessing and a good time during Thanksgiving!
Wenche Wolf Hatling wrote: We in Scandinavia don´t have Thanksgiving as a tradition, so no turkeys here. Turkeys are more often served as a New Year’s Eve dinner. It sounds like a lovely tradition though, especially celebrating with family and friends! As for Pumpkin Spice… let’s just say that it’s not my favorite, but then, my experience is limited to one Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks.
Sandy Klop – aka American Jane – spent many years celebrating Thanksgiving in a foreign land: When we lived in Saudi Arabia, we always joined a large group of friends for Thanksgiving. After the big meal, there was a Tom Turkey table tennis tournament! There were many tiers, many cheers and a whole lot of great fun!
Kristyne Czepuryk wasn’t sure she admit this but… I’ve never cooked a turkey. Ever. As in never ever. For any holiday ever. And I turned 50 this year. Here’s the thing, before I was married, my mom always took care of holiday meals. Considering my aversion to cooking, I never argued with her on this matter. Then after I was married, my mother-in-law hosts all family gatherings. If you’re wondering what I’m going to do when my MIL no longer offers this loving and generous service, I admit I don’t have an answer. I have my fingers crossed one of my daughters will take over. But in the unfortunate event that they take after me and develop the same dislike for cooking, we may end up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Or chili. I make a terrific chili. And that will be perfectly fine with me.
I don’t know about you but chili sounds really good! It’s why we love Canadians… they have the best ideas.
Barbara Groves of Me & My Sister Designs also had a confession to make… I don’t have the best skills when it comes to roasting a turkey. Several years in a row, it took twice – or three times as long – as I planned to make dinner. It was a disorganized mess so now I just order a turkey from the local specialty store and make the fixings. With a “no onion” family so the stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans and corn are all made without them. I also have a relish tray with pickles, olives and such to snack on before the big meal. Pie? Yes. Store-bought, more than one, Pumpkin and Chocolate Cream.
Annie Brady shared this beautiful painting of her Thanksgiving “prep” and this: Having spent most of my life living in Ireland where we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, this holiday still sneaks up and surprises me – like an unexpected snow day but with copious amounts of food. It’s fantastic! This will be my third Thanksgiving since moving to the US. The first year my husband and I cooked a chicken and all the traditional sides. It was nice but it was a little lonely with just the two of us. Last year we were invited to a friends’ family celebration and that was much better! So this year we have gathered up enough of our own family-less friends to join us for a ‘friends-giving’. I’m excited to host! Since this is a new holiday for us, we basically just cook the same as we would for Christmas – turkey, ham and all the trimmings. I do love Pumpkin Pie and my American-born mother and grandmother always made their own so now I do too. I’m a last-minute kind of person so I haven’t got any decorations up yet… I tend to focus first on the things I really love to do; like these illustrations for my invites. Dinner might be 5 hours late but remember those pretty invites, dear guests!
Corey Yoder wrote: As far as Thanksgiving traditions, we usually have a couple different Thanksgiving parties with family – anywhere from 1 to 3. This year is a 3 event year so lots of yummy food. But the thing we most look forward to is that Thanksgiving weekend is the weekend we go get our Christmas tree. We always go and cut our own – except for that one year that I thought Christmas trees are a ridiculous expense and I bought an $8 thrift store tree… that crazy thing shed more pine needles than our live trees ever have and my family told me that we can never have a fake tree again. We have so much fun picking out the “perfect” tree – though we all have very different ideas about which tree that is!
Jo Morton gathers with her husband’s side of the family – Russ. She wrote: This year, it’s a family gathering and she’s bringing roasted vegetables, a lot of them. She volunteers to bring whatever is missing or required. Dinner is always the traditional turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes with a sweet glaze (not my favorite), home-canned pickled beets from my sister-in-law and a variety of pies and/or cakes for dessert. There isn’t any football here, we love the time visiting with family and watching the little ones grow up – or seeing how much they’ve grown since we last saw them!
Kathy Schmitz has a busy day – two Thanksgiving dinners in one day! She wrote: My sister and my nieces cook the birds – yes, plural. Stuffing is a MUST – I could eat just that and be happy. But it must be stuffing cooked inside of the turkey. Pies! With my Mom being the BEST pie maker around, we will always have a variety – Pumpkin, Apple and probably a Chocolate Cream Pie because she has a sweet-tooth. Football? Growing up, I barely knew what football was. But when I married into a big sports family, I’m now nominally versed in the sport.
Image from Kathy Schmitz.
With two turkeys, there’s plenty of turkey for everyone – Steve – Kathy’s football-loving husband on the left, his brother and his sister.
For Kathy and for Betsy – Betty Crocker’s Creamy Dark Chocolate Pie. (I’m sure they have their own recipes but this sure looked good.)
Betsy Chutchian sometimes has an extra-special Thanksgiving – every few years, the holiday falls on her birthday. She wrote: Our Thanksgiving celebrations have changed a lot over the years. This year I am hosting an extra-small gathering. The one constant, the have-to-have side, is actually a pie – Chocolate Pie. It started when I was in middle school – known as junior high in those days – when my birthday fell on Thanksgiving. I asked for pie instead of cake, my birthday pie, which otherwise was only made my birthday. Years later, mom stopped having Thanksgiving and her chocolate pie was my contribution to the family gathering. We will have the usual – turkey, dressing and lots of sides, but we have to finish eating before the Dallas Cowboys’ football game starts. Pie is served at halftime. Always.
The first time Betsy’s birthday was the same day as Thanksgiving. It was also one of the last times Betsy had a birthday cake – this one was pink. Betsy was two. (She’s still a cutie!)
Pat Sloan has a sometimes-on-Thanksgiving birthday too – November 26th.
I knew I was going to forget someone in that collage!
Miss Figgy wrote: Since I was raised in Poland, this particular holiday has always been a tiny bit foreign to me. Growing up as a little girl in California, we didn’t really celebrate it at home. But the longer we lived here, the more and more we came to appreciate it and, in time, celebrating it more each year. By the time I moved away to college, we knew how to do Thanksgiving even if it still felt a little bit like we were celebrating somebody else’s holiday!
Once I married my husband Eric, Thanksgiving became the holiday that we did with the Figueroa side of the family each and every year. And my mother-in-law was ALL about the Thanksgiving meal. Each year she would plan an extensive menu with all kinds of new dishes and sides and a new way of doing turkey… each and every year. We have had turkey in a bag, with cheesecloth, covered in bacon, herbs and butter under the skin, encrusted in an herb rub, stuffed inside, not stuffed inside, with fruits and a whole variety of different glazes and basting liquids. I seriously don’t think that in twenty some years of marriage, she ever repeated the same turkey, stuffing or cranberry sauce recipe. Not once. This was her opportunity to have fun and be creative. Her tradition was trying out new recipes every single year. She was the chef and I was her sous chef each and every year. And while everyone else floated in and out, we were masters of her kitchen. Even though I knew very little about all of these Thanksgiving recipes and had none of our own to bring to the table, she had plenty for all of us.
Seriously… how could I not use this picture when I found it in the files?
Now that she has just recently passed away, it feels very very odd to be doing Thanksgiving without her but I definitely feel like I have a huge repertoire to work from when Thanksgiving planning comes around. After all, I had the best teacher!
Joanna finished by writing – Happy Thanksgiving from our table to yours!
From everyone at Moda – Happy Thanksgiving to you! May your day be happy, safe and exactly what you want it to be.
Thank you to Deb Strain for sharing this wonderful Thanksgiving Turkey painting.