When we first started talking about Thanksgiving traditions, neither of us thought we really had any; at least any that were particularly unique. But then the more we talked, we realized that we do have traditions, some of them unique and some of them similar to many others, but nevertheless traditions!
Meal Prep/Table Prep/Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
We chop. We prep. We set the table all nice. It’s a bit of a mess though because I’ve done some initial Christmas decorating, but the table is Thanksgiving, so it results in a conflicted dining room. We also watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (with varying levels of interest).
I also caramelize a ton of onions in advance. I’ll use a good percentage of them with the green beans and save the rest for other use. If you haven’t carmelized onions before, I highly recommend it. They’re delicious with a hint of sweetness. It’s easy to do, but it does take awhile; also know in advance that they shrink (aka Seinfeld episode) and the yield from what looks like lots of onions is much less than expected. Here’s a photo of before and after. I’ve put the process I use for carmelizing onions at the bottom of this post.
Dinner is around 3:00. We crack open adult beverages a little in advance of the meal, which does take the edge off for those last-minute, down-to-the-wire tasks:) At dinner, we pray, we talk about what we’re thankful for and we have a leisurely dinner. No speed-eating this meal, by order of me. We talk, tell stories, catch up on relatives, friends and world events. I love this part of the day.
Walk it Off
Once we’ve wrapped up dinner and done a 90% cleanup, we go for a long family walk. Speaking of cleanup, I love the “I’m going to the restroom and will be right back” line. That’s code for, “I want as little to do with dishes as possible and will drag out my restroom visit to the point where a family member has to check on me.”
Living in Florida, it’s usually a comfortable walk to the intracoastal and it feels great after a heavy meal. The boardwalk to the intracoastal was heavily damaged during the last two hurricanes, so this year will be a much-appreciated walk to the end, as it recently reopened after being closed for a long time. Our family walk, which of course includes our sweet boy, Moxie, takes us about an hour.
The Rivalry and Black Friday Planning
We return and always watch The Rivalry … more on that in a moment. We also plan our Black Friday approach, which, as tradition has now established itself, begins with a 3:30AM-ish departure for the girls and a 4:15AM departure for the guys. I will say that I don’t have a huge level of enthusiasm for this tradition, but once we’re awake and are out the door, it’s always fun.
My husband gets up and makes everyone coffee, as it’s way too early to drive through Starbucks. Only crazy people are out at this hour. The girls, which include my brave, committed mother-in-law and my two daughters (16 and 19) usually start at the outlets, move to boutiques and finish at the mall. The good news here is that by the time we get to our first stop, the late-night Thanksgiving crowd has come and gone. The stores have been straightened up and new merchandise has been displayed. The people working at the stores are usually happy to see us, as it’s a reason to stay awake to the otherwise silent sound of no shoppers. The parking lots are quiet and dark; actually a little spooky.
What are we shopping for? Who even knows. We don’t have lists or even ideas, which is a telltale sign of a bad shopping strategy. We usually come home with gifts for ourselves. Then there are the items my girls express interest in that I agree to buy if I can wrap them and put them under the tree. It’s kind of a surprise… they don’t know exactly which package is which.
Meanwhile, the men (including my 79-year-old father-in-law, bless his heart) head to Home Depot for a zillion little poinsettias at a phenomenal price. It’s almost a sport. They get there before the store opens, wait in line, grab a cart/dolly and make a beeline to the little poinsettias. They used to be .99 each, but last year they went up and put a limit on the number you could buy, so my husband was most disappointed. He loves the deal on the poinsettias; first because it’s such a great value and second because it keeps me from going out and paying $5 for each poinsettia that could be had for .99 a few days earlier. After the Home Depot race, we’ll have 40 small poinsettias and three shop vacs. And maybe another wrench set that was a great deal.
We all meet up for a late breakfast and select trees. We return home and work on Christmas decorating, followed by a dinner out. We used to go to downtown St. Augustine because the lights are so beautiful and the environment is so festive, but as it’s become more and more crowded, we save that trip for a less-popular time.
And then… College Football
For our families, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is HUGE. The Rivalry is a documentary on the longstanding rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan. Every year it gives all of us goosebumps and I definitely shed a few tears when I watch it. It’s the perfect precursor to the game itself. For Laura, her husband went to Michigan and her son is a student there now. Her daughter, on the other hand, is a student at Ohio State, so talk about a house divided!
Our family is Ohio State ALL THE WAY!!! When Fred proposed to me, he had two conditions: he wanted me to take his last name and he wanted me to learn the Ohio State fight song. After shaking my head in disbelief that he attached conditions to his proposal, I knew that, while seemingly odd conditions, they must have been important to him. I agreed to both. We taught the fight song to our girls when they were old enough to learn it; we sing it as a family every Ohio State game day. We have a room dedicated to Ohio State, which is not the biggest hit in SEC country. See the pics below. We may never be able to sell our house!
Michigan is favored this year. Ohio State’s performance has clearly been inconsistent. My husband will be nervous all week and his group text of ten years will be blowing up every day, I’m sure. Stay tuned…
This is why I love Thanksgiving It’s about family, food, football, more food and a little Christmas prep! I’m so very thankful.
- (4) medium sized onions
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- olive oil
- Slice four medium onions.
- Heat olive oil on medium heat (enough to cover bottom of pan) in large skillet (mine is 14").
- Add onions to skillet when oil is hot and use tongs to coat them in oil.
- Sprinkle salt on onions and keep moving onions in pan.
- Once onions are softened (if they start to actually brown, turn heat down), sprinkle brown sugar on onions.
- Continue to cook for ~five minutes; then turn heat down to low or simmer.
- Periodically turn/stir onions while they cook slowly.
- After ~45 minutes, onions will have a carmelized color. Remove from heat and use tongs to remove from pan and excess oil.
- Let cool and use immediately or store in fridge.