I don’t readily admit this, but I believe in my 11 years of marriage I’ve cooked Thanksgiving dinner once. MAYBE twice.
Our first Thanksgiving as a married couple I somehow remember vividly. We were poor. We had upgraded from our cardboard box table to a real table thanks to my husband’s grandparents giving us one.
We had a thrift store futon in our living room that was my pride and joy. A couch AND a bed. Sweet!
We might not have had much of a Thanksgiving that first year had it not been for my job. I worked at a call center after school doing sales. I don’t remember the details, or how it happened but I won a turkey! Still a newlywed, I was thrilled to cook a turkey for my husband.
I called my mom. She isn’t a human cookbook who can rattle off recipes like nobody’s business, but I do remember her making Thanksgiving turkeys… In a brown paper bag!
She told me how it helps keep the juices in the turkey, and no, it wouldn’t blow up my kitchen.
I made green bean casserole (my favorite Thanksgiving dish) cranberries, scalloped potatoes and mac and cheese. It was delicious, and our full bellies told us all of the dirty dishes were well worth it.
It’s basically my one domestic success in my marriage. And sadly that was 11 years ago.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a great excuse for dropping the ball the last 10 or so years (there were a couple years where we visited family and I didn’t have to cook. Let’s just count those as wins). I hate admitting this but at least three of the last seven Thanksgivings have been at Golden Corral. No cooking, no dishes. No fuss.
Now is the part where I’m suppose to tell you I’m turning over a new leaf and cooking for my family of four this year. Nope. We are celebrating Thanksgiving in Utah where my fabulous in-laws are providing the meal. Sure, I’ll pitch in. But the pressure isn’t on me. Does that even count? (I’m counting it.)
We’re going to be surrounded by family, once-removed cousins “so many cousins!” as Lil’ J puts it. Lots of food, family and fun. I’m hoping it’ll be the kick in my pants to remind me about the importance of these traditions. Lil’ J is five now and I don’t want her memories of our Thanksgivings together to be crowded buffet restaurants.
I want her to remember me attempting to cook a turkey in the oven with a brown paper bag. Or baking a homemade pie. Or SOMETHING.
Something my children will remember when they’re celebrating their Thanksgiving as a new husband or wife, and want to call me and ask for tips.
I may not be a Betty Crocker mama, but I can learn a thing or two, and hopefully make it a tradition worth treasuring.
Here are a few things I’m considering starting this year:
Dish duty: From lessons in table-setting, to doing the cleanup together. Seventh Generation natural dish liquid is tough enough for all the grease, but natural, hypoallergenic without dyes or synthetic fragrances. Stuff I can let the kids use. I have fond memories of large rubber gloves and a sink full of bubbles. I think my kids could get in on that.
Making a dessert with the kids: Let them choose one, and we shop for ingredients and make it together. Technically this is baking, not cooking. And I actually appreciate the exactness of baking that cooking seems to neglect.
Hunting for the wishbone: We did this when I was a kid, my sister and I always pulled it apart together while making a wish. The one with the longer piece’s wish would come true. I haven’t even introduced this concept to my daughter yet.
What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions that don’t involve food?
A big thanks to Seventh Generation for sponsoring this story. I’m partnering with them as I share my imperfect life and ways I’m trying to improve it with you. If being more conscious of natural cleaning products, dish soap, and eco-friendly diapers are on your list of priorities, head here for more information. As always, all opinions are my own.