This is the time of year of reflection for many people, myself included. We reflect on the accomplishments of the year, things that we need to improve on, and start making plans for the year to come.The holidays are also a time where we can think back on family tradition and loved ones.
When I was younger, Thanksgiving was always a celebration of family. Each year my Grandma, Great Aunt, and Great Uncle would drive to Michigan from upstate New York in their maroon Buick. They would be with us all week leading up to the big event, and I’d always stay up late talking to them about everything.
The day of the big event, my mom and grandma would be cooking all morning, and my Aunt would always show me how to properly set the table. This was, of course, after my dad, uncle, and I would watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
My older brothers (I’m the youngest of four) would arrive before the big game (Detroit Lions – always) with their wives and girlfriends, and we’d all gather around. In my family, it was key to have Thanksgiving early – because everyone knows that the real reason for all of the food was for leftovers. We’d always have sandwiches, chips (with dip – of course!), and left over pie for dinner. After clean up, I would always sit at the kitchen table with my mom, grandma, and aunt to talk about the past and eagerly listen to stories from generations before.
As time tends to do, it moves too fast and turns tradition into memory.
We lost my grandmother and uncle, my brothers had moved away, or were deployed overseas, or needed to split the holidays with their wives’ families, and my parents moved to Florida. Our traditions turned into phone calls – but the memory was always there.
In full transparency, Thanksgiving became another day for me. I focused on my Black Friday shopping list, would spend time with friends, or go to Ford Field and watch the Lions.
This brings us to 2016. One of my brothers was going through a divorce and this would be his first holiday season alone after 20 years of marriage. On a warm August morning, my mom called me – asking if I would bring the family together to host Thanksgiving, as she and my dad wouldn’t be able to make it home this year.
I immediately said yes, and got to planning. I hadn’t been with my brothers on Thanksgiving in 15 years, but I was ready to tackle this. Let’s be real, I hit Pinterest hard – really hard.
I also got working on my guest list: One of my brothers was living in Texas on base and couldn’t make it – but I still had two brothers, one sister-in-law, three nephews, my nephew’s girlfriends… and of course, needed the support of Matt. Here’s where I got nervous, his mom, her boyfriend, and Matt’s brother were also coming. This was my second time meeting his mom – so I had to impress. If you’re keeping track – we had a total of 14 people coming to my very first Thanksgiving.
In order to make room, I set up two folding tables in the basement and lined them with white linens. From there, I had a mixture of my great grandmother’s china, dollar store dishes, and cloth napkins. The table was adorned with glitter gourds and twinkle lights – all to set the tone of this fall harvest.
I had taken the week of Thanksgiving off of work and spent my days cleaning and my nights cooking. This was also the day that our local store had a wicked deal on a new TV and I had to make sure we watched the Lions in style.
My menu was insane – but I live off of the motto: go big or go home. And I went big. Really, really big.
- Deviled eggs
- Vege tray
- Cheese and meat platter
- Shrimp cocktail
- Firecrackers (green onions, cream cheese, and ham)
- Stuffed mushrooms
- Turkey (I brined, and slow roasted!)
- Turkey (deep fried)
- Mashed potatoes with gravy
- Autumn salad
- Green beans
- Cranberry sauce
Dessert (the best part)
- Cake balls
- Pumpkin cheesecake
- Pie (apple, cherry, pumpkin)
- Wine with cranberry juice
Through the tragedy of life, we were able to temporarily bandage broken hearts and create new memories. This was a wonderful experience and one that I won’t soon forget.
Scroll below for some pics.
What are you favorite memories?
Thanks for walking down memory lane with me.
xo love kim