Here it is, the big post about Thanksmas! In all the days leading up to celebrating, pretty much nothing went as planned and I was afraid that Thanksmas would be a disaster… luckily everything finally came together and we were able to enjoy what I hope will be a new tradition! Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for awhile now, while Christmas has been one of my least favorites, but combining the two and celebrating on a day of our choosing rather than the actual date made it way more fun for me. I don’t know, maybe it’s the non-conformist in me, but the older I get, the more I’ve come to dislike holidays. Balancing obligations and expectations has made holidays more stressful than enjoyable, so being able to declare our own holiday was really freeing!
Of course, the center of American Thanksgiving is the food. I contributed more in terms of dishes this year than I have in any year previously (though not nearly as much as I could have – we made it a priority this year to cook less than usual so we wouldn’t be as tempted to overeat and wouldn’t been slogging through leftovers for weeks). But rather than talking about the meal, I’ll just show you!
My mom and Don keeping busy in the kitchen! Don makes the BEST gravy from scratch.
Hugs from mom are one of the best parts of going home!
My mom has acquired some really lovely holiday dishes and they definitely set the mood. The table was beautiful!
Our lovely hosts :)
Red pears! They’re made with spicy cinnamon candies and they’re a Peters family tradition.
Cranberry relish is what I mix with pretty much everything savory on my plate. They’re tart and sweet at the same time, and the little dash of Cointreau my mom throws in doesn’t hurt either ;)
Mashed potatoes are a must. I’m a bit of a potato junkie, to be honest…
Individual portions of cheesy sweet potatoes. Ever since my friend Elisabeth made these for us when I was still in college, they’ve become a staple of our Thanksgiving table. I’m not a huge fan of sweet potato so this is pretty much the only way I’ll have them!
My great-grandmother’s stuffing (or dressing, depending on which side of the debate you fall) is awesome! I’ve had so many terrible stuffing dishes that get too dry, or burn on the edges, but my mom makes this perfectly every time. I should probably learn the recipe so I can carry on the family tradition!
Here was my special request – green bean casserole. For some reason, it’s never been a part of my family’s holiday menu. I had it for the first time ever when I spent my holiday with the Kindlers a couple years ago, and now I can’t have Thanksgiving without it! Something about mushroom and soggy green beans and crispy fried onions fresh out of the oven screams comfort food for me, and since I don’t eat many creamy things anymore, it was even more of a treat than usual this year.
One of my contributions: dinner rolls. They didn’t turn out like I had hoped (I think because I just didn’t have a good, warm place for them to rise) but my mom and Kurt said they liked them so I guess it wasn’t a total failure! Though to be honest, after everything else, these were pretty unnecessary so I’m not sure I’d do them again!
Here’s something new for this year – duck confit! Last year we had a pretty disappointing turducken but you can’t go wrong with confit. We were pretty clueless as to how to prepare it (it was already confit-ed but was supposed to be heated), but I took a hint from all the times I’ve seen people screw up duck on cooking shows like Chopped and made sure to render the fat. It was darn delicious, if I do say so myself!
And of course, the turkey!! We did a brined turkey for the first time ever this year and it was a great choice! My mom always stuffs orange slices under the skin to add flavor and moisture, and Don knocked it out of the park with the seasoning, so this was the best Thanksgiving turkey of all time. Even my leftover white meat stayed juicy for days!
You can’t tell me that plate doesn’t look gooood :)
My hubby being cute :)
I volunteered to take care of dessert this year and I decided to do vegan pumpkin pie! I’d never done anything with pumpkin before (and vegan baking is no walk in the park) so I was worried it wouldn’t work out… but they were a big hit! My mom had these adorable heart-shaped tins which were perfect. I’m not really into pumpkin pie but Kurt loves it so I wanted to do something special. While I wish they would have had a little more spice to them, it was the most authentically “pumpkiny” pumpkin pie I’ve tasted. Very very pleased with the recipe! I did end up cutting down on the sugar, which was a good choice. Timing these was a little tricky since they were in individual containers, but they set up nicely and came out of the tins without a hitch.
After dinner we exchanged gifts, and I think it was a good year! At least, it was for me and Kurt. I don’t want to assume that my mom and Don felt as excited as we were about our presents :) But I’m going to save talking about what I got for another post, since I’ve actually been very spoiled by my family with gifts this year for my birthday and Christmas. My gifts (and their gifters) definitely deserve their own nod!
I also feel like I have so much to be grateful for in general. The last couple of years haven’t been the easiest for me, but it seems like I’m finally feeling some peace and contentment with where my life is these days, even if I have no idea where I’m going to end up. My relationships with some of the people I love most are continuing to deepen, and I feel like I’m creating my own family full of people who nurture me, support me, and really want to know me. Growing older and navigating life even semi-successfully is no small feat, but I know I have people in my life who are there to support me, teach me, help me, and love me everyday. I’m grateful to this random universe and all of its strange beauty, and its unending ability to inspire me in one way or another. Things could always be better, but they could be a hell of a lot worse, and I do my best to appreciate the small things. Life is pretty darn good and I have a feeling it’s only going to get better. /end sappy paragraph :)
Thanksmas was really great and I hope it’s something I’ll be able to do again. I do love hanging out with a big family, but it’s also nice to do something a little quieter and more intimate with a small group too (at least for someone like me). My mom and Don are awesome cooks and wonderful hosts who always make me laugh and feel loved, so a big thank you to both of you :) Love you guys, and here’s to next year!