Saturday, November 28, 2015

AM~Erica is Quietly Thankful in Tradition

So anyway...

A couple of days ago, our family took part in  a day that so many other families do on the 4th Thursday of every November: feasting and giving thanks.

Don't get me wrong, gratitude is regularly given, but this is supposed to be some sort of beautiful culmination with others on THIS day.

Our day began as it has the past several years. Some background first:

When we moved back to the KC area after 3 years in St. Louis, it became easier to handle holidays like this one. Why? Because our family was pretty much all in KC. It was good to be home! However, when we returned, it became apparent that gathering at my grandmother's house for brunch (as we had done for so many years, as far back as I can remember) may be difficult. Not only for her, but to get all of us out there, and to make sure food was brought in. So we decided that we would love to host the Thanksgiving brunch at our house. So, like Captain Picard's #1, we made it so.

My grandmother made about 3 of the years, but got to where she didn't feel comfortable leaving her abode. Those years, we made a point to take her some dessert so someone could be with her.

Also in the past, we would have big dinners with my in-laws. As time & circumstances scooted around in many different ways & forms, we decided to host the evening meal, too. After my grandmother passed (still missing her dearly), and with some topsy-turvy craziness, we were holding the meal at our house.

Now then, we still held our brunch with my folks & brother, as we've done for several years now. We cooked up eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, fried potato hash browns, and cinnamon rolls. With some kitchen renovations going on at my parents' house, we cooked everything. Which was fine by us. We actually keep it simple enough to be able to do so.

After a really nice visit with my folks, they left to go out to my uncles for the afternoon/evening. This is when we would generally get ready for my in-laws to come that afternoon & evening for the big meal...but this year was different.

Most of the in-laws had moved over the spring & summer. With some health issues & other circumstances, none of them would be coming to our house. Now then, we did let one of them know they were welcome to come, as my sister-in-law is in town due to life circumstances - so we made sure to let her know she could come over & we would have food.

As it turned out, she had gone ahead & made plans with a friend she was staying with. Sad she couldn't join us, but it was OK.

There was so much rain! It just rained, and rained, and rained...
My hubby had gotten a new (to us) smoker from my dad. My hubby was really excited to use it to smoke our turkey AND ham for the evening's feast! With scooting our patio table closer to the smoker to put the umbrella up to protect the smoker a bit, it was a crazy-ingenius way to keep the smoker going.

Eventually I made most of the other dishes, and my hubby took over the yams & rolls.

By the time dinnertime rolled around we had a delightful spread:

First up is the meat. My hubby smoked a beautiful turkey & ham. It was his first time EVER to brine a turkey, and even smoke a turkey. Everything was smokey-delicious & was better than restaurant our family's own humble opinion.

The kiddos voted to have mac and cheese as a side, of course. So I bumped it up to Pirate's Booty brand aged white cheddar shells and cheese, then added a sprinkle of parsley to make it appear fancier. Kids loved it! YAY!

My hubby took care of the yams. Simple yams with a few marshmallows to be warmed & toasted in the oven.

I make the cranberry sauce! Homemade stuff around here. It makes me happy when I get to make it.
(recipe HERE)

When we were originally putting our menu together, we talked to the kiddos about what they might want. Teen Boy, one of our pickier eaters, said that he couldn't imagine the Thanksgiving feast without things like cranberries, stuffing/dressing, and mashed potatoes. No, he doesn't eat any of those things...but he just felt like it wasn't the holiday if missing this sort of montage of dishes.

With that said, and we obviously chose cranberries, we were deciding whether to do mashed potatoes or stuffing. I brought up doing colcannon as our mashed potatoes. My hubby was thrilled with the thought! So, colcannon is what was decided upon. And it might have been my best batch yet!
(recipe included HERE)

We knew we needed rolls. I put my hubby in charge of the rolls, and he chose these bread rounds that were about the size of Lil Guy's head!

We got the feast finished up & placed onto the table as Teen Girl was getting the simple table settings ready.

The plated feast

Shortly after our bellies were satisfied, we realized we forgot something - the green beans! I forgot to steam them! Since this was the case, we decided to save them. As green bean casserole is not the biggest hit around here (I mean...I like it), I try to keep it a healthier option by sautéing mushrooms & onions to add to the steamed green beans, plus toasting some almonds, for a beautiful hericots verts (harrah-co vay) dish.

After enjoying all of this around the table, Teen Girl brought up wanting to play some Apples to Apples.

When our family plays this game, wildness generally ensues! Just when you think you've won the judge with your card, there's one that seems to beat yours...OR...everyone has a throwaway card because nothing matches, and the judge has to pick from a selection of nothing that goes with the main card. We laugh until we cry, often. Also, we found the weirdest way to end the game! As we made our way to the last round, and the last person (who just happened to be me in this case), there was a consensus to make the judge pick 3 rounds of selections for the same card just to get rid of cards! It was evilly hilarious, and we may keep this ending to the game for future play.

Then we moved onto our first night of our 4th annual holiday movie/treat run!
(some past tradition interminglings HERE)

This year, we drew our numbers right before Thanksgiving. With Teen Boy drawing the ol' #1, we decided to get things rolling with his picks on Thanksgiving night - especially since there's 5 of us picking as we lead up to Christmas.

I decided to make the fudge. When I made it 3 years ago, it didn't set. We had a fudge butter! Not a bad thing, but it was interesting eating it with a spoon. This time, it totally set up & it was near perfect! YAY!

Teen Boy became hesitant about his movie choice. He seemed gravely disappointed that he might have to change his selection when he learned we were going to watch "A Christmas Carol" performed just a couple of days prior. (reminder HERE with yet another update) However, I did inform him we could keep it as such, and there was no reason to change.

See, they are two different tellings of the story! After we watched the movie, we got to discuss the differences, what we liked & what we didn't.

We saw the movie in the theater when it came out in 2009. We were surprised by how close to the story it seemed, and how not-over-the-top it was for a Jim Carrey movie! It seemed to stay pretty close to the original telling. Some variance, but surprisingly subdued, yet beautiful.

As we got through with this viewing, especially with the one-man-show storytelling of Gerald Dickens, we discussed what was different, what was the same, what we liked & didn't.

Then it hit me! It has been SO many years since I've really read the book. I've taken it for granted & have just heavily leaned on all the different tellings on stage or screen for many years. After pointing out one glaring inconsistency in nearly every telling I've come across, it got me thinking that I really want to read it again. The Mid-Continent Libraries have done their job in bringing in Mr. Dickens to tell the story! I am really wanting to read it again! On pages, and between front & back covers. I'm yearning for the words of Charles Dickens. So I must get on that!

With all of that said & done, plus a couple of glasses of Antioxidant Fortified Jesus Water enjoyed, it was time to call it a night, know that I'm thankful for all we have, for the quiet we got to take in, the roof over my head, the family under it with me, the food we are able to provide, and traditions we can take in, no matter how weird they may seem sometimes. God is so good!

Thankfully, we had enough leftovers to enjoy for another meal. My hubby pointed out that it seemed less glamorous the next night; but even with the food being served from storage containers & on paper plates, it was still just as delightful as it was the night before.

And now we are moving forward into our full-blown Christmas season! Time to prepare an ongoing skit with the hubby for church, as well as a dance to help start the liturgical season of Advent.

In the midst of it all, so thankful. Here's to our own traditions! *CHEERS*

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica


  1. You write very well. What great thoughts

    1. Thank you so much, Kellie. I appreciate that. And I'm so glad you stopped by!