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A Rite of Passage: Hosting Thanksgiving

I am a true adult.  Marriage. Motherhood. Work. Bills. Responsibilities.  Yep, it’s all checked off the “things that make you a grown up” list.  But, somehow, I especially feel like I have reached adulthood status during the holidays.  The feeling starts creeping in around November 1.

The most wonderful time of the year has a knack for making me feel so freakin’ old, completely grown up.  It’s because it’s now up to me to create memories and new traditions for my family. I want my son to grow up with wonderful and warm holiday memories like I did.

It was in that spirit, I decided we would host our first Thanksgiving two years ago.  Our family members stretch from the Rio Grande Valley to Austin.  It just so happened 2013 was a great year for my parents, brother, and in-laws to join us.  Now, nothing crazy happened, except, the craziest thing happened!  It was the day I realized there’s a lot more on that Thanksgiving table than turkey and all the fixings.

A Rite of Passage_ HosGrowing up, Thanksgiving meant my parents spending the day in the kitchen.  My mom started chopping the night before and preparing the stuffing and casseroles.  My dad thawed the turkey and on Thanksgiving morning, he woke up before the sun to butter and season the bird.  He kept a watchful eye, basting and roasting the day away.  As they filled the kitchen with the wonderful aromas of Thanksgiving, I slept in.  I played. I watched TV.  As I got older, I went out with my friends the night before Thanksgiving.  My job was to pick the baked marshmallows off of the sweet potato casserole.  It actually still is.  What an awful daughter, right?  I occasionally helped peel the potatoes…I think…maybe? My siblings and I helped set the table.  I can say that with certainty! Anyway, I was truly spoiled.  I was expected to eat and enjoy.  I met those expectations every year.

So, imagine my shock when I decided to host our first Thanksgiving.  I was excited to have everyone together in our home.  “I can do this,” I thought.

My adventure into hosting Thanksgiving started with the basics.  I needed supplies, the tools of the turkey trade.  I picked up gravy boats, a turkey platter, a roasting pan, a meat thermometer, fancy placemats and napkins, and all the other little odds and ends I never knew I needed.  Well, that wasn’t so bad!

Then came writing down the recipes with every ingredient (and particular brands) added to the master list.

Then came the grocery shopping on a level I had never experienced before.  This was my Facebook post on November 20, 2013 after my Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza:

“Thought I was a grown up before today..but no, today made it really official. Did my first Thanksgiving shopping, bought my first turkey and ALL the trimmings. I am exhausted. I had no idea it was such process! Think I like it better when I just show up at my parents and it’s already done. Innocence lost…”

Innocence lost was right.  I mean there were a lot of decisions to be made in those aisles and a few phone calls to mom and dad.

Now, on to the cooking. Here’s where I cheated and had my parents help me.  In all fairness, they knew driving down here that they would not actually escape the kitchen.  Plus, they know better than to trust me completely with the cooking.  So, for the first time, I helped chop, mix, and bake the night before.  I set my alarm and woke up before the sun with my dad to butter and season the bird.  I was really hands on, a dream sous chef, if I might say so.

IMG_1861  I made fresh cranberry sauce! Did you know they pop when you simmer them?

IMG_1862  The stuffing ingredients ready to be made in to deliciousness

IMG_1863  The bird thawing

In the end, we had a beautiful turkey and table.  For some reason, I did not get a good photo of it.  I think I was too busy getting everything on the table. So, I can show you this photo of a wine bottle we had on the table that day. If you check out the background, you can see the side dishes!


There was no major disaster.  We didn’t have to order Chinese food.  It just felt like a huge milestone, right up there with graduation.  It made me truly thankful and appreciative for every wonderful Thanksgiving meal I have had before and after my hosting duties.  I mean this might sound ridiculous, but I had no idea how much energy goes in to making that wonderful Thanksgiving feast.

I look forward to the next time we host.  I am not sure my training wheels will be completely off, but I will know a little more.  This Thanksgiving, I am truly thankful for all the years of my mom’s chopping and baking and all my dad’s basting and roasting.  I am thankful for the ingredients you can taste and those that you can’t see.  Love. Time. Energy. Talent.  It’s all right there on your Thanksgiving table.

Have you hosted Thanksgiving?  Do you have any lessons or funny stories to share?  I would love to hear them!




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  1. Divide and Conquer: Planning Family Time During the Holiday Season | Rio Grande Valley Moms Blog - November 20, 2015

    […] your family members while cutting back on your cooking time. (Did you read Lisa’s post about Hosting Thanksgiving?) Keep in mind how many guests you will expect so that you can accommodate them, both with space […]

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