Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby Tammy » Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:36 am

My mother will be coming to our house for Thanksgiving this year, and it will be her first big holiday without my father. I was thinking that maybe changing some of the traditions may make it just a little easier for her. I know that having all my father's favorites will make her especially sad without him here to enjoy them with her. I'm hoping that doing some new things will help keep the mood lighter and give us all something different to focus on.

I don't want to be too drastic, though. I know some people have lobster or Italian food for Thanksgiving, but that's just noy my mom... She will want turkey, and I don't mind doing that traditionally, but I want to change up the sides and desserts.

What do you make for Thanksgiving that isn't traditional fare?

I was thinking about making scalloped potatoes instead of mashed or boiled. I may make homemade macaroni and cheese or baked beans as well. I have great recipes for both of those. Just not sure if they "go" with Thanksgiving.

I will also be skipping the pumpkin pie and chocolate cream pie. I was thinking maybe peanut butter fudge... Does anyone have a tried-and-true recipe for that? What about a different kind of stuffing/dressing recipe?

I welcome any and all ideas.
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Re: Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby cathie » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:57 pm

I'm big on switching up sides! My favorite non-traditional Thanksgiving side is spinach sauteed with garlic and raisins yum. My mum served brussels sprouts this year for Canadian Thanksgiving which went well with turkey, and roast potatoes instead of mashed. SIL made a couscous side last year that was yum, she's also made a rice pilaf with nuts type side dish (she watches a lot of cooking shows!) DH makes a mean pecan pie as our dessert, definitely works well with the meal.

We always have homemade mac and cheese at Thanksgiving because there are so many kids... so I don't think it's strange.

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Re: Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby jane » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:53 pm

tammy, you are thoughtful to think of things that would increase your mother's sadness. i went through this same thing from 1999 till 2005. my mom never wanted to quit speaking about dad on holidays, which was hard, but was important to her. what i'm saying is, take her lead on things.

as far as food, i always make chocolate cake and a spinach/walnut/apples/red onion/feta salad with a homemade vinagrette dressing. i'm not in love with the traditional sides and desserts.

i'm glad you are hosting, so your mother doesn't have that burden to deal with.
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Re: Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby mobetsy » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:56 pm

I like the roast potatoes idea because it is so easy!

On the one hand, the foods that are traditional for your family will probably make all of you feel sad. But you are going to be sad anyway, and there may be some comfort in sticking with the old favorites, especially if you have family stories around those foods. I do like the idea of keeping the basic ingredient the same but trying a new recipe or way of making it (like the stuffing, or the potatoes). However, before you do anything, I would talk to your mom about it, as she may have some ideas of her own...
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Re: Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby wanda » Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:41 pm

Jane, please share that salad recipe. It sounds like something I would enjoy.

Tammy, not sure that changing the menu will adequately address the loss, but it is thoughtful to try. Possibly try making a different style stuffing, if stuffing is a necessity. If it's not, then maybe make a rice pilaf or risotto. Roasted fall vegies would be wonderful. I often serve green beans (or snow peas) sauteed with red onions and mushrooms. Maybe consider a different style turkey, like a breast only that has butter and herbs stuffed under the skin...
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Re: Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby Linda » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:15 pm

((((Hugs))) Tammy

we do old-fashioned green beans (cook crumbled bacon in a skillet, add green beans and a smidge of water and some brown sugar and cook until tender) instead of green bean casserole.

I like sweet potatoes instead of white at Thanksgiving - I don't do the traditional candied with or without marshmallows though. I like mashed or roasted or I have a casserole with cheese which is good.

We also do Brussels sprouts and mashed yellow turnip/swedes/rutabaga (name varies by region)

desserts - I make a cranberry blueberry pie that is delicious and very seasonal :)
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Re: Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby Tammy » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:44 pm

Thanks for the suggestions -- I'm salivating just reading them.

I don't expect the menu to make a huge difference. It's going to be hard no matter what. I just want so badly for my mom to have at least some joy in the holiday. I also want it to be enjoyable for dh and Alec.

I will definitely be talking to my mom about the menu. She will likely insist on bringing something, as she loves to cook -- and I would never deny her any of her favorites.

Talking about my dad is a given. My mom definitely still needs to talk about him every day. I'm sure the holidays will be no different. I just feel pretty helpless and want to do whatever I can to ease her pain. She's still having a very hard time.
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Re: Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby April » Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:04 pm

Tammy the year that my father-in-law passed away, we all went around at Thanksgiving and said something we remembered most about him. It did spark some tears, but it definitely made the rest of the day a lot less tense. We also started the tradition of playing a family game after dinner...which also eased some of the tension. As for a non-traditional dish...I started bringing spaghetti squash along with orange and it's been a hit! I season it with butter, cream, Parmesan, garlic powder, salt and pepper and bake it and mmmm is it good!

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Re: Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby RhondaS » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:34 am

The truth is, the holidays are going to be very difficult, and you are all going to cry. Instead of trying not to (and I'm not suggesting you are), embrace it. Talk about your dad, laugh, cry, and get it over with. Then try to enjoy your meal and the rest of the day the best you can. It's been 9 years for us, and even now at Christmas, mom and I look at each other, cry a bit, get it off our chests, then laugh, relax and go on. You just do the best you can, and be thankful for the many memories you have. ((Hugs))
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Re: Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby Maelyn » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:46 am

Lots of good advice and recipes.
I've seen lots of variations on the holiday but one of my favorites is polenta as a side (either a sweet version or a savory).
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Re: Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby funnygirl » Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:47 pm

We made new traditions last year when we lost my dad. Mom now comes and stays pretty much the weekend, same with Christmas eve & Christmas.

We added new dishes last year because Dean brought his family ones into the fold. This year, we are changing up the following:

Adding a noodle based stuffing - replaceing his cornbread stuffing from last year

Doing a new green bean dish from Everyday foods

new ginger - cran sauce

Possibly adding pecan pie.

Traditional items will be: mashed & sweet potatoes, rolls, turkey, gravy, and pumpkin pie. We no longer make Ambrosia - my dad was the only one who ate it.
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Re: Changing Up Thanksgiving -- Ideas?

Postby Esmeralda » Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:33 am

I am sure this holiday season is going to be very difficult for your family, Tammy. You are a thoughtful daughter to try and make things easier for your mom. Great suggestions here for all these smart ladies.

I always make a sweet potato soufflé and broccoli and cheese casserole. Those go very well with turkey. I also make a little snacky thing called Christmas crack that we all love!
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