Undoubtedly Christmas is my favorite holiday, but truthfully I think I may like Thanksgiving Day better than Christmas Day. Christmas Day has so much build up and then wham, my favorite season is over. Thanksgiving Day comes with less stress, less emphasis on presents and seeing every member of the family. This holiday is more simple, and in my hurried life simple is what I crave. Other than a great meal it's a time to sit back and visit with family, watch the Macy's Parade, catch a game of football, go for a stroll or maybe even take a nap. Wow, can Christmas be that open to let the magic of the day unfold with those we love?
Thanksgiving at My Great Aunt's
When I look back on my great influences I have to say my Great-Aunt, Fran Ellenburg, a Southern Baptist Pastor's wife, consummate cook, gardener, entertainer and home keeper looms large! The myriad of different foods she prepares for Thanksgiving is truly amazing: turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, frozen salad, green beans, corn, homemade yeast rolls and three desserts at least. The sweets seem to always include her Italian Cream Cake and pecan pie. Whoo, I learned to love food in my family at a young age. She is in her 80's and still cooking strong. How we love to chat about techniques and recipes! We always seem to eat at lunch and then come back for a leftover supper. Such sweet memories.
My First Thanksgiving as Chef
The first Thanksgiving I served as chef was in the ninth grade. Yep! I've loved to cook and entertain for a while now. My aunt was out of town and so Thanksgiving fell to me. At the time I'd never cooked for 11 people, a small group by my standards today but a huge undertaking for a 14 year old boy. I can remember cooking white wine poached pears with homemade cranberry sauce placed in the halved fruit with melon balled centers to Martha Stewart's specifications. That was a lot back then! I remember my mother had to buy peppercorns and finding them in Upstate South Carolina in 1994 was a bit hard. I remember pies and my first turkey and I shudder now, canned green beans. Forgive me Lord, I repent of my wicked ways!
New Traditions, Friendsgiving
Since then, I've hosted my family several times over the years and started a new tradition of Friendsgiving with my dear friend Patsy. Together we invite our families and a few friends because she and I love the Thanksgiving cooking but are not the primary hosts for the holiday in our family in this season of life. It also gives us time to spend with friends that have become extended family who have their own obligations on Thanksgiving Day.
Pat and I split the work in half and have a ball for Friendsgiving! She does the turkey. I save the fun sides and dessert for myself, hee hee. She loves me anyway!