Goodbye Halloween. Hello, Thanksgiving!
Yes, I know some of you are already breaking out your Christmas trees and listening to Christmas music. Good for you! Play it extra loud for me, will ya? But I have children, and I’m especially keen on making sure a few of my favorite Cady Family Thanksgiving traditions continue through the generations.
Though there are a few I still cannot do because the littlest ones will destroy them, there are others I try hard to implement year after year.
1) Sage Cornbread Dressing. This is an absolute MUST. Sometimes I’m the only person who eats it. Sometimes the kiddos are adventuresome and give it a try. I’m okay with it either way. It’s an acquired taste, for sure. Mom would make me take a bite every year, and every year, until age 12, I’d gag and dry-heave. After that, I loved it. So, see? It only takes 12 years before you’ll fall in love with this super-spicy cornbread stuffing! No seriously. I love the stuff. It’s totally fantastic.
2) Mulled Apple Cider. This, by far, is my favorite Thanksgiving holiday. Even if we’re going to someone else’s house for dinner, I’ll still mull some cider in a crockpot the hours leading up to our departure. The mixture is simple. A jug of apple juice or cider (we Cadys are not picky), several cinnamon sticks, and about a bajillion cloves. To make it truly authentic, you may not put the cloves into anything that may strain them out of the way. No! Your mission, should you accept it, will be to use your ladle to shove said cloves out of the way as you carefully fill the dipper with cider. Then, if you have the misfortune of getting cloves in your cup (the larger the mug the better – 1/2 gallon mugs are the best! You only have to get up once!) using your lips to keep the clove from entering your mouth as you drink. It’s tradition, therefore you must do it!
3) Puzzles. My heart aches every year I choose not to break out a puzzle, as this tradition often spilled over into Christmas. We would spend weeks or months finding just the right puzzle for the occasion – the harder the better. Some horrible person even bought a 3-dimensional puzzle once, and I’m pretty sure one year the puzzle was one solid puzzle. There had to be at least 5,000 pieces, and we’d spend hours – yes HOURS at a time sifting through pieces until that bugger was finished.
4) Lots and Lots of Family. It’s really not Christmas unless there are at least 4,326 people in attendance. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but only by a little. Thanksgiving often meant family and loved ones coming from all over, and sleeping on couches, floors, under tables, on recliners, and nearly every place imaginable. Morning walking to the bathroom could be like walking through a minefield, and twice as exciting if there was a dog to alert the sleeping, or a cat to walk on their faces.
5) Home made rolls. Or, if I’m baking, hockey pucks. I think in my lifetime, I’ve made a decent batch of rolls only twice, and both times I must’ve passed out and had amnesia because I can’t, for the life of me, remember how to duplicate them! But I’m more than happy to insist that someone else make me some rolls because…it’s tradition, darn it!
6) Card Games. If we weren’t doing a puzzle, sleeping, or eating, some type of card game (or three) were going on in some area of the home. Some of my all-time favorites were Pinochle, Double Pinochle (not for the faint of heart – or those bad at math), 42 (a dominoes game), or a fierce game of hearts.
7) Eggnog. I think I’m the only person in my house that likes eggnog. I accept that. But this is more for nostalgia sake anyway. Every time I drink the creamy drink, I think of my father, and how dad used to become more giddy as we drew closer to the holidays. He tried so hard to make it special for us, and it truly did show, regardless of how much or how little we got that year. Each year, I buy a pint, fill my cup, and think of my father as I sip my drink.
8) Cinnamon Rolls. This ranks right up there with rolls (by the way, if you have a failsafe recipe of either rolls or cinnamon rolls, I would LOVE a copy pretty please!) I can get mine to taste pretty good, but they’ll sit in your stomach for a week! Still, I must persist!
9) Olives. Phalange tams. A child’s imagination paradise. For the sake of children all over the world, I often serve way more olives than are remotely necessary. I’ll put the olives on the table first, and play a game of trying to catch the little ones as they sneak up and grab some olives, running away and giggling. Soon, their little finger tips will be dotted with black “hats”, wiggling to some imaginary song as their owner’s gobble them up one by one.
10) Cranberry Sauce. I’m not sure I’ve ever even tried cranberry sauce. Ever. Our cranberry sauce consisted of that gelatinous mass that plopped out of a can and was sliced into several pieces then placed on the table for decoration. It must’ve been decoration because, in all the years I sat at the table eyeing the wobbling crimson goo, not a single slice was ever consumed. Still, I will follow tradition, if for no other reason, than to watch my own children’s faces stare at it with disgusted fascination.
There you have it! Thanksgiving Cady style! I’d love to hear what some of your favorite traditions are – good, bad, and down-right bizarre! And stay tuned for our Christmas traditions! We promise not to disappoint!