Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving, that blessed event, is in just three days. I'm so looking forward to it and wanted to share that with you, as well as some practical help that might be of use. I know you're very busy this week, and may just want the practical part. If so, skip to the last paragraph. If not, and you have time for a little nostalgia, here you have it.

1) My birthday is November 26th, so each Thanksgiving is somewhere within a week of it. The holiday is not only a celebration of national, familial and faith-filled significance, it has special meaning as I personally reflect not only on what I am thankful for in life, but what the past year of my life has brought and what I look forward to in the coming one.

2) Thanksgiving REALLY IS about giving thanks! No matter what trials we may be going through, there are also immense blessings on so many levels - family, faith, freedom, provision and so on! This day is a time to look squarely at those blessings and not let them be obscured in the periphery. At the dinner table, after we are full from a wonderful meal (see #3!) we all go around and say what we are thankful for. I tell you what - it is the most beautiful part of the whole meal and probably any meal, all year long. We always thank God for this country and for the men and women who serve it, for the wonderful freedoms we often take for granted. We thank Him for freedom to worship and serve our Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave his life for ours 2009 years ago. We thank Him for family, health, provision and many individual joys and victories we each may have experienced in the past year. Last year, my Father also read the original Thanksgiving proclamation by Abraham Lincoln. Our eyes flooded with tears as we listened to these incredible words. I cherish this time of sharing so deeply.

3) The meal. Along with most of America, I love the foods of Thanksgiving; the nostalgia, the variety of options, the whole taste bud sensation! But as a person who loves to cook, host, and serve, Thanksgiving offers more satisfaction than any other meal. It's beloved family and the sky's the limit! I also delight in the process of planning the sumptuous event. I'm sure I've said this before, but I am a planner. If I was an artist, planning would be my medium. So basically, Thanksgiving gives me a chance to do most of which I most enjoy, for my wonderful family.

My first Thanksgiving in the driver's seat was the year I turned 21. That year my birthday landed on the actual day (as it does this year) and I determined that as a fully legit adult it was time to take charge. It was a shaky start let me tell you. I'm not lying when I tell you that I found myself in the fetal position on my Mother's floor at one point, crying hysterically because she had dropped my painstakingly created raspberry puree, rendering it useless. OH THE TRAGEDY!

It's been eleven years now and I've learned so much. My Mother has been a wonderful, patient teacher and along the way I know I've shown her a few new tricks as well. I've also opened my families mind to all the possibilities this meal can have, especially when you take the basics and give them a twist.

This year has been a special joy as a couple of my dear friends are cooking Thanksgiving dinners for the first time. The emails of ideas, advice and menus have been flying and I'm so excited for them. I've shared with them my planning document and they thought it was helpful, so I'll share it with you. I think its important to work within your own experience, know your space limitations (oven space, serving and cooking dishes), and determine how much help you have. Then, make a plan and refer back to it as you go along. I keep mine prominent in the kitchen. By biggest caution is not to try to do too much! As I told my friend, better to do 5 things really well, which come out hot and on time, than 8 things and some of them suffer.

Happy Thanksgiving week to you all! If you have questions or thoughts or advice desired, please post them here! I'll try to help.


  1. amen! thank you Julie for all of your wisdom! I tuck it away in a special place:) and will share it with my friends and family too! we are all so THANKFUL for you, your birth, your life, your friendship and of course your AMAZING skills in the kitchen! You are so lovely and dear to teach us and help us as we embark on our first year of turkey day hosting. My fear and anxiety over the whole day has disappeared and because of you and our sweet Father I feel calm, excited and prepared. Thank you for taking the time to write this post! much love, coco

  2. OH Caitlin - you just warm my little heart. xoxo

  3. I'll think of you and thank you every time I make this turkey which will be every single year for the rest of my life. Thank you for sharing your turkey secrets with us all. I followed the recipe, mostly. I did add some extra fresh herbs and things to the brine including apple cider vinegar. I also only roasted front and back because I don't have a v-rack yet and also because it was one less thing to do. The skin still turned out crispy and wonderfully salty.

    Curious about the gravy recipe you used.

  4. Beautiful write-up. I look forward to the day when Thanksgiving is delegated to me. You can be sure I will be coming to you for planning help.


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