How Thanksgiving Went from “Meh” to Enjoyable for Me

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When I was a kid, I loved Thanksgiving. It was the first of what was like an annual two-part family reunion. Thanksgiving and Christmas were when my family came from all over the south to gather at my maternal grandma’s house for food and to catch up with each other. Some years, Thanksgiving was the star holiday as some family members would opt to stay at home for Christmas or rotate spending Christmas with their in-laws and other branches of their family tree.

After my grandma passed away, along with one of my aunts not too long after, our Thanksgiving family reunions just didn’t feel the same to me. I started to feel meh about the holiday. Our family grew and spread out but never quite came back together like it did when we gravitated to wherever my grandma was. 

Thanksgiving After Becoming a Mom

My son was born less than a week before Thanksgiving via cesarean. For obvious reasons, my husband and I stayed home. Maybe it was the comfort of not having to find something to wear outside of my new mama attire of pajama bottoms and a nursing bra, or the complete absence of F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out), but my feelings of obligation to celebrate Thanksgiving vanished. 

With the exception of the year I brought my daughter home to meet the family, I haven’t celebrated a traditional Thanksgiving since I became a mother. That year, I drove to my hometown across the Georgia-South Carolina border with my recently turned three-year-old son and four-month-old daughter. So many lessons were learned that day … like how long it takes before my son becomes overwhelmed by the noise and new faces, and that you can never have enough backup clothes for a baby on a liquid diet. 

Making Thanksgiving Less Meh

The following two years after my son was born, I spent Thanksgiving alone at home by choice. I had made it into my own personal holiday falling between Mother’s Day and my birthday. My husband, who very much still enjoyed Thanksgiving, would take our son to my mother-in-law’s for a traditional turkey day celebration while I got to eat whatever I had a taste for, and watch “chick flicks” uninterrupted from the comfort of my couch. I highly recommend it. 

The first year of the pandemic was our first Thanksgiving as a family since our son was born. Because of social distancing, my husband and children stayed home. Along with my mother who just moved in with us, and my younger sister who was staying for the holiday, we decided to start our own tradition of putting a twist on our holiday feast. We enthusiastically agreed to make a Thanksgiving breakfast for dinner. It turned out great with turkey sausage and gravy, French toast, an egg bake, pear salad, mini sweet potato pies with cream cheese sauce, homemade cranberry sauce, and savory hoecakes made to taste like Grandma’s dressing.

The following year I took to Pinterest for inspiration. I decided on making my lasagna, which takes me almost two hours to make. I found a delicious Italian-style ground turkey to use in it and served it with steamed garlic green beans, honey-roasted carrots, and garlic bread. It was a hit with the three adults in the house, but not so much with my little picky eaters who settled on eating just the carrots.

This year, I’m keeping the kiddos in mind as I plan the Thanksgiving menu. It’s actually a win for me as well since their simpler tastes mean simpler recipes. So, I’m thinking about trying out crockpot turkey cranberry meatballs, corn casserole, apple chopped salad, my husband’s sweet potato pie, candied pecans, and apple cider

Thanksgiving doesn’t look like it used to when I was a kid but making new traditions that fit my little family makes it a lot less meh.

What do your Thanksgiving traditions look like?

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Shacoya is a devoted wife, mother of an Âûsome son (‘16) and vivacious daughter (‘19), and caretaker of her loving mother. Columbia became her home after surviving sunburn and mosquito bites to meet and fall in love with her husband while they were working at the Riverbanks Zoo gift shop. Her love of writing began when she won the Young Author’s Award in the fourth grade and culminated in her writing a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days for the annual National Novel Writing Month challenge, NaNoWriMo, in 2019. Along with writing, Shacoya also enjoys the art of fake 'n bakin’ (making premade ingredients taste like homemade), developing the skill of actually using the pins on her Pinterest boards, fangirling Richland Library, window shopping on Etsy, and learning about ways to be a better human being.

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