I went grocery shopping yesterday, an errand our family does almost every Sunday. Sunday grocery shopping has its own sort of rhythm or cadence, but this was no regular shopping errand day, it was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and you could sense the anticipation in the air.
There were a noticeable number of adult children, walking or pushing elderly parents, obviously working together to find the items for their family feast. At first I noticed a woman, probably in her 50s, holding arms with her mom, looking at produce. Next it was another grown woman, her mom in a wheelchair, holding a recipe, looking at parsnips. It was remarkable really, all these pairings of family members, choosing foods for Thursday. That’s when I realized this picture of inter-generational grocery shopping models our culture’s view of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a special holiday, where food and food traditions take center stage, er table. “Cooking the turkey” is passed down amongst many families from generation to generation in the same way you might pass down a special piece of china or jewelry: with reverence and the weight of responsibility for, in some cases, almost a sacred task.
In our own family, my mom hosted the extended family feast for decades. This is the first year our family will take the reigns to host almost the entire extended family. SPH and I are excited to host the crowd for turkey day, but I also realize that there are “certain ways of doing things” that can’t be broken.
So I’m placing my creative cooking juices on the back burner, since there would be many disappointed faces if certain dishes weren’t a part of our holiday table. For our family, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli salad are a must. There are other traditions too, from the typical pumpkin pie and carrot cake to the cranberry sauce and olive tray.
I’m guessing you have your own food traditions with which you are loathe to part. But if you are looking for a new rendition of a recipe, or perhaps you’re family is open to creativity and new dishes, here are some of my favorites to share with you:
Cranberry Sauce with Clementine and Ginger
Mashed Sweet Potatoes (a new rendition for our family--so I guess we are open to some change)
Fennel Sausage Stuffing
Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes
Really Good Gravy
As for the desserts, well, that’s up to my Aunt Joanne. She is a master baker and the keeper of the recipes. One day, she *might* let me share those too.
Life is sweet,