Throwback Thursday #14 – Holiday Meals

Lauren is our hostess this Thanksgiving week and she chose a great topic – whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not. The idea of a holiday meal includes any holiday occasion your family celebrates. That covers a lot of ground.

To participate, head over to Lauren’s post, read the rules and join in. Lauren gives a little guidance to get the creative juices flowing:

This week’s prompt is: Holiday Meals.  While most people, here in the U.S.  have the typical Thanksgiving turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, not everyone follows the crowd. Think back to holiday meals you participated in when you were younger. Feel free to write about Thanksgiving, or any other holiday meal you choose. Please share any items of food that you or others might feel are out of the ordinary. Do you have memories of any special or surprise guests that came to any of your holiday meals? Did you ever have a catastrophic holiday meal?  Do you still carry on the same holiday meal traditions you had as a kid, or have you changed things up? Are you now typically the host or hostess for meals (sans Covid) or do you usually participate as a guest? Does your family like to go out for holiday meals, or do you prefer to stay at home? Is your table setting different for holiday meals? Do you decorate the whole house as part of your mealtime mood? Please share some memories of your special holiday meals.

This year we had a small gathering – just my son and his children. My husband fried a turkey outside and I cooked all the traditional holiday side dishes. Our meals have a southern influence, so we include collard greens cooked with smoked turkey wings. I make my grandmother’s cranberry (Jello) salad too. My grandson requested I make carrot cake this year, so I passed on making a pumpkin pie. My husband always asks for a blueberry cheesecake, too, so there is no shortage of desserts. We added a new pre-Thanksgiving tradition this year. My husband bought a portable firepit and Thanksgiving eve we gathered around the fire and made S’mores which the kids loved!

Thinking back to years past a few memories rise to the surface. Dinners at my maternal grandmother’s were always big. All the women would gather in the kitchen to prepare the meal. When it was time to eat, the adults would be seated at the long dining room table my grandfather made, while the plethora of grandchildren would be relegated to any spot they could find, from the piano bench to the long steps that led to the bedrooms. Plates were balanced precariously on our knees.

My father was an only child, so dinner at my paternal grandparents was quite different. My grandmother used her “good” China and everyone sat together in the dining room. On the rare occasion our second and third cousins joined us, there was another table in the utility room when the children ate.

Easter dinner always included a 3D cake shaped like a lamp covered in white frosting and coconut. My sister inherited the Griswold cake mold and used it for years until it was lost in a move across country. I thought about buying one of the molds and found one on sale on ETSY, but at the price of $325 I decided against it.

I do not have a lot of memories of holiday dinners with my nuclear family because I think we were always at one of my grandparents’ houses. I do recall one year when we had Thanksgiving in our house in Ohio. I remember it well, because a man was there installing new tile in our bathroom. Odd, I know. The man tiling the bathroom kept coming in to check on the progress of the game because his son was playing for one of the football teams.

I remember one Thanksgiving when my ex mother-in-law came to visit. I was just about to stuff the turkey when she startled me as she almost screamed and said ”aren’t you going to take the lungs out?” I did not know the turkey had lungs, but they haunted me from that day forward!

One Thanksgiving I was at my father’s and my step-mom was making the turkey. Half way through the bake time, we lost power and my dad decided he would just finish the bird on the charcoal grill. Ha! I don’t think we had turkey that year. A few years later, we were again there for Thanksgiving. Everyone was seated at the table when my step-mom came into the dining room carrying the beautifully baked turkey. As she got to the edge of the table, she made an abrupt turn and went back into the kitchen. It seems she had baked the turkey with the entire bag of giblets in the cavity and she was horrified when she saw it!

I remember one very sad Thanksgiving. It was the year I was divorced and my children left to spend Thanksgiving with my ex and his parents. I did not cook just for myself. I stayed in my pajamas and watched tv all day, feeling rather sorry for myself. It was the only Thanksgiving I ever spent alone and I vowed to never do it again.

There have been so many lovely family holiday meals in my life. I have truly been blessed. We are always thankful when included at the table of friends and family. The best meals are those enjoyed with the people we love.


10 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday #14 – Holiday Meals”

  1. As I was an only child, we only really had a big family celebration at Christmas. We would go to my grandmother’s house at midday, and all the women would start preparing the food while the men went to the pub. When they got back at around 2:30, there would be a traditional meal of Turkey, Capon, Ham, and all the trimmings, served to 12-16 people, everyone seated on trestle tables and benches in my nan’s parlour.
    Then most of the adults would sleep for at least an hour, before a tea of mixed seafood and bread and butter was served. Later, there would be a house party of up to 30 people, with singing around the piano played by my aunt, and lots of drunken dancing. As a child, I thought it was all wonderful.
    (Never any Collard Greens though, whatever they are. 🙂 )
    Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. Your holiday celebrations sound fun although I’m not sure about the drunken dancing at the close of the day.

      Collard greens are a bitter green from the kale/mustard green family. They require removal of their tough stalks and braising for a long time to soften the texture and the bitterness. When properly prepared, they are wonderful.

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  2. It’s wonderful that you’ve had so many terrific Thanksgiving meals. I enjoyed reading about your family gatherings. I too, was sad for your solitary holiday. Family and friends make treasured memories. I don’t remember the last time I had carrot cake. Maybe your grandson has started a new tradition. I am so happy that you spent your holiday meal with loved ones. Thank you for sharing about your holiday meals. Who knows, maybe in the future we we’ll share meal and make wonderful memories.

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    1. Thank you for a lovely throwback post, Lauren. Holidays are such a mixed bag of memories, aren’t they? We had a lovely thanksgiving and are so grateful. It would be nice to someday share a holiday together.

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