We didn’t live near any relatives when I was growing up, and since my mother doesn’t particularly enjoy cooking (I think her motto is something like “cook to survive”), Thanksgiving wasn’t ever a big to-do for us. However, when my family moved to St. Louis twelve years ago, we found ourselves close to family, and that family could COOK! Boy, could they cook. We started spending Thanksgiving together, and I enjoyed the food, the camaraderie with cousins I had never really known, and the overall atmosphere. It was a new holiday experience.
Of course, once I started keeping kosher, I wasn’t able to partake of the yummy food anymore, and then I went and studied in Israel, and then I got married and moved away from family. My husband didn’t exactly grow up with any Thanksgiving traditions (ah, cultural differences), and since I make the food quantity equivalent of Thanksgiving every week, I was okay with forgoing the tradition.
Until my parents came to visit us over Thanksgiving weekend three years ago, that is.
My parents are great, and they come visit as much as they are able to, which we love. Oftentimes, this means they are sacrificing their holiday time to come be with us (I think the grandkids are really the main draw). So, three years ago, they decided to come over their Thanksgiving vacation.
I realized that my parents, while they aren’t foodies by any stretch of the imagination, would still be missing out on the yumminess of all that good food. I found out that my mom had been telling her co-workers that even though she wasn’t going to be having a Thanksgiving meal, the trip was well worth it (grandkids are yummier than turkey with stuffing, after all). And I greatly appreciated their sacrifice, as well as the massive consideration they give to us whenever they come visit. Our lifestyle is just a touch different than theirs, after all.
So, while I was not about to make Thanksgiving only to make Shabbos a day later (or to serve leftovers on Shabbos, which just doesn’t do it for me), I wanted to do something for my parents, to show our appreciation. I decided to make a Thanksgiving-themed Shabbos. We had done Chinese Shabbos, Mexican Shabbos, what have you, so why not a Thanksgiving Shabbos?
I pored over my November issues of Bon Appetit and put together a spectacular menu. Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie – the works. I was really excited about this.
My favorite part of this plan is that I didn’t tell my parents what I was planning. Not until Thursday night, when I needed to start making the turkey (an 11-pound turkey is not something I could be discrete about). My mom and I had a blast preparing the turkey together, as well as making the rest of the dishes.
It was a very memorable meal, and my parents were so grateful. My mother was able to return to the office bragging about the fantastic Thanksgiving meal she enjoyed!
And so our tradition of Thanksgiving Shabbos began. This year will be the third that my parents will be joining us, and while I no longer have the time or energy to make a super-gourmet meal (sorry, Bon Appetit), I still stick to the theme. Also, my parents are both on diets, so I exercised a good amount of self-control and scaled back the amount of food. Here is my menu for this year:
Pumpkin Challah (I have already tried this one, and it is super yummy!)
Green bean salad (with craisins, fried onions and creamy dressing, à la the casserole)
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes (from Kosher by Design Lightens Up)
Glazed Turkey Roast with Cranberry Chutney (also KBDLU)
Frozen Pumpkin Pie (again, KBDLU)
Everything I served Friday night minus the roast. I’m skipping a cholent and making this:
Sweet Potato and Turkey Deli Roll (KBDLU)
~ ~ ~
I’m really looking forward to spending another Thanksgiving Shabbos with family, and happy to continue this new tradition for my kids.
Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions?