Thanksgiving Traditions and Sticking Your Hand Where it Doesn’t Belong


I did it.  On Friday night, I went shopping for my bird.  I got a twenty pounder this year.  Chubby little sucker.  While I’m not yet in the mood to perform the bi-annual holiday colonoscopy—where I stick my hand up the bird’s backside to pull out the giblets—I’m working up the courage.

In the Craig house, I’m the main cook.   Someone may bring a dish, but for the most part, this is my party and I’m running the show. This is not my choice, or my need to be top chef, it’s just happenstance when a person doesn’t hate cooking and doesn’t suck at it.

And I really don’t hate it.  Preparing Thanksgiving dinner is like a form of meditation for me.  I go in, find my Zen—well, I don’t find it until after I perform the colonoscopy—then it’s like I move from snapping beans to peeling potatoes to preparing the two P pies—pecan and pumpkin—in a yoga state of mind.

Now, I’m not going to brag that my Thanksgiving dinner is better than Martha’s, but I swear to you I’ve never sent anyone to the hospital, and I’ve gotten leftover requestseven from people who didn’t attend the dinner.  Oh, and I got a real compliment from a stuffing-loving Yankee friend of mine who said, “I still prefer my mama’s bread stuffing with oysters, but that was the best cornbread dressing I’ve ever eaten.”

And yes, I’m a cornbread-dressing gal.  I’m from Alabama and if anyone had tried to sneak an oyster in my grandmother’s dressing, she’d have brought out her Southern can of whoop ass.

That said, I respect a good stuffing, minus oysters, of course.  Frankly, every family has their own gotta-have Thanksgiving specialty dishes.  Some people don’t think you can ring the dinner bell unless they have a ham on their table keeping the turkey company.  But the way I see it is, after you fill up with turkey, dressing, and the side-dishes, you don’t have room for ham.  The only speck of pork on my holiday table is the bacon I use to season my fresh green beans.

Another thing that doesn’t appear on my table, or in my gravy, is anything I pull out of a turkey’s butt.  I know, I know, giblet gravy is almost a tradition—even a southern one.  But I’m sorry, I know where they came from, and in the Craig house they go straight from tail end to the trash.  I make gravy, darn good gravy, using the drippings from my turkey.

We’re not a yam or a sweet potato bunch people either.  Although, I admit I recall fondly my mama’s sweet potato crunch casserole that was more like pie with oven crispy pecans, corn flakes and coconut on top.  Yum.  But hubby’s not a fan, and growing up neither were my kids, so it got knocked off the tradition list.  Neither are we into gelatin salads or desserts.  Though I’ve had a few of both that are quite tasty.

Our dinner consists of turkey—not fried, but baked—dressing, southern mashed potatoes with lots of real butter, giblet free gravy, green beans, peas, rolls—to soak up the gravy—and pies and cookies.  Oh, I can’t forget the cranberry sauce.  Shamefully, I don’t make it myself.  I use the can.  As a matter of fact, we have a silly tradition—in honor of my daughter—of how we serve that cranberry sauce.

The first time we left my daughter at home for the weekend she was a teenager, and unaccustomed to feeding her own dog.  Well, let’s just say she didn’t excel at it.  When we came home, in the dog’s bowl, was canned dog food in a perfect cylinder-shaped form. Poor Bosco didn’t know what it was, and wasn’t eating anything in that shape.  So hubby always opens the can of cranberry sauce and serves it cylinder style.And every year we get a laugh out of it.

And that is the best part of Thanksgiving. Not the cylinder-shaped cranberry sauce, but sitting around the table, laughing, loving and reminiscing while surrounded by family and friends. It almost makes sticking my hand up a turkey’s backside worth it.

Oh, and the next best thing is I don’t have to clean up. Since I do the cooking that job goes to those who didn’t.

happy-thanksgiving-day-hd-wallpaper-2013-001So what’s it like at your house on Thanksgiving?  What are the traditional side dishes that show up at your table?  Do you do the cooking?  Do you put oysters in your dressing or stuffing? I’m giving away a $10 amazon card to one person who shares something about their Thanksgiving.  Make sure you come back next Tuesday to see if you won.

Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all!


The winner from last week is Kristen. Congratulations, you’ve won an e-copy of Fighting Back. Email me at

10 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Traditions and Sticking Your Hand Where it Doesn’t Belong

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated Thanksgiving before. It’s not in our culture. But I can tell you what I’m planning: a Christmas dinner with my whole family, well hopefully everyone will make it this time. I can’t cook so I can’t do much for the cooking but I will try my best and bake whatever I can from cupcakes to pastries etc (decorated nicely with icing!). To those out there who celebrates it, Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  2. I used to eat Thanksgiving dinner at my mom’s house and she always made me devilled eggs (my favorite) but the past couple of years my fiance and I started our own traditions and started cooking at home. As long as there is stuffing then he’s a happy man! 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  3. I do all the cooking in our house, hopefully while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My momma and daddy come over and we eat off of our wedding china. Yes, even the two year old. I don’t panic at the thought that she will break the china. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are the only times it comes out. We eat canned cranberry sauce as well that is how I grew up, the real stuff grosses me out.

  4. For my family(since my mom died and now it is just me and gary), thanksgiving consists of turkey baked in the oven (broth used for soup the next day) or nuwave oven, jar gravy, small can of cranberry sauce (i don’t like it), potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie or pumpkin cake. i might try pumpkin cookies this year.

  5. For thanksgiving my family always hosts it. We invite close relatives and make them put their phones in a basket so none of us get distracted. We play card games, perform skits, and watch old family videos. I have never laughed harder on any holiday like this one. We all sit together and eat in the living room. And the best part is that I never get to these people and on thanksgiving I do.

    My moms cooking makes the day better.

  6. Cornbread dressing for sure! Thanksgiving is crazy at my folks house. In the last few years, we’ve taken more over from Mom and this year she isn’t doing anything at all. If the weather is decent, the kids run around outside and burn off all the dinner they are going to eat.

  7. Well for the last few years my daughter in law has been cooking the turkey as she the one of the best recipe for it. Normally we have just us in the house here to eat the Thanksgiving dinner but this year will be the first year without my mother in law as she just passed away from cancer just a few months ago. So this year everyone is coming to our house for the dinner, the father in law, all the kids, the grand kids and we just recently added a new grand baby. I am hoping this is a new start to Thanksgiving every year.

  8. Thanksgiving we always go across state to spend it with my in-laws. I don’t generally do much other than help with the cleanup of everything. There’s always turkey and ham but the side dishes very. I enjoy visiting people that we only get to see once a year and we exchange our Christmas gifts at that time.

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