Thursday, November 19, 2009

One Week Countdown...

Have you made your Thanksgiving plans yet? It's just a week away!

At our event on Tuesday night, a woman asked me if I was going to be able to go somewhere and relax for Thanksgiving. With a big smile I told her, "Oh no, I am having Thanksgiving lunch at my house and then we are hosting a dessert open house that night. It will be a busy day!"

She shook her head. "Just what you need! More stress!"

The truth is, I am looking forward to this Thanksgiving more than ever. It will be a day to just focus on my family and not on my to-do list.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the foods, the attitude of only focusing on what we are thankful for and not on the gifts like we will be doing in a month. There is a sense of anticipation in the air of Christmas coming... but the stress hasn't hit yet and there is just pure excitement. We eat pumpkin spice donuts from Krispy Kreme for breakfast. We watch the Macy's parade. Then it's time for football and feasting. When the meal is over and the kitchen swept clean, I put my feet up for a couple of hours and savor the sale ads, deciding if there's anything worth getting up at 4 or 5 am for. (Usually I decide no!) Then I put pies in the oven, light some candles, and we open our doors for guests. For the next several hours people come and go, eating and talking. The noise is deafening at times, the environment crazy and crowded. It's Thanksgiving at our house and I wouldn't change a thing.

The other day I saw a sale ad for a complete Thanksgiving feast from the grocery store and chuckled to myself. My husband still talks about the year his mom did that when he was a kid. In her defense she was a busy working mom and didn't have time to put on a big production. But Curt never forgot it. He practically wrote it into our vows: "To love, honor, and cook Thanksgiving dinner." It's a big deal to him so I have tackled the turkey and learned how to make a delicious sweet potato casserole and all the other stuff that goes with making a feast he looks forward to all year.

If cooking Thanksgiving intimidates you, I thought I would share some resources that I have found to help out. First, in my ebook A Recipe For Christmas Joy, I have a complete holiday meal with all the recipes I personally use. So you might want to check that out. I give several ways I have used to make a turkey... including how to cook a turkey breast that is frozen. So if you forget to thaw your turkey, you have a backup method! Voila! Crisis avoided!

Just fyi-- I most always cook a turkey breast. If we are having a big crowd (like this year) I cook two. We prefer white meat so the other parts are just wasted anyway. And cooking a turkey breast is much simpler. My advice: look for ways like this to diminish the stress of the meal and focus on the fun. I even have a recipe that is so simple and yummy that I will share. Put a (thawed) turkey breast in your crockpot. Mix a can of cranberry sauce, a packet of onion soup mix, and a can of water in a bowl with a whisk. Pour it over the turkey breast and cook it all day. This is falling-off-the-bone good. Add a few simple favorites-- some green beans, some corn, some sweet potato casserole and some Sister Schubert's Parker House Rolls and you got yourself a great meal! Ok, you can add some stuffing/dressing if you must. :) The main thing is, don't stress yourself out. Here's another great option for cooking your turkey in the crockpot.

If you are planning to cook the whole bird, my friend Charlie has created a very funny and informative turkey tutorial video on her blog. Charlie has a wonderful sense of humor and that comes through in this video. Just the name of her blog makes me laugh! If you are someone who wants to watch something before you do it, check out this video.

And if you want something to keep the kids busy on Wednesday while you are prepping your meal, let them make these cute Turkey centerpieces. These look like something even this craft-challenged mom could do!

Whatever you are doing, spend some time today thinking through ways you can plan a great Thanksgiving. Maybe it's time to start a new tradition. Maybe you need to sit down and make out your grocery list and get your coupons and sale ads in order so you can get the best deals. Maybe you need to start now, a week ahead of time, focusing on all you have to be thankful for-- instead of saving it just for the one day. Maybe there's someone on your heart that God is nudging you to invite over for Thanksgiving. Our family is hosting two girls who are far from their families this Thanksgiving and can't get home. So we are serving as a substitute family for them and are so excited about it! Listen to those nudgings in the days to come.

I would love to hear what your favorite traditions are or if you are trying something new this year. Maybe you'll help our family discover something new to incorporate into our thanksgiving!
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Karen Ehman said...

This Thanksgiving will be a first for us since everyone will not be home. In fact, our 18 year old "just-moved-out-to-go-to-school" daughter will be at Marybeth's house enjoying the fabulous food AND company (thanks MB)

Our tradition has been to have homemade turkey sausage patties for breakfast with pumpkin pancakes and pure maple syrup. The rest of the day varies from year to year; sometimes to extended family; sometimes to serve in a soup kitchen; other times at home--always with Indian corn pudding---yum!.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone and {{{(((hug)))}}} my girl for me Marybeth. Thanks for including her!!!!

Arlene Grimm said...

This will be a good Thanksgiving for us because our son who has been in China for the last four yrs will be home for Thanksgiving. He got married this summer and he and his wife are living nearby. So the WHOLE family will be here which is certainly a blessing. We just do Turkey Breasts as well. I went to a ladies evening at our church last night and saw several simple table decorations that use fresh cranberries in a pretty bowl, with a candle in the middle of the cranberries. Easy and you can make it as elegant as you wish. So that will be a new Thanksgiving decoration for me!

Marybeth said...

I love those centerpieces too! I have seen people layer rock salt and cranberries and it's very pretty.

I use a large candlestick with a fall wreath around it with pumpkins sitting on either side. It feels "harvesty."

My mom and I were just talking about how you can just do simple things-- single flowers in different size vases with some random votives scattered across the table is so elegant.

Thanks for sharing Arlene!

And Karen, you know we are gonna love having Kenz here! I will make her some corn pudding just for you!

dawn said...

we are looking forward to a new tradition this year, spending it with you all at your open house!!!

before we come we will have stuffed ourselves silly, watched the parade and some football. my family will be at our house, although i do not cook the entire dinner, my mom and grandmother do a large part of it! we will do some turkey crafts on wednesday!

don't worry we will have room for some yummy deserts at your house!! see you next week!!!

Anonymous said...

Glad to know others cook turkey breast in the crockpot. I don't like all the turkey bones!