Thanksgiving – Traditional vs. Beach
My family is quite traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving. We gather, we cook, we enjoy the day of preparation and family, and then we feast. Over the years we have tried a few tweaks to our traditional day, like eating at dinner hours instead of our usual late lunch. But, we found we prefer late lunch because then we can take a family walk after our meal and for us the day has a better flow. We have tried different turkey roasting techniques and recipes, different stuffing recipes, different side dishes and many different desserts. However, since stuffing and certain side dishes and desserts like pecan pie only make limited appearances through the year and for us usually only at Thanksgiving, we would miss our old favorites when they were replaced by something new. No matter how great the new addition was it rarely overtook the old favorite the following year. So, with the Hardy side of the family, we now have Thanksgiving down to a science:
- Create a menu with input from everyone that includes mainly our old tried and true Thanksgiving traditional items along with one new side dish and/or dessert to mix it up a bit.
- Order a Diestel’s turkey. Diestel Turkey Ranch is just about a mile from my parent’s home in California and we pick it up at their ranch the day before Thanksgiving. These beauties are now sold (I think nationally) in certain grocery stores like Whole Foods, but long before their turkeys were well-known our family was ordering our turkey and driving over the day before Thanksgiving to pick it up. Their turkeys are the best. Period.
- Prepare all menu items possible in the day or days prior to Thanksgiving with all of us together at my parent’s house. (I will admit that depending on work and school schedules my Mom has been a complete trooper and gone it alone at the grocery store and in the kitchen in the days before Thanksgiving many times. But, in the truly perfect Hardy family Thanksgiving we are there to help the day or two prior.)
- Wake up all in the same house on Thanksgiving morning, have breakfast, and relax. Yes, RELAX! We can do this because we roast our turkey the “Aunt Shirlei” style that takes WAY less time and tastes amazing. (Watch for Shirl’s upcoming blog post with details on her super easy, fast and delicious method.)
- Set the table. Choose a tablecloth, often one of vintage lace from our family line. Almost always using gathered leaves or a kid’s art as our place cards. Admire my Mom’s pretty and just-the-right-size-and-shape for everything serving collection. Use her lovely fall plates. Place her great-grandma’s silver on cloth napkins.
- Roast the Turkey. Complete all other cooking. Warm or assemble the pre-created dishes.
- Gather everyone in the kitchen and watch and wait for Mom and Dad to finish the gravy. This is truly ALWAYS the last thing before we sit down because it has to be done after the turkey is done to use the juices and it always takes longer than expected. Every year. It is actually a frustrating (for my mom and dad) and funny (for the rest of us) unintended family tradition…Waiting for the gravy and what is said when it is getting close. “Everyone sit down, the gravy is almost ready! Hurry up before everything gets cold!” I can hear it now.
- Eat and always laugh. Share what we are thankful for while at the table or just skip the words and look around the table being so very thankful for what is on the table and who we are sharing it with.
- Go for a family walk.
But in 2017, I did not eat Diestel’s turkey, do any cooking, set the table with my Mom’s special finery, or wait for the gravy. We went to Florida and started Thanksgiving morning at the beach!
Since I have been married, we switch every other year between Thanksgiving and Christmas with our two families. This was our Thanksgiving to spend with my husband’s family. His family is a bit more geographically scattered and while we gather all together when we can, often…like this year…we are just with my husband’s mom and dad. They are older, retired and now spend a good many months in Florida while it is cold in the Northeast. This year they decided to go earlier than usual and be in Florida for the holidays. So, we spent our first ever Thanksgiving in far south Florida where it was about 80 degrees and the condo we stayed in was 10 minutes from the beach. Untraditional for us. Then, because my husband’s mom is older and has had some recent health issues, my in-laws decided we would eat out. Very untraditional for us.
This year the Hardy 9-step plan to a perfect and amazing traditional Thanksgiving was replaced by a 3-step Florida Thanksgiving plan.
- Wake up and eat breakfast.
- Go to the beach and spend the day.
- Eat a gorgeous Thanksgiving meal prepared by others.
Well, my friends, I am a girl who cherishes traditions but conversely I also love new ideas and new adventures. So, which Thanksgiving is better? I am going to just say this…I am so very thankful that I am blessed to have had many years of our wonderful traditional Thanksgiving and hope to continue it every other year through to having my own grandkids…HOWEVER…every other year at a beach or doing something new and different is also quite wonderful.
I hope that your Thanksgiving, traditional or non, family or just friends, near or far, was perfectly wonderful.
I am Judy and David’s daughter and Mel and Tillie’s and Fred and Luella’s granddaughter. I am the beaches and coast, lakes and steams and mountains of California. California is in my heart and soul, where I grew up, and it will always feel like home. My family and my oldest, cherished friends are there and dotted around the West. But, I am also downtown Chicago where I walked to work in knee-high snow and the shores of Lake Michigan where my husband and I strolled pulling my son behind us in his red wagon so he could learn to pump a swing and build sandcastles at the playground on our local beach.Read More