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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Tom Robbins famously said: “There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better.”

I’m not really in my Tom Robbins phase anymore, but I still think that quote is clever – even though there are obviously two kind of people in the world: Those who get excited for Christmas as soon as Halloween is over and those who need everyone to slow down and enjoy Thanksgiving.

I am 100 percent in the latter group. I have had a file of Thanksgiving recipes started since July, despite the fact that I know I will ultimately make the same tried and true dishes I make every year.

An article from yesterday’s Washington Post (or WaPo, as the kids say) made me laugh because of all the things I sometimes miss about my ex’s huge Midwestern Catholic family at the holidays, there is not a single recipe I got from my divorce that I would make again. The fettuccine Alfredo made with melted cream cheese and powdered Parmesan from a can? The gloppy casseroles made with cream of mushroom soup? The tinned cranberry sauce with molded rings and a tang of aluminum? The “crab pockets” made with canned crab, cream cheese, and flattened white bread? Hahahaha NO!

I was so happy when they finally gave up and let me do all of the cooking, and ever since then, I have done it every year. Even now, when my husband is inarguably a better cook than I am – more precise knife skills, deeper knowledge of food science – I still do almost all of the Thanksgiving cooking.

And just like I always tell myself I am going to branch out when I go back to a favorite restaurant and yet somehow find myself wimping out at the moment of truth and blurting out my old standby – I always think I will make something new and exciting for Thanksgiving (butternut squash mac and cheese! mirliton casserole! artichoke dressing!) and then make the same old menu:

  • Pumpkin and black bean soup
  • Homemade bread
  • Turkey
  • Sage-and-onion dressing
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes with bourbon
  • Brussels sprouts with bacon and lemon
  • Cranberry-orange relish
  • Gravy
  • Cherry & pumpkin pies with homemade whipped cream
  • And then two days later, turkey-and-sausage gumbo

Despite my custody agreement stating that my ex and I are supposed to have Ruby alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas, we usually just let her decide – and because she is a NOLA girl with a good palate, she has consistently chosen to do Thanksgiving with me and Christmas with her Missouri family.

They do a lot more for Christmas,” she says, wisely. “They have fancy embroidered stocking and everything. But the food is way better when you make it. And they don’t even try to make gumbo.”

(Trust me, kid, that’s for the best.)

Are you more excited for Thanksgiving or Christmas? And what’s on your menu this year?



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