I remember the days of old when I used to be more worried about where I would be spending the biggest bar night of the year at (the night before turkey day)than what Thanksgiving Day was going to bring. I didn't have to bring anything to thanksgiving and all I had to do was show up. It was a given that my grandmother would have all of the fixings ready. Our tradition was to head over to Nanny's house around 11am. We would sit around and watch football and enjoy the smells coming from the kitchen. We would eat around noon and stay long enough to get everything out again for turkey sandwiches on Nanny's homemade bread by 5pm. We would all gather round the kitchen table and start our Christmas lists, work on crafting some ornaments and sharing some laughs. Our departure was always sad but we would usually head out early enough to make a stop at our other Grandma's house for a visit. Thanksgiving was always a long day with several stops but the memories are fond ones.
When I married my dear husband we made an agreement about the holidays and it works out great. The Mott Family always made Thanksgiving their holiday. They were always together on Thanksgiving Day over at their Aunt Trudy's house. This had been a tradition for well over 30 years. We decided that I would give up Thanksgiving with my family and I would get Christmas. Aunt Trudy gave up Thanksgiving 6 years ago due to age and exhaustion and we took it on. There is nothing more exciting for me than the month of planning and shopping that goes into having nearly 50 Mott's over for Thanksgiving. I miss my family on Thanksgiving but I am so busy in the kitchen that I don't spend too much time dwelling on it.
I love how we are developing our own traditions that combine some of both families. We have each family bring a side and the party starts at 2pm. I cook one large turkey in the oven (must make the house smell fabulous) and we deep fry 2 additional turkeys. Tommy carves the turkeys and Nadine is my right hand lady in the kitchen. It is funny how everyone has their special item to bring. Aunt Pam brings cheesy potatoes because she makes the very best ones. Aunt Nadine brings the salad because there is no one who makes a salad like Nadine does. Aunt Kathleen brings the pies because she uses her mothers recipe and it is just tradition. Aunt Jill always brings the cranberry relish and a dessert that the kids love. The nieces and nephews are all getting older so they are now bringing appetizers and desserts. The nieces and nephews always request my homemade mac and cheese (I am so flattered that they love it so) so I make sure there is plenty. I add some additional sides, punch and drinks and we are all bulging at the seems by 5pm. After we eat the men generally take a brisk walk around the block with or without a cigar while the ladies gather round the kitchen table for the annual craft. This year we will be making glass tile necklaces. We try and do something different every year and it is just a fun way to continue the evening. Everyone has spread out and some are napping, some are tasting the desserts and some are wrestling with a random kid. Eventually the food comes out again and people start picking and grazing. The coffee pot is brewing and the evening turns into darkness. The teens often start up a game of some sort in the living room and the little ones will start a movie in the basement. It is not until close to midnight when the last of the guests says good bye and another Thanksgiving passes us by.