Holiday To-Dos and To-Don’ts

November 12, 2010

Wow, can you believe we’re less than a couple of weeks away from Thanksgiving?

It feels like we just had Halloween twelve days ago, and now we’re about to officially begin the “holiday” season.

I’ve always liked Thanksgiving.  Easily the best use of an otherwise useless Thursday ever.  We used to combine it with Christmas as a kid when we’d visit the grandparents.  That pretty much ruled, even with Grandma cursing loudly in the kitchen over dinner.  But even without the gifts, and without Grandma, it’s still a pretty good day.

This year, my wife and I are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time.  We’re pretty pumped.  For one thing, most of the food is being brought to us, and that rules.  But we are both good cooks, and we’re going to show off a little bit on the food we are making. 

I have to admit, I can do without the green bean casserole.  It just doesn’t do anything for me, except for the canned fried onions.  However, I could eat an entire can of cranberry sauce, and I have accomplished this on several occasions.  I am contemplating doing this again.  I guess everyone’s got one holiday dish they don’t like, but one of my students told me this week that she doesn’t like pie.  Kids sure are dumb sometimes.

We also have a requisite number of games we play.  My family is full of loud talkers, minus my wife, so we like to play “Pit” and pretend to be on the stock exchange floor.  We used to make Christmas ornaments as kids, and I’m thinking we’re going to bring that back.  I’m guessing my brother’s ornament making skills will be at about the same level as they were when he was five, which is to say his skills were laughable, even for a five year old.

Not on the list of things to do is watching the parade.  I cannot see the point of parades.  Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.  Besides, aren’t cartoon characters slightly more entertaining when they’re doing something besides floating lazily above a street?  Like dropping anvils on each other?  That’s just me though.

So on this light Friday edition of the blog, I want to hear from you what your favorite Thanksgiving traditions are, and what is not on your Thanksgiving to-do or to-eat list.

28 responses to Holiday To-Dos and To-Don’ts

  1. Ah come on now, we all know that people only watch the Macy’s parade to see the horror of balloon death… a little wind … the wrong light pole and snoopy turns into the Hindenberg. Oh the horror. Speaking of the horror… those horrible jiggly jello blobules with unknown substances suspended in it. What are people thinking???? I’m with you on the green bean casserole. We normally eat fresh simple foods and smoke a turkey for hours in the Webber kettle.
    Linda B. recently posted..What I Think About Late at Night…

  2. I am going to commit high treason here Matt. First, I can’t stand (emphasis on can’t stand) pumpkin pie. I know…how unAmerican is that? I love the green bean casserole. Since I am the only one in my family who likes it that is the one day I can pig out on it. Cranberries are okay but not a staple with me or my family. I NEVER watch any parade (how boring is that?) and horror or horrors, NEVER watch a football game. I do however like to invite people who are by themselves over to enjoy the meal. Sometimes during the day I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Santa Clause.” If I take a nap in there somewhere that is even better. I also try to take some time if the weather is good to go for a bike ride and sometime try to spend time thanking God for all He has blessed me with. Whew I am tired just writing this.
    bill (cycleguy) recently posted..Is This For You

    • Half my family doesn’t like pumpkin pie! I’m setting out to change that this year by making an extra ridiculous pumpkin pie. Second, my family always watched “Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas” sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “White Christmas” is a fairly absurd movie in retrospect, but I still enjoy it.

  3. I’m with you on the parade thing. On the table? Rutabagas, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. Gotta love orange food.
    vanilla recently posted..Apologies

  4. My favorite thing is just hanging out with family. I’m not a fan of travelling because to me, it doesn’t feel like that mini vacation I’m expecting. But this year we’re going to NC for a couple of days to meet up with my in laws.

    My favorite dish? Spicy Kale and ham. Nastiest dish? Sweet potatoes with marshmallows. I don’t know, I’m just not a fan of that. I smell it and I instantly get a cavity.
    Jonathan Chang recently posted..Remix – Cheating in Hide and Seek

  5. I’m quite certain that we’ll start watching “Elf” sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend. We let our kids watch it for the first time last year, and they loved it but we’ve been on a break for many months from it! Let the quoting begin…
    Nicole @ Here’s The Diehl recently posted..His Theology is a Bit Off

  6. For the last 35+ years my mom has had Thanksgiving at her place. For the past 15 she’s said “I’m not having it next year.” Off and on we’ve made other plans, and she always ends up having it. Screws everyone’s schedule up. Last year was FOR SURE the last year she was having it, so I made plans to have it. Guess what? Turkey was on sale at Fareway. She bought it. She already roasted it. It always ends up looking eerily similar to the one in “Christmas Vacation.” And now she’s having Thanksgiving FOR THE LAST TIME. Lord help us all. The production & antics of an 85 year old bullheaded woman leading up to the day is exhausting. Oh and next year? She’s already said she’s not having it.

    I hate turkey. Heathen, I know (worse than bill-cycleguy up there). Just too many running gears & guts for my taste.

    And FYI, did you know you can buy cranberry sauce in the can all year long? Thought you might like to know that.

    • I did know that you can buy cranberry sauce, but you can also buy eggnog in a can. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I don’t have standards. 😉 Actually, I’m not a huge fan of turkey either. We’re setting out to put some extra effort into the turkey this year to make it more than a big dry pile of sleepy meat.

  7. Okay… I LOVE TO WATCH THE THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE!!!!!! I actually work my cooking schedule around the parade. I know I could tape it, but it MUST be watched live. I could do without any of the traditional Thanksgiving foods (never liked sweet potatoes at all until I learned how to make the kind that Jonathan Chang cavities), and even eat a chicken instead of a turkey, but I MUST be able to watch the parade, or my Thanksgiving Da is ruined!

    P.S. Would you like my recipe for HOMEMADE cranberry sauce?
    Helen recently posted..Shes Back- Shes Bad

  8. We’re just the opposite! I love green bean casserole and usually pass on the cranberries. Funny…canned cranberries made an appearance on my blog a few days ago. I must be getting in the spirit!
    My tradition is overeating and football..Lions are gonna take it this year!
    mo recently posted..163- Hollywood Miracles

  9. Oh, how I love Thanksgiving! We start the day with an overly sweet pastry breakfast and end it the same way with fruit wrapped in sagary crust. Seriously, it’s like the best holiday ever. I love that the whole point of the holiday is to be thankful and share a meal together. Then another favorite day follows Thanksgiving, BLACK FRIDAY!!! Oh yes, I will be shopping at 5am and loving every minute of it.

  10. Thanksgiving starts the Bermuda Holiday Triangle.

    Well last year we got all the way to my brother in-laws with the green bean casserole in hand. It was in the driveway my 6-year-old got sick. We never even got out of the car, passing the covered dish to saddened family members through the window of the Honda. We drove home an hour on a deserted Interstate and had no food when we arrived. Needless to say, I hope we are not going to repeat this in ’10.

    But that wasn’t even the Thanksgiving from hell. The first year my wife and I were dating we put on the spread for 21 of her family members. The mashed potato pot welded itself to the stove burner with 2 foot sparks. Her dad was downing nitro by the handful after that. Her man-eating Akita howled for most of the time, the fireplace flue broke; filling the house with smoke and respective alarm shrieks, the great-grandmother was freezing because we had to air things out, the grandmother got lost for over an hour and didn’t have a cell signal. I put the engagement off for a year.

    We love to play Balderdash, but we have an increasing amount of sore losers who hate to see me win. I think it will be Parcheesi or Pictionary this year.

    I like to have the traditional
    Green Slime Jello Salad. I also lived in cranberry country for 26 years with a bog at the end of my street, so I love everything cranberry. I am with you! Then there is the cranberry-apple walnut stuffing which can be better than the turkey, and the token bowl of creamed pearl onions. Oh and the canned fried onions never make it to the casserole that no one eats anyway.
    David recently posted..Geek Gifts for Her!

  11. Oh my gosh, it’s been forever since I’ve played Pit! We’re all loud talkers in our family as well (and those who married in and weren’t certainly are now) and we used to LOVE that game. Though the past few years we’ve been getting into Cranium type games.

    One of the nice things about my sister and I marrying brothers is that it makes the holidays much more compact. When you share in-laws, it’s a whole lot easier to decide who gets what holiday.

    And my favorite Thanksgiving tradition? My mom makes cold vegetable pizza every year for Thanksgiving night and I love eating that with a turkey sandwich, drenched with yellow mustard. Also, my grandmother makes a killer pretzel salad (which isn’t well-named, because it’s mostly a jello dessert with strawberries and cream cheese and other deliciousness, but it has a pretzel crust, so that’s what it’s called. Heaven.) and we get that every Thanksgiving.
    Alise recently posted..Blogiversary- Five years

  12. Early on I promised both our married daughters that we’d never “make” them come to our house for any holiday. Last year they were both here and it was wonderful. The worst year, they were both in LA, and my husband was in India (they don’t seem to consider Thanksgiving when scheduling conferences in India). I ended up at my sister-in-law’s house. It was her first-ever turkey, the house was way too small for the number of people present, and an unattended candle almost incinerated the living room.

    This year we’re bringing my 88-year-old dad and going to one of our daughters’ and son-in-law’s place, where we will roast a chicken, enjoy one another’s company, and thank God for all our blessings.

  13. I’m not a fan of the parade either, but if I’m ever in New York on Thanksgiving, you can bet I’ll be there.

    I also hate football on Thanksgiving, but since I live in Oklahoma, watching football on Thanksgiving is not considered optional. It’s going to be on.

    But I love all of the food. All of it, except for the cranberry sauce. 😉
    Margaret @ Single and Sane recently posted..Thankfully Alone Redux

  14. We’re doing Thanksgiving tomorrow – my brother-in-law, who is hosting it this year, remembered not too long ago he was going to be away on Thanksgiving, so everyone else realigned their lives. :::roll:::

    I LOVE sweet potatoes, and Thanksgiving is the only time I get to do it, since nobody else in my immediate family can stand the sight of them. I do NOT like ham, so that would be my no-no.
    Joanne Sher recently posted..Finds for Fridays- November 12- 2010

  15. Honestly, I’m not a fan of turkey. Very rarely have I ever had Thanksgiving turkey that wasn’t dry. However, I do love the day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich…turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayo, on homemade white bread. YUM! I also love the sweet potatoes with the marshmallows. The Holidays are always awesome and are my favorite time of year, but it’s usually a little touch and go for me since I am the only unmarried child left on both sides of my family. The Holidays for me tend to consist of answering questions as to why I am still single. My answers get more and more creative every year. This year I think I am going to try out, “I don’t know, Grammy, maybe it’s because I always insist on having snot-rocket contests on the third date???!”
    Katie M recently posted..Random Saturday

  16. Don’t care for the parade either. Do like cranberry. I do like the green bean casserole, but don’t care for canned soup. So i make it from scratch.

    My favorite part of Thanksgiving is it is the ONE holiday we don’t have to travel. The family comes here to another family member’s vacation house. We do host some of the guests, but it is celebrated there. But we don’t have to make the 2+ hour drive to spend it with family.

    Since i don’t eat gluten or meat, turkey, dressing, & gravy are all off the list for me. I’m not much of a foodie, however, & make do.
    Kathryn recently posted..Thursday

  17. I make a KILLER cranberry dish. No marshmallows or cream cheese. Everyone who tastes it; love it. Even my teenagers love it.
    Everything else is super traditional~but tasty. Alway moist turkey, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, fresh veggie options, rolls (the only time of year we eat them) And tons and tons of PUMPKIN PIE. And pumpking cheese cake. And then pumpkin pancakes; pumpkin muffins; pumpkin soup…Really the only purpose of Thanksgiving is to kick off pumpkin recipes.

    Our family is far away, geographically and emotionally, so we try to find ‘family’ to invite over to hang out for the day. This year it looks like it will be college students who can’t make it home.

    But they all have to leave at 9 p.m. so that I can plan my strategy for BLACK FRIDAY!!!!! That’s MY tradition. Yah baby, I’m a crazy 5 a.m. shopper. It’s the thrill of the hunt!

  18. My least favorite dish is the syrupy sweet potatoes. I have a recipe for mashed sweet potatoes that has just a touch of syrup and pie spices. I also LOVE cranberries, but the chunky kind, not the kind that comes out in the shape of the can that you can slice it into disks.

    My least favorite Thanksgiving activity is going to more than one Thanksgiving dinner, which used to happen every other year when we shuffle between my husbands dad’s house and his mom’s house for the exact same dinner. Last year, however, I think she was inspired by God and the huge amount of turkey leftovers from previous years because she decided that instead of serving the exact same thing that all of her kids had just finished eating, she made ham and other things. And God rewarded her with seeing her kids and their families actually EAT her food and telling her how great the food was.

    My second least favorite activity happens in my family the next day, when they get up at 4 in the morning to get to the shops early before the big crunch. Shopping, in general, is not my favorite activity, unless it involves books.

    I would enjoy the Thanksgiving Day parade without all the TV and Broadway show promotions in between floats and without being inundated with puns, which seem to be the only form of humor TV announcers know. Parades are more fun live than on TV in general.

    Maybe you could send the parade organizers an idea to have the balloon cartoon characters fight each other in the air.

  19. Thanksgiving will be at my sister’s house this year (yay! I don’t have to cook – however I promised to make a turkey pot pie with the leftovers the next night).

    Tradition at our house was always to watch the parade and then dig out all the Christmas albums (yeah, those big round vinyl things). My mom would not allow us to listen to them before the parade was over. She was convinced that it was bad luck to listen to or sing Christmas songs before Santa’s official entrance into the holiday season via the parade. To do so would lead to horrible circumstances. I’m sure she still believes this, so we have to do our early holiday singing very covertly.

    She also never allowed the tree to be put up and decorated until the 23rd of December (then it would remain up until Valentine’s Day…LOL).

    Favorite Thanksgiving food? I like to seriously spruce up my stove top stuffing with celery and onions and mushrooms and anything else I can think of to make it extra yummy.

    Oh yeah, one more thing. Cook your turkey upside-down…..all the juices go into the breast’s then and it ends up nice and moist.

  20. I will definitely be watching the parade. It’s “must see TV” for my family. One Thanksgiving, many years ago, before the kind folks at Macy’s decided to re-do Santa’s sleigh (maybe he got a hybrid), Santa used to stand up at the end of the parade and greet all the small children. Well, this particular year, Santa stood up, but his pants didn’t – they fell down. I keep watching and waiting, hoping that this will happen again, but Santa seems to have been ordered to remain seated at the end of the parade. He probably gets a recorded message in his Santa hat just like on the monorail at Disney World: Por favor, mantenganse alejado de las puertas! And if he doesn’t follow the instructions, he’s on the “naughty” list.