After signing a 30-year mortgage and getting hitched, preparing to host our first Thanksgiving dinner marks my transition into adulthood.
Since I was a kid, my grandparents have welcomed us for turkey, green bean casserole and Gram’s homemade pies. I’m very fortunate to have grown up close to both sides of my family, but my grandma and grandpa live a whole 15 minutes away. Even now — after I’ve moved twice.
Thanksgiving meant getting up early with my sister to watch the Macy’s parade from New York City, the pair of us eating Eggo waffles as we waited for the day’s festivities to begin. In later years, Kate and I began addressing our Christmas cards that day — a new tradition — and pouring over the flyers for Black Friday sales.
Things have changed, of course. For one, I usually have to work on Black Friday . . . though no longer as a cashier, thankfully. (Although I kind of miss those crazy, frantic sales days at Michael’s and Borders. It was the Super Bowl of retail, you know? Everyone banding together, ordering Chinese, wearing elf hats, working until the wee hours. I really did love the bookstore.)
And now we’re married. Grown-ups. Katie is at her place; I’m at mine. Last holiday season, Spence and I were very new newlyweds — and I was stricken with this panic that we should be starting traditions as a couple, trying to parse together what we should be doing on Thanksgiving morning. Which ended up being eating cinnamon rolls and watching the parade together, which . . . still good.
Now that we have a year of matrimony under our belts and I’m staring down the dark side of age 30, we’re beginning to cobble together our own traditions. When we settled on the house in May, I was already envisioning the holidays at our new place. The fireplace! The bannisters! The entryway! In my mind, everything was already covered in greenery and twinkling lights.
In fact, one of the earliest conversations I had with my mom — as we stood in the cold, dark house in the spring — was where we’d put the Christmas tree.
(And yes, I totally knew. In the corner by the fireplace, for sure.)
Now that Thanksgiving is a little over a week away, Spence and I have been busy getting the guest room ready for his parents’ arrival and plotting the extensive menu for our family dinner. As the guest list has expanded, I offered to take over hosting responsibilities from my grandparents this year. Gram has prepared our family feast for decades . . . and I thought maybe she’d like a break.
And here we are.
I’m feeling sort of sentimental about the whole thing. Thanksgiving, to me, is still buried somewhere under those sales flyers at my parents’ house — mixed heartily in with memories of Kate and me on the couch with stacks of cards, shouting when Santa appeared at the close of the parade. Standing over the stove with Mom as she made her mashed potatoes. Later, arguing with Dad over the wishbone.
It’s arriving at my grandparents’ home only to be hit with a burst of heat, Gram bustling in the kitchen as we all arrive in coats with covered dishes. Invariably someone will begin to sweat, prompting Grandpa to crack a door. “I’ve had the oven on all day!” Gram would say, pulling out casseroles and giving us our first glimpse of the much-anticipated turkey.
In time, someone would take over carving duties. My cousin, sister and I would steal olives and cream cheese-stuffed celery stalks from the dining room table. We’d all begin fussing with serving utensils, bread baskets, folding trays. And everything would appear in my grandparents’ dining room — magic.
Thinking that I am now partially responsible for said magic is . . . a little overwhelming. I want it to be awesome. I’m still processing the fact that: a) we own a house in which to even hold such an event; and b) I’m an adult who is also responsible for cooking. Until a few years ago, my contributions to Thanksgiving were . . . to show up with a smile? (I know. Terrible.)
And now we’re talking about roasting a turkey?
I mean, I’m being a little dramatic. Nothing unusual. It’s not like I am personally responsible for feeding a dozen people this memorable meal: everyone is bringing delectable dishes and desserts, and my mother-in-law — a talented cook herself — will be on hand to help before everyone arrives. Spence is also excellent in the kitchen and will be handling the turkey and ham, so I know we’ll be fine.
I’m just feeling a little nostalgic, I guess. About tradition.
But new ones can be formed, I know. Changed, altered, added to, sprinkled with a layer of glistening fake snow. In the end, it’s really just about being with loved ones, isn’t it? Having everyone together, preferably without the aid of smartphones and FaceTime.
And the green bean casserole, of course.
Gotta have the green bean casserole.
15 thoughts on “Crafting new Thanksgiving magic”
I’ll take a plate of that first picture, please. Happy Thanksgiving!
This post just made me hungry. I have never cooked Thanksgiving dinner in my life and I intend to keep it that way. I can do sides but not the MC…that comes precooked from Whole Foods!
This post resonates with me, not because I am about to host my own Thanksgiving, but because I’m 21 and graduating from college this spring. I want to make the most of this holiday season with my family because I have no idea where I’ll be next year when I’m no longer in this safe, secure world of college. On another note, I completely agree about the green bean casserole…it’s my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal and just thinking about it is making my mouth water!
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We just moved into our first house, and still haven’t hosted a Thanksgiving! I’m scared to be responsible for the turkey and entertaining friends and my parents. I guess I still don’t feel quite like an adult yet…
I look forward to the day that my husband and I have a place to cook thanksgiving dinner at (currently at in-laws). Even though I am NOT a cook, it’s just exciting. 🙂
Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I pray your new tradition is all you hope for. Best of luck with the turkey!
Some absolutely gorgeous food there! 😀
You will be absolutely fine! That first Thanksgiving dinner is overwhelming and chaotic, no matter how much help you get, but there is no better sense of satisfaction when your loved ones are sitting down to dinner at your house. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!
Lose the pressure of commitment and simply enjoy. You’ve made us all hungry!
Happy thanksgiving from an Aussie girl who loves the whole idea of being thankful 😄. Have a wonderful time 😊
Such a beautiful read, Meg! I love the way you write, but you knew that already.
I love the traditions you create (and am thinking of adopting the Christmas cards on Thanksgiving morning tradition) but look forward to seeing the new ones you create this year.
Good luck hosting! You’ll do fabulously, I’m sure!
You will be awesome! We started rotating holidays in my family, so my grandmother hosts Easter, my mom does Easter, and I get Christmas. My advice is to ask people for help when you need it and remember it’s about everyone being together more than a perfectly laid spread!
i have been married for 14 years and have yet to host Thanksgiving. 😉
Enjoy and good luck!
reading this is like deja-vu for me..i had the exact kind of transitions in my life lately, and have been looking forward to uphold the traditions which i grew up with.love the way you put everything so lovingly in words.
happy Thanksgiving, love turkey can’t wait to have some at christmas!!
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