Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories...

Lisa, Diana, Jennifer and Jill take time out from sharing recipes to share their thoughts on Thanksgiving and the holiday season. Cousins in the Kitchen wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving. Bon App├ętit!

Lisa: Hanging the decorations that looked like they were made of popcorn, my father securing the Santa sleigh with four reindeer onto the roof so it looked like they were flying, and adorning our silver Christmas tree with the red, blue and green rotating lights shining upon it—these are a few memories of my childhood holidays. All the decorations went up right after Thanksgiving. I always got this great feeling around the holidays. Almost like everything was just perfect. I think  Diana, Jimmy, and I may have even got through a dinner without throwing the peas at each other...or that may just be my imagination!

I still begin decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. I think it's because I want that feeling to last as long as possible. So the day after Thanksgiving my four kids, now grown, know to come to the house to help decorate the tree. They know it's tradition, even though they say that I re-arrange the ornaments every year. It must be habit since I did that when they were small because only the bottom half of the tree got adorned by their tiny hands.  

This year, however, will be a little different. We are going through an unplanned remodel due to Hurricane Irene. My house is a total mess with everything that was salvageable from downstairs, now upstairs. It doesn't look like I'll be decorating on Black Friday this year. My husband, knowing how badly I want to do that, is working frantically to get the house back in order, but I just have to face the fact that the tree may not go up, the lights may not go on, and the wreath may not get hung on November 25. I still, however, have that wonderful feeling about the holidays that I do every year. We have a new granddaughter who will celebrate her first Christmas and first birthday in December; we have two new babies from my cousins in Tennessee; my grandmother will turn 92 years young Nov. 27  and I will celebrate my 29th wedding anniversary with my husband Arnold a week before Christmas! 

The decorations will eventually go up but I realize I don't need them in order to have that wonderful holiday feeling. It's almost like a Charlie Brown Christmas moment! I have a lot to be thankful for and to celebrate. Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!       

(Pictured: Last year Lisa was so excited about the pre-lit tree she ordered that she didn't even wait until the day after Thanksgiving to begin decorating for Christmas. As soon as the Thanksgiving dishes were cleared, she and her son Arnold got to it. Sadly, the tree did not meet Lisa's expectations and was taken apart and shipped back the next day!)


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Jennifer: On the way home from school this week my daughter Eliza said, “Mommy, I’m thankful that you and daddy took us to see the Rockettes.” Abigail then chimed in and said, “I’m thankful that you are a good mommy.” Of course I cried. Yes, it’s that time of year when we hug our loved ones a little tighter, laugh a little harder as the wine flows, and smile through our tears as we think of all the things we are thankful for this holiday season.
 
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, not just because of the food, but also because it gently reminds us how blessed we truly are. Granted, the food is pretty spectacular, especially an Italian Thanksgiving, which uses the turkey more as a centerpiece than a main course. But it’s the people who make the memories, not the food. Whether it’s the funny family stories told at the table, or the children running around the house giggling with delight, Thanksgiving provides families with the future memories that they will cherish.My fondest memories of childhood come from Thanksgiving with my cousins Jill and Adam. We would prep all afternoon in the basement for our ‘show’ that we would put on after dinner. It was a win/win situation for everyone. Our parents got to hangout, share the ‘spirits’ (wine) without the children in their hair, and we got to play and fantasize about being famous. That memory seems like a lifetime ago and yesterday all at the same time.

Thanksgiving is the official start to the holiday season.  While many are making their shopping lists and complaining about all they have to do, Thanksgiving should remind us of all the wonderful memories we have and all that we have to look forward to.


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Jill: Ahhh...the week before Thanksgiving, probably the most under rated week of all holidays. I call it the prep week. The week where the grocery stores wish they hired more people. The week we rush around with our lists and our carts, up one aisle and down another as if there was a total food shortage. I've never seen so many frantic people rush around so fast.  


This is why I dislike shopping for Thanksgiving. The good news is that my job on the radio allows me to shop at odd hours. Since I wake up at 4 a.m. to do the morning show, I have the super power of not being tired at an early hour,  making me unstoppable at 5 a.m. on a Saturday. I know it's not easy to shop at that hour, but if you can do it on Black Friday then you can do it a week prior to ease your mind and shopping experience. 

Another way I get a jump on things (and some may not believe in this method) is my husband and I put up our Christmas decorations the weekend before Thanksgiving. I realize this is taboo, to which I reply, "I do not care." This tradition started last year when I was hella-pregnant and had a due date freakishly close to Christmas. My husband and I decided this would be easier so we could be totally focused on baby instead of decorations. We loved having that extra time with the decorations and let's face it, it doesn't make the Thanksgiving turkey taste any less delicious.  

Elliot and Autumn are new additions to the table this Thanksgiving.

The week is now upon us where the food is purchased, the wine is chilling, and the table is set. I have my list of things to pack for the family so we can spend the night at my parents' house and wake up to the smell of the turkey and sound of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. Only this year, I'm a mom! Not only will there be a new baby boy at the table this year, but also a baby girl—my niece Autumn. My dad will have a baby in a highchair to his left and to his right, which is all he's been talking about since last Thanksgiving. No matter where you sit or what you eat or how you decorate, I hope your holiday is filled with love, happiness and many traditions...new and old.

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Diana: I’m fessing up…mainly because I know somehow, someday word will eventually get out that the year I hosted my first Thanksgiving I forgot to remove the paper-wrapped giblets from inside the turkey before putting it in the oven. My bad. But at the first sign of smoke I quickly made the save and no one was the wiser. Of course, my husband couldn’t let this go without telling the entire family about my slight mishap. “Guess what Diana did?!” I recall was his greeting at the front door, and I spent the rest of the day being roasted more than Tom the Turkey. 

But there was something so exciting about hosting that first Thanksgiving. We had just purchased our first home, I was pregnant with our first child, and all was right with the world. (Although I’m sure the turkey thought otherwise.) Since then, I have hosted several Thanksgivings—usually due to defeat against Lisa at our very thoughtful and sophisticated method of deciding who gets to host, Rock, Paper, Scissors. But it is always that first time that comes to mind when reminiscing about past Thanksgivings. After years of watching my mother prepare for Thanksgiving, then having it go to my sister, I had finally  become part of the rotation. I had arrived! 

 
To me, what makes Thanksgiving so great is that no matter who hosts it, everyone brings something to the table…literally. The conversations weeks ahead to decide who’s bringing what; the kids advocating for their favorite dishes; making sure the desserts include something for everyone—it’s family collaboration at its best. Thanksgiving is probably the biggest meal of the year, yet it comes together seamlessly because everyone works together for the common good—eating, laughing, sharing and being together. And to me, that truly marks the start of the holiday season!


Diana's husband Evan with their very first Thanksgiving turkey (minus the giblets!)







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