Happy Holidays! Open Thread!

[Video: A Great Dane and a deer are best friends who snuggle and frolic]

If you love this time of year, this is your thread. Whatcha cooking? Who are you excited to see? What are you thankful for? What’s a favorite tradition that your family & friends have? Got any cool decorating plans?

Usual commenting rules apply, with this brief review:

  • BE KIND.
  • Don’t talk about calories or weight loss or diet stuff.
  • Don’t yuck other people’s yum. If you hate someone else’s idea, or it won’t work for you, they don’t need to know!
  • You can share longer thoughts/posts…by giving us a brief intro and then linking to the rest on your own site.
  • If you hate the holidays and everything sucks right now, I made you a thread, too. This is isn’t that one, so don’t cross the streams.
  • BE KIND.




186 thoughts on “Happy Holidays! Open Thread!

  1. Also, and I’m trying *really* hard to restrain it, but I’m thinking about next year’s Christmas, because by then I hope to be living in my first house and I would like host Christmas for the first time ever.

  2. Yay, holidays! I will be meeting friends for Friendsgiving on Saturday and this year I’m trying something new and fun – apple pastry roses. Because I still want them to taste like apple pie (because pie), I’m going to spend 5-9 hours on Friday reducing down apple cider to a syrup so I can put it in as filling. You can buy boiled cider syrup, but Amazon can’t deliver to me in time and the fanciest grocery store in town doesn’t have it.

    My Thursday will involve a chinese buffet. Om nom.

    1. I’m not sure how much you’re reducing, but I’ve made apple cider syrup for cider caramels, and reducing 4 cups only took me about an hour, so it might not be that bad, time-wise!

      1. That sounds much better than I thought! The canners’ recipe I found for it says 5-9 hours to reduce to a 3rd of the original amount and I was thinking of doing the whole half gallon (because that syrup is gonna be useful, you know), but I may scale back my expectations and do a much smaller batch!

    2. I’ve been wanting to try this for years and I think I’m going to finally take a stab at it for my anniversary (which falls right before Christmas) and then make them again for new years if they don’t fail epicly. Totally going to steal the syrup idea, it’s super smart πŸ˜€

      1. Yeah, it’s pretty much that same recipe! I’ve found a lot of variations, and I’m making a variation myself. Instead of putting in some sort of fruit preserves, I’m going to use a pecan/butter/brown sugar/cider syrup mix because I want it to taste apple pie-y.

    3. I had apple pastry roses at a Halloween party this year! They were so delicious and so lovely. I hope yours are fantastic, too!

    4. My roommate made apple roses for a party we had recently and they were DELICIOUS. She also said they were easy, which is surprising because they look so fancy! Giant thumbs-up to these pastries.

  3. I am excited for this turkey day because I am taking a conscious step back from my 40+ person family gathering and doing a less than 10 person get together at my house with my best friend. Thursday will be a home day, with no horde πŸ™‚ and I am thrilled!

    1. Yay small Thanksgiving! We’re just having our immediate family at home, no stress. We’ll have the big turkey dinner and then flop around on the couch watching whatever’s on Tivo while we digest. And everyone has their own quiet space to retreat to when they want some alone time. Woo hoo!

    2. That sounds wonderful! Years ago my family decided to stop trying to wrangle all the relatives we don’t like, and ever since, Thanksgiving and Christmas have been purely joyful. My parents host between zero and four relatives each year, which means that my siblings can enjoy parent time and time with each other instead of doling out time to distant relations. It makes a fantastic difference, and I bet it’s the same for you and your best friend.

      Spending the holidays with your ACTUAL loved ones makes a huge difference in, well, which thread applies, I think.

      1. We have just finished Thanksgiving dinner with precisely one more person than we have at an ordinary Thursday night supper – though a slightly different arrangement. I live with my husband and kids, plus my brother, sister-in-law, and younger niece. My kids are with their father for the holiday this year; in their place we have my older niece and her partner, plus younger niece invited her boyfrriend.. Eight of us, lots of yummy food, table conversation about RPGs and heavily sprinkled with obscure puns because we’re just that sort of family, and Thankfulness Prayers said variously to the Earth Mother, To Whom It May Concern, and to St Murphy.

        On Christmas, we’ll have roughly the same assortment of people, but my children will be there. We’re Jewish, but we enjoy spending Christmas with the rest of the household anyway; it’s rather like attending somebody else’s birthday party, for us. It’s not *our* party, but we can sure have fun helping the people whose it is celebrating theirs! (They’ll join us for Chanukah in between.) There shall be Who Roast Beast, carved by a very non-Grinchly gentleman; and true Yorkshire Pudding because ever since dating a lady from Yorkshire before we got involved, my husband has liked to do it up properly. And singing, late into the night; carols and filk and whatever else crosses our minds.

        It’s definitely not a traditional way to celebrate, but it’s ours. February will mark our third year living together, and I’ve never been so happy. Neither have the children.

  4. I’m doing a traditional meal with the immediate family and my boyfriend. I do most of the cooking and have a special dish that each of the attendees especially loves, and it makes me really happy to put a smile on the face of my loved ones. I haven’t done the Big Extended Family Thanksgiving in years, and while those can be wonderful in some ways, the smaller one is more my speed. Happy holidays, awkward army!

    1. Huzzah for the traditional bird! =)
      This Year Mom wrote a poem about it…

      Turkey’s View

      I didn’t expect this. There I was living off the land.
      I had the freedom to roam and visit the ladies. I was raised up with a large family.
      I was the largest Turkey in their range. You should have seen me gobble and strut my stuff.
      I could fan my feathered tail and wiggle my wattle.

      The next thing you know, I was in a freezer in Missouri with a lot of other saps.
      And it was cold! I was promised some heat and here I was in an oven in Milford.
      They are an Italian family and while they have their pasta first, I bath in this heat.
      The smells are terrific. I really like the onions in the stuffing.

      They are starting to come in now, all of them. They all say the same thing,” that Turkey smells so good.”
      I am slowly softening up and will soon be on the counter with a cover of foil on my head.
      Then I will head line the show with the stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and all that other stuff.
      However, the one who will always be remembered, is me.


      (Thanks Mom!)

  5. This year I’m on call, my very pregnant sister is due over the holiday weekend so I’m staying put in case I need to hop on the train and go birth her baby (not really, but hold her hand and stuff). I was going to make lonely Crock-Pot Thanksgiving casserole at home (layers of stuffing, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, green beans, and sweet potatoes, with cranberry sauce on the side) but a coworker invited me to her vegetarian Thanksgiving! So now I’m still making Crock-Pot Thanksgiving casserole, but I’ll get to eat it with friends.

    1. I’d love the recipe for this casserole. I’m not seeing it in a quick search. We’re going out to the Thanksgiving buffet at our favorite restaurant, fabulous food at reasonable prices. But it might be fun to make this later in the weekend.

    1. Shoot, I hadn’t thought of using a melon baller for these. The small cookie scoops also work pretty well, and are very efficient, IMO. It’s what I and a lot of my classmates did for our International Pastries final when I was in bakery school.

  6. My parents and brother are driving up to visit me! They aren’t staying with me! And we’re making pie but going out for Thanksgiving. Benefits: 1) We aren’t going to murder each other trying to make a full dinner in my kitchen, 2) I don’t have to call twice a day for 3 days asking “NO REALLY, what are we having, I need to buy it,” 3) I [still] don’t have to learn how to arrange everything around a turkey in the oven (counter-top roaster from the 50s ftw), and 4) MOST IMPORTANTLY, I don’t have to eat turkey because Thanksgiving food (besides pie) is not my favorite.

  7. So sorry if this posts twice, I have a love-hate relationship with WordPress…

    My parents and brother are driving up to visit me! They aren’t staying with me! And we’re making pie but going out for Thanksgiving. Benefits: 1) We aren’t going to murder each other trying to make a full dinner in my kitchen, 2) I don’t have to call twice a day for 3 days asking “NO REALLY, what are we having, I need to buy it,” 3) I [still] don’t have to learn how to arrange everything around a turkey in the oven (counter-top roaster from the 50s ftw), and 4) MOST IMPORTANTLY, I don’t have to eat turkey because Thanksgiving food (besides pie) is not my favorite.

  8. We’re going to the in-laws for Thanksgiving this year, which is our usual plan, and we’re bringing crockpot mac n’ cheese. I’m making green bean casserole today to take to my husband’s Thanksgiving work lunch. For once we actually have most of our Christmas shopping already done, only a few odds and ends to get with our next paycheck. So this year’s holidays should be pretty low-stress! Yay!

  9. I’m an Aussie living in the US, so I don’t have many associations with Thanksgiving and I’ll just get together with a few friends. But I’m excited about the cooking! I’m going to make seitan sausage rolls, they’re so realistic people swear there’s meat in there. I’ve made them once before and they were a hit.

    But also, I had some really fantastic seitan while I was in Chicago and I want to try a few experiments. πŸ™‚ So before I make the rolls I’m going to try mixing the seitan with various controlled amounts of pea protein and bean flour, see whether I can get that delicate chicken-like texture they have at Native Foods Cafe. For SCIENCE!

      1. Of course! I base it on the Infamous Seitan Recipe o’ Greatness, with several alterations:

        1. As per the notes in that link, I use soy sauce instead of veggie Worcestershire sauce, and I skip the allspice. I also double the cumin and add a little sesame oil for extra savory flavor. These are minor changes; season to your own tastes.

        2. Nutritional yeast has a savory flavor, but so many commenters on the blog mentioned that the nutritional yeast gave them weaponized farts, I didn’t want to risk it! So instead of using salt + nutritional yeast, I add bouillon cubes in the quantity that gets me the same amount of sodium that the recipe calls for. I use Massel’s “Chicken-Style” all vegetarian bouillon (it’s actually made with yeast extract). It’s easy to find in Australia, and my local supermarket recently started selling it here in Pittsburgh, but if you can’t find it you could use George Washington’s Golden Seasoning instead. The idea is to find bouillon that has a savory flavor rather than a vegetable-y flavor.

        How much to use: the original recipe calls for 1tsp salt, which is 2000mg sodium. A serving of Massel bouillon is a 1/2 cup and contains 400mg sodium, and each stock cube makes 2 liters (i.e. 4 servings) so that’s 1600mg sodium per cube. So I use 1 1/4 cubes. It’s ok, this ain’t a health food.

        3. One thing I really miss about meat is the fatty part. Good sausage has those succulent little cells of fat mixed through it. I tried to recreate this in a couple of ways:
        (a) Chop some pine nuts and add them to the seitan with the dry ingredients. This didn’t work quite as well – the nuts were firmer than what I wanted. I might try crushing the pine nuts slightly next time.
        (b) Fry some onions till they’re well browned and oily, then chop them finely and add them to the seitan with the wet ingredients. This was super tasty! You can do without the pine nuts but I think the onions add a lot.

        4. Assembly: I made a rough-puff pastry (similar to Gordon Ramsay’s or Smitten Kitchen’s but without the sugar). You can instead use pre-made puff pastry, which has the advantage that it’s probably made with vegetable oil, making the entire dish vegan rather than vegetarian. πŸ™‚ Lay out a big rectangle of pastry.

        Mix together the seitan ingredients. DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH – the original recipe says to knead it, but don’t! This stuff is so high in gluten, it will become tough and bready if you knead it. You want it to just come together.

        Mold some of the mixture into a sausage shape and lie it on the short edge of your pastry rectangle. Roll up the pastry over it like you’re rolling the sausage in a blanket, then cut it off the sheet of pastry. Repeat until you’ve used all the pastry or all the seitan dough.

        Take your logs of seitan in pastry, and with a sharp knife, cutting back and forth so as not to squash the mixture out, cut them into short sausage rolls. Place on a baking tray lined with alfoil or parchment paper. Bake as directed in the original seitan recipe, or until the pastry is golden and done (the seitan may cook faster than usual). The exposed ends of the seitan will get nice and crispy, and the pastry will protect the rest from drying out.

        Enjoy! πŸ™‚

        Before I do the whole pastry thing on Thursday, I plan to experiment by adding some proportion of pea protein to the mixture. I’ll also try steaming some seitan to see if I can get a more delicate texture. I’ll comment again if I discover an even better combination! But this baked recipe is pretty delicious as is.

      2. I typed out a long comment but it’s not showing up. If it’s still missing tomorrow, ping me and I’ll repost!

        1. Eep. I have made a mess of repeat comments because I could not chill. Mods, please delete this, the 5:12pm repeat comment, the 5:16pm “where is my comment?” comment, and this comment. Sorry!!

    1. I had good results by sort of “pulling” and doubling the raw gluten dough a zillion times before cooking it to get a more chicken-y texture.

      In general, though, the best texture I’ve gotten from seitan is when I pan-fry it before simmering it in the broth. You might already do that, but just in case. πŸ™‚

      1. I never do the simmering thing, it’s always sounded like too much work! (I know that sounds crazy coming from someone who’s already decided to do a combinatorial experiment to find the optimum protein blend for seitan.) Instead of washing the starch out of regular flour I just buy the gluten, mix it up and bake it, as per the Infamous Recipe. I am thinking of trying to steam the dough instead of baking it, but still with the high-gluten version. I might see what different textures I get with steaming before frying or vice versa. Thanks for the tip! πŸ™‚

        1. Oh, no, I don’t start with regular flour. I did it once and it’s in no way worth it, in my opinion. Simmering gives a much lighter texture–the time I baked it it ended up pretty dense.

          I just use gluten though, as for me that’s definitely the optimum protein blend. πŸ™‚ (I’m allergic to peas and beans.)

    2. Of course! I base it on the Infamous Seitan Recipe o’ Greatness, with several alterations:

      1. As per the notes in that link, I use soy sauce instead of veggie Worcestershire sauce, and I skip the allspice. I also double the cumin and add a little sesame oil for extra savory flavor. These are minor changes; season to your own tastes.

      2. Nutritional yeast has a savory flavor, but so many commenters on the blog mentioned that the nutritional yeast gave them weaponized farts, I didn’t want to risk it! So instead of using salt + nutritional yeast, I add bouillon cubes in the quantity that gets me the same amount of sodium that the recipe calls for. I use Massel’s “Chicken-Style” all vegetarian bouillon (it’s actually made with yeast extract). It’s easy to find in Australia, and my local supermarket recently started selling it here in Pittsburgh, but if you can’t find it you could use George Washington’s Golden Seasoning instead. The idea is to find bouillon that has a savory flavor rather than a vegetable-y flavor.

      How much to use: the original recipe calls for 1tsp salt, which is 2000mg sodium. A serving of Massel bouillon is a 1/2 cup and contains 400mg sodium, and each stock cube makes 2 liters (i.e. 4 servings) so that’s 1600mg sodium per cube. So I use 1 1/4 cubes. It’s ok, this ain’t a health food.

      3. One thing I really miss about meat is the fatty part. Good sausage has those succulent little cells of fat mixed through it. I tried to recreate this in a couple of ways:
      (a) Chop some pine nuts and add them to the seitan with the dry ingredients. This didn’t work quite as well – the nuts were firmer than what I wanted. I might try crushing the pine nuts slightly next time.
      (b) Fry some onions till they’re well browned and oily, then chop them finely and add them to the seitan with the wet ingredients. This was super tasty! You can do without the pine nuts but I think the onions add a lot.

      4. Assembly: I made a rough-puff pastry (similar to Gordon Ramsay’s or Smitten Kitchen’s but without the sugar). You can instead use pre-made puff pastry, which has the advantage that it’s probably made with vegetable oil, making the entire dish vegan rather than vegetarian. πŸ™‚ Lay out a big rectangle of pastry.

      Mix together the seitan ingredients. DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH – the original recipe says to knead it, but don’t! This stuff is so high in gluten, it will become tough and bready if you knead it. You want it to just come together.

      Mold some of the mixture into a sausage shape and lie it on the short edge of your pastry rectangle. Roll up the pastry over it like you’re rolling the sausage in a blanket, then cut it off the sheet of pastry. Repeat until you’ve used all the pastry or all the seitan dough.

      Take your logs of seitan in pastry, and with a sharp knife, cutting back and forth so as not to squash the mixture out, cut them into short sausage rolls. Place on a baking tray lined with alfoil or parchment paper. Bake as directed in the original seitan recipe, or until the pastry is golden and done (the seitan may cook faster than usual). The exposed ends of the seitan will get nice and crispy, and the pastry will protect the rest from drying out.

      Enjoy! πŸ™‚

      Before I do the whole pastry thing on Thursday, I plan to experiment by adding some proportion of pea protein to the mixture. I’ll also try steaming some seitan to see if I can get a more delicate texture. I’ll comment again if I discover an even better combination! But this baked recipe is pretty delicious as is.

  10. Every occasion with my husband’s family is the Big Extended Family Gathering since all of them life within 10 miles of each other. (Except us. We’re 30 miles out, but still go to most things.) Thankfully, I love his family. It used to be overwhelming but I’ve gotten used to it. One of the ways I’ve coped is by bringing one of my family’s traditions in. We make Cheesy Beans. Cheesy Beans are not green bean casserole. Instead, they’re canned green beans coated in butter, milk and a little flour and then smothered in Velveeta cheese. My family only breaks these out for Thanksgiving, Christmas and funerals on my dad’s side. I am SO EXCITED. I love this stuff.

    1. My family has a special dish like that, too! We make Grandma’s turkey chili recipe and cornbread, and have the main gathering a few days to a week after Thanksgiving so we can accommodate the other side of everyone’s family. Also, everyone brings at least one flavor of pie, including key lime and lemon meringue, which are the best pies regardless of season.

      Can’t make it this year because I’m eleventy thousand miles away, but I’ve arranged some quality time with friends, cats, and movies instead.

  11. So after it got disparaged in a recent letter, where are my Awkward Army pineapple casserole eaters? My boyfriend requests it every year. πŸ˜‚ It’s just one of those things you KNOW is horrible and shouldn’t be good but we like it. Same for green bean casserole with nothing but canned ingredients. I tried to make a fancy one from scratch last year and it WAS NOT THE SAME. Just gimme the garbage kind. πŸ˜›

    1. Is pineapple casserole the same as pineapple bread pudding? My mom makes the latter and it’s not pudding really, but has Hawaiian bread and pineapple chunks and I don’t know what else, but it’s delicious!

      1. I don’t think so, although that sounds good too (I love Hawaiian bread!). Pineapple casserole is basically nothing but pineapple, butter, and sugar topped with ritz crackers and cheddar cheese then baked. One of those things that sounds AWFUL but some of us weirdos do actually like it, ha.

        1. That’s fancy.

          My parents and I are having just plain old pineapple. We always fight over who gets to dunk the core in our iced tea and who gets left out.

      2. My mom actually makes pineapple matzo pudding for Passover. It’s pineapple bread pudding, but, you know, bread -> matzo. It’s really good! Excellent holiday food (if not Thanksgiving specifically).

    2. I’m not a pineapple fan, but I’m making mini pineapple upside down cakes for Fiance of Awesome’s family Thanksgivings. So…sort of pineapple fistbumps?

    3. Green bean casserole from scratch is just not as good. I don’t know why. It defies logic.

      That pineapple casserole sounds delicious! Maybe I will try it this year–my poor Best Boyfriend is going to be like WTF even is this huge dinner for just the two of us?!

      1. Aaarrrgghhh, the dreaded green bean casserole of my youth, every year. Lolz. Actually wasn’t that bad just we laughed a lot about it.

        Thanksgivings with everyone playing touch football before the feast, in the Autumn air with leaves crunching underfoot. A great uncle filming us all with those old images still on reels of film somewhere. Through the lens of memory it has become a bit Norman Rockwell.

        Missing it now, but time marches on.

        1. I always thought I hated it until a lengthy span of time when I was unable to eat Cream Of Soup aka Lutheran Binder without becoming violently ill. The first five years were fine and then I started developing a serious jones for it. Something has improved and I appear to be okay to eat Traditionally Midwest Casseroles again. Mmm. Green bean casserole.

    4. Sorry, that was me in the comments disparaging the casserole! Sorry, didn’t mean to diss your favorite — I know lots of folks like it and I’m glad you’re going to get it! Just not my jam. (Pineapple jam is totally my jam, though….)

      1. Haha, no worries! I know it’s an odd thing that not everyone loves. πŸ™‚

        Mmmmm, pineapple jam.

    5. I just tried to convince my dad (unsure of the level of success yet) to invite a former guest SO SHE CAN BRING GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE. (I also like her as a human being…. I swear!) And why “from scratch” isn’t better in this case I don’t know, but you’re so right.

  12. Hi. I’ve never actually posted on your site, but I have been subscribed to your feed now for a little while and really like it. As for me, I’m very excited for Thanksgiving. I’m going to my parents’ new house most likely in a couple days. They down-sized this summer, and are now living in a 2-flat. I’ve been there already and it’s a very nice place. I will most likely be there until Saturday or Sunday. The other exciting news is that the entire ground floor in my apartment complex is being renovated, and I think it’s almost ready for prime time. This building changed hands after the beginning of this year, and the new landlords have their own construction guys. They already did some needed repairs in my bathroom and I am happy with it. So as you can probably imagine, I’m thankful for my family. I’m also thankful for all the supportive friends I have, as well as a roof over my head..

  13. I’m noping out on flying home for christmas after an expensive cross-country move, but! Partner and a few friends and I are going in on a cabin rental in the mountains. Possibly with a hot tub. And I will get to try my hand at The Pie of my friend group, a savory apple-brie-and-roasted onion concoction that I hear is AMAZING.

    1. that sounds so f’ing delicious. I might have to make it. Like, tonight.

      ~drifts off into dreams of savory pie~

  14. I have only seen Pineapple Casserole (or “baked pineapple”) in small rural communities in pockets of the Deep South.

    Having grown up in Florida, yet being a voracious reader of cookbooks, especially local ones, I was very surprised. I must confess I have not yet screwed up the courage to sample some yet…

    1. It’s spread out a little from there. My family is deep south (Mississippi) but we all live in the urban/suburban parts of the state, not the rural ones.

  15. I made my Thanksgiving last week and have it portioned out and frozen ( some stuffin and turkey, some portions for sandwiches. Having the kitchen and utensils all to myself? Priceless.

    This year I poached the turkey breast again. It is super easy, quick, the meat stays moist, and freezes well. I made a large Casserole dish of stuffin. I have cauliflower to mash, and I’m set.

  16. I get to see my brother in two days for thanksgiving! For thanksgiving my family would usually host, and only invite people we actually wanted to come, but since my brother moved away we’ve gone to visit him and my aunt, who lives in the same city. My favorite thanksgiving food is leftovers.

    My favorite Christmas tradition is making bubble loaf and cookies with my mom- the bubble loaf was originally my dad’s grandma’s recipe, but it’s been modified over the years. For a long time it was the only thing we’d make with yeast so I associate the smell of yeast with the holidays.

    My favorite Christmas decoration is the light up Santa pig my dad bought for my mom a few years ago. It’s approximately 3 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 2 feet tall, and it’s just the best thing. It’s like those white wire reindeer that some people have in their yards, except the pig is pink, and wearing a santa hat and jacket. (It’s hard to explain. it’s the first image if you google christmas pig lawn ornament.)

    And decorating the tree, and going to the neighbor’s christmas eve, and having a holiday dinner with local relatives, and getting people awesome presents, and and and and…. πŸŽ„πŸŽŠπŸ’“

  17. I hosted US Thanksgiving (“US” because I’m in Canada) dinner for 18 on Saturday, and it was great!! I’ve been hosting every year since I moved here, for up to 33 (!) people. There’s something about getting a bunch of my friends together to share good food (SO MUCH yummy food!) and fun that I just love. We’re a super low-key group, so I bake up the turkey, stuffing, and pie and my guests bring all the sides, and we end up all cramming into my not-so-big living room with half the guests sitting on the floor. I had chairs set up in the office, but everyone wanted to sit together to socialize, and it’s a fun group that all like each other so there’s no tension or drama. I like it so much better than the much smaller (immediate family only) but high-pressure Thanksgiving dinners I grew up with. I’m hoping to start a similar tradition when I move to California next year!

      1. I make a Cook’s Illustrated green bean casserole recipe that is fairly similar to this (minus the bacon and cheese, although that looks damn tempting) that is straight up LIFE CHANGING. I hate canned green beans, so this is my JAM.

    1. 33 people!? I’m so impressed! Is it OK if I ask about logistics? Do you do multiple turkeys? Do people come in shifts or are they everywhere? It sounds like something really fun.

      1. Sure! That year I was living in an ~1200 sq ft apartment with a large common room (kitchen/living room) and an even larger family room with a pool table. I ended up renting a banquet table to hold all the food and borrowing chairs from friends and neighbors. I put a cover over the pool table, so about half the group that year sat in high chairs around the pool table and used it as a dining table. The rest of the group ate in the common room sitting on the regular furniture plus folding chairs and a few on the floor. Everyone eats at once.

        I baked two turkeys that year, one bacon-covered (so good that I’ve been cooking it this way since) and one regular, with two kinds of stuffing (cornbread and bread cubes). The next year I had ~20 people and baked a turkey and a duck. This year I just baked one large turkey: 25 lbs for 18 people, which was on the small side based on online recommendations of 1.5 lbs/person. But I still have over half the turkey left. With so many side dishes people don’t eat much turkey.

  18. One of my favorite Christmas things is the pretty look of a big pile of wrapped packages under the tree. But I’m not necessarily as keen on the consumerism of so many presents.

    My holiday tradition is to take the boxes that hold the Christmas lights and ornaments, and gift wrap the empty boxes, giving me the big pile of beautiful packages with less consumerism. It’s also a nifty way to not lose the boxes between putting up the tree and taking it down.

    1. haha nice! funnily enough we were having a conversation yesterday about family members pranking each other with empty wrapped presents, or big boxes with tiny presents in them. which would have much the same effect.

      I have four siblings and we normally each get everyone else one present and then everyone gets one extra from “Santa” (our parents) so even without the thing I’ve seen where parents buy their kids about five things each we usually have a good pile under the tree.

    2. I love that look! I have a mini tree this year because me and my husband just moved to Japan, so it’ll be super easy this time haha!

      I was planning on making a bunch of those mini 🎁 in different sizes and paper patterns to pile under it and putting little silly things in all of them. I love your idea of wrapping the deco boxes! I’ll definitely be stealing it in the future πŸ‘

  19. I’m doing Thai food for lunch on Thanksgiving day, with half a dozen friends, and then potluck dinner on Sunday with a further handful of friends. We’re all living overseas, so family isn’t an option. I’m trying to decide if I want to decorate my new house and make myself an advent calendar or whether Christmas will still feel festive if I skip out on the work.h

    1. And I ordered three pies from the local bakery. Partly because I don’t have a kitchen, mostly because they make amazing pies.

  20. My family will be doing more of a Christmas get-together, rather than Thanksgiving. (Most of us in Southern California, but a new baby is still adjusting to life out here in the world) My younger sister and I shopped at Trader Joes, so plan to eat yummy stuff and go to a movie. I also plan to go on Kiva/Red Cross, etc., and make some donations.

  21. My Thanksgiving should be fantastic! I recently moved to the opposite coast from 99% of my family and friends, and my fiance and I just don’t think it’s worth it to spend $2k on plane tickets for a 3.5-day trip home. So that’s a bummer, because we miss everyone. BUT. This also means that I don’t have to (a) attend three events in one day (which is exhausting for an introvert like me), (b) deal with my narcissistic mother, or (c) navigate the politics of my recently-but-not-happily divorced parents. Instead, my fiance and I are celebrating Friendsgiving with some dear friends who coincidentally now live about 40 minutes away from us. I’ll also stop in to have dessert with the very small amount of family I have on this coast, who doubly coincidentally live in the *exact same town* as our friends. I am making green bean casserole and mashed potatoes, and my fiance is making chicken porkolt (his family is Hungarian, so holidays always include various Hungarian dishes, and we’re not about to stop that delicious tradition). I am SO EXCITED.

    Christmas will be both more and less happy. More happy because I get to see my friends and family and finally meet my best friend’s youngest munchkin, who was born about a month after I moved away. Less happy because…well, family politics. But I’ll go post on the other thread about that. πŸ™‚

  22. I hesitated deciding which thread to put this in and decided on the positive one. I hope y’all agree. This is the time of year I swallow a slight smirk and pat myself on the back. 30 years ago I had a good hard think about what I like about holidays and what I don’t. I decided that I like baking, cooking, holiday greeting cards and phone calls with old friends. I decided that I don’t like those sing-songy carols, crowded retail, obligatory gifts, and glittery decorations. So I quietly stopped doing everything I didn’t like. I don’t participate in workplace gift exchanges. I don’t even give gifts to friends. If someone gives me a gift, I thank them and don’t get them anything in return– unless it’s a batch of home made cookies. I admire other people’s decorations but don’t put any of my own up. You’d think I’d become known for being a grinch, but instead people continue to think of me as generous because I give gifts when I think of them and they make sense– like the book a friend has been wanting to read or an invitation; I’m always good for a meal at my house, a comfortable place to sleep if you need it, something fun to do, picking up the check, etc. I start to hear complaints about how much there is to get done, how ungrateful family members are, how long the lines are, and this is where the smirk comes in. I listen with sympathy and give myself that pat on the back because I’m unrushed, not in debt, not unhappy.

    This is what I’m interested in trying this year for Thanksgiving:
    I still have some apples from the local orchard. Should be tasty.

    1. Yay you! I like how you think. It must be so much less stressful. My family is edging towards that, we’ve gone into ‘just the kids’ mode as far as gifts are concerned. (with the idea being that if you see something that someone HAS to have, feel free to buy and send it anytime, but no obligations) My husband’s family still goes all in with presents for everyone but it’s not my place to change them.

      1. Thanks.
        Another idea along the same lines: I love all the Thanksgiving side dishes: cornbread, cranberries, dressing, pecans, pies, etc. I do not see the point in the full Rockwell presentation of a whole turkey. That’s a lot of trouble and not something I enjoy. Solution: turkey pieces. Easy to defrost, easy to roast dark meat and light meat the right amount of time. Easy to give everyone what they want. There’s no dramatic carving, but the food is good.

        1. That sounds like a really good solution, I can see all sorts of benefits to doing the turkey that way. It also sounds like a really easy way to make sure that everyone gets the pieces they want. (3 people love having a whole turkey leg, but there’s only 2 legs! or 80% of guests like breast meat but 20% are sad if you only get a crown, etc etc)

          Honestly, I do a full turkey just because well, just because. It never occurred to me to split it up, and I’ve always found getting the sides done more stressful and more work (but very rewarding!) so the turkey is just… there. Delicious, but there. I’m going to think on this for next year. πŸ™‚

  23. We’re going to have an enormous Thanksgiving celebration at my aunt’s, at least forty people (large family), with tons of good food made from scratch! Mashed potatoes loaded with sour cream and butter, about five kinds of pie, many turkeys, dressing made with white bread and also cornbread dressing, homemade cranberry sauce. And Scrabble and marathon card games. Hooray! It’s going to be delicious. And my partner is coming to my family’s celebration for the first time.

  24. My brother and I are hosting my parents for Thanksgiving, which is a first. We both live in Boston and are from the midwest. We are doing oysters (a first) because it’s a very New England thing. We took a class on shucking oysters on Saturday with his girlfriend and I am confident between the two of us we can shuck 18 oysters. I am making homemade cocktail sauce and a cucumber Mignonette with lemon thyme flavored vinegar.

    He nor I have ever made a turkey so that is terrifying but we did a great job organizing the recipes and food ordering on google drive. My parents are flying in ON THANKSGIVING and are leaving Saturday. It will be the first time seeing my dad since we had a fight over my Christmas visit. There is a lot going on for me personally so I’m happy anxious etc.

  25. Every year on Thanksgiving my dad makes us all sit around the big living room TV and watch “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” for the 9,000th time and he always laughs the hardest / loudest and that’s even better than the movie (which I love too).

  26. I just realized that my family (who we drive 7 hours to visit every Thanksgving) is all on the same page and my husband and I are about the current refugee-vs-no refugee conservative-vs-liberal fight so we won’t have any political fights at Thanksgiving and we’ll just be able to concentrate on wine-drinking! There are a few stressy things every year, obviously, but this is going to be SO. NICE!

  27. I’m so so looking forward to the holidays; flying out to my in-laws for thanksgiving on Wednesday! It’s a bit of a pain to fly so far for such a short trip, but with money and health issues on their part, we basically would never get to see them otherwise, so it’s worth it. I’m really looking forward to this year, there’s nothing weird floating about in terms of the stuff we disagree about so it should be deeply chill.

    Also my MIL makes *the* most amazing pecan pie in the universe. And I think we’re going to try that from-scratch green bean casserole; i grew up without it and have tried the usual version and despise it, but the partner adores it, so we are trying to meet in the middle there. πŸ˜›

    I’m also even more excited about December 1st, which is the second year we actually have our own little holiday traditions (decorating the house, watching muppet christmas carol, trying to stop the cats from drinking the water out from under the tree…). It really feels like we are building our tiny family (two humans and two feline fuzzballs so far).

    On a maybe less generous note, now that I am adult and married, it is so much harder for my relatives that I see over christmas (whom I love dearly but are v. conservative and super into the gender roles) to ignore or dismiss my opinions and presence. So in true family tradition when we dive into a heated debate about politics (actually something my family does for fun, I know we’re insane) I can actually say my mind and not get totally mansplained or adultsplained away. Pretty rad to make my aunts and uncles actually have to consider feminism in some way or another. ^_^ Maybe a little meanspirited, but its nice having the power dynamic a little more balanced, especially with the tried and true awkwardeer tool of ‘return awkwardness to sender’ in my toolkit.

  28. Best Boyfriend and I are having Thanksgiving on Saturday because he has to work Thursday (the servers have to stay up or everything descends into chaos!) but he’s getting holiday pay. I’m going to make a duck (I am allergic to turkey) and do small dishes of all the usual sides (I hope they turn out small anyway, holiday dishes are one of those things that it’s hard for me to make small) and an apple pie, and I took Wednesday off for sleeping late, lazing around at home, and live-tweeting bad movies on Netflix. My roommate is going home for t-day so Boyfriend and I will have my apartment to ourselves for five days!

    For Christmas he’s doing a family thing but roommate’s parents will be out of the state so she and I will have Christmas together. πŸ™‚

  29. I’ve lived in Germany just short of 20 years and celebrated Thanksgiving here all but the first year. We celebrated two weeks ago with 21 family members and dear friends (our record was 29 people last year) and it was just fabulous, as always! At first due to necessity but gradually out of enthusiastic choice, I make everything from scratch, including the gravy and the sorbets, and I just get so much satisfaction out of it! The core menu has been refined over the years and stays basically the same, meaning I have lots of experience bringing it all together without stress. Last year, with so very many people, I added four new desserts for a total of eight (two pies, two kinds of sorbet for those who can’t eat dairy or gluten, three kinds of cookies, and pumpkin cheesecake mini muffins). This year, in a continuing bid to fill people up enough so that I had leftover mashed potatoes (no dice once more — my mashed potatoes are legendary), I put together four different appetizers which I sent out on small trays to circulate among the guests.

    It makes me so very happy to have the house filled with dear people who have made the effort to join us, in some cases driving a number of hours, for what isn’t even their original tradition. Thanksgiving is a major highlight of the year for me, and awesomely enough, my sweet Dad was able to join us fairly spontaneously for the second year in a row.

  30. I’m having a small Thanksgiving this year, and honestly most years. I’m American living in the UK so i have to make everything myself, but it’s only ever my mother and father-in law that come over, so I don’t have to make too much of it. Wellllllllllllllll I have to make enough to have leftovers, the first time I did this the leftovers were mismanaged and I’ve never heard the end of it.
    I’m looking forward to it because this is the first year that I think my daughter will have any sense of what’s going on. She likes to ‘help’ in the kitchen so I’m trying to prepare myself and figure out something for her to do (stir a bowl of vegetable peels?) that won’t make a mess.

  31. Anybody got a good recipe for chocolate cookies they would like to share? I’m thinking chocolate cookies with peppermint chips are a thing that I need to figure out this year.

      1. I have yet to meet a chocolate dessert that is NOT my thing, so if you want to share I’d be all ears. πŸ™‚

    1. http://www.barbarabakes.com/chocolate-peppermint-crunch-cookies/

      I haven’t tried these, but I know enough about baking to look at the recipe and think it should work. My first question when I saw your question was to ask how crunchy do you want the chips? If you want crunchy, there’s crushing hard peppermint candies into chips. If you want soft, I was going to recommend crushing Andes chocolate peppermint candies– Freeze first so crushing turns them into chips, not mush.

      1. You can actually buy Andes baking chips πŸ™‚

        And now I’m thinking that chocolate crackle cookies with bits of crushed up peppermint in them could be ridiculously good.

    2. β€œNaughty List” Chocolate Chili Shortbread

      Makes 32 small or 16 xxl. Recipe halves perfectly for 16 small/8 xxl, too.

      2 c all purpose flour
      Β½ c unsweetened cocoa powder
      1 tsp Indian mixed red chili powder (such as Swad, Laxmi, or Deep brand)
      1 tsp cinnamon
      ΒΌ tsp salt
      ΒΌ tsp vanilla
      2 sticks butter (room temp)
      2/3 c white sugar
      3.5 oz dark chocolate, shaved/chopped medium-fine (ie 1 Ghirardelli bar)

      Preheat the oven to 385*F

      Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

      Sift the flour, cocoa, chili, cinnamon, salt in a lidded container. Add the chocolate, close the container, and shake until combined.

      Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet 1/3 at a time. By the last 1/3, you’ll need to use your hands.

      Chill for 10 minutes.

      Divide into quarters, and divide each quarter into 8 pieces. (32 total; if halving the recipe, divide half and then divide each half into 8ths. )

      Roll each piece into a ball. (About the size of a small super bouncy ball.)

      Flatten each ball slightly (1/2 inch thick).

      Space 2” apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

      Drop the oven to 350*F just before you bake.

      Bake immediately for 10-12 minutes, OR:

      Don’t flatten the balls, chill for 1 hour, and bake for 15 minutes for a much rounder cookie.

      And for the love of all that’s good and holy wash your hands before you touch your eyes or change your contact lenses. (Update: or touch any other fun areas on yourself or your partner)

    3. I like the Cook’s Illustrated icebox cookies because they are make-ahead. You freeze the dough in a log and then have slice and bake cookies whenever you need them, which is so handy during the holidays. I often add a few drops of peppermint oil (King Arthur Flour sells it) to the dough and then roll the log in crushed candy canes on the outside before freezing. It’s not quite chocolate with mint chips, but it might work?

      Another variation I’ve done, with more work, is to make a plain version and then dip each one in a chocolate glaze that i’ve spiked with mint oil. Or make a chocolate ganache (with mint) and make sandwich cookies.

      My kid loves chocolate and mint, can you tell?

      Here’s a non-paywall version of the recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/the-best-chocolate-butter-cookies-403753

    4. These thumbprint cookies always work, although I replace the bakers’ chocolate mixture with Hershey’s kisses pressed into the cookies when they first come into the oven: http://www.marthastewart.com/333956/chocolate-thumbprints

      In a quest for The Most Chocolatey Chocolate, I remembered the Jim Dandies a great-aunt used to bring. I can’t vouch for the exact recipe at the link, but the blogger tested it and the results look authentically yummy. http://www.midcenturymenu.com/2011/12/my-top-5-vintage-christmas-cookie-recipes/

      1. Sorry for the double comment, but I meant “first come *out of* the oven.” This is an important difference.

  32. This seems like a good place to share my joy:

    I just finished Thanksgiving with my family and it was the Best One Yet.

    We do Thanksgiving early because my mom used to work as a Wal*Mart Associate and wasn’t allowed to take time off on the actual week, so we timeshifted it a week earlier… and realized that the transportation costs are cheaper, the stores aren’t danger zones, and everyone and everything is just a lot more relaxed because we’re outside my dad’s toxic paradigm of The Way Things Must Be According To Normal Rockwell And Rush Limbaugh. Christmas is still a mess, but we have Thanksgiving down COLD.

    This year was particularly awesome because my brother’s Very Serious Lady Friend has successfully negotiated the β€œWait… You Really Like Me? You Don’t Want Me to Jump Through Hoops? Is It Okay For Me To Just Fit In?” year-long awkward patch (Answer: Yes, We All Do. Getting My Brother to Commit WAS The Hoop. You Were One Of Us As Soon As You Stepped Off The Plane The First Time.) and is now comfortable and happily contributing to our family traditions. Mostly with her delicious cooking and glee at joining us in our highly competitive and vicious game nights and by just generally being a perfect fit for our weird little family.

    My parents generally have more bad than good, but credit where credit is due: I had a couple pre-emptive Talks with them and they’ve been great with her from the get go. They welcomed her with open arms, they didn’t put up a fuss about “OMG you cohabitating unmarried persons want to sleep in the same ROOM??”, and they’ve made a serious effort to include her in every family thing from vacations to the weird email and text forwards that my dad sends out to everyone that we all politely ignore. They’re also never, ever going to mention anything related to marriage or children until bro and Lady Friend show up with rings or a baby bump.

    So: Thanksgiving was fab and I’m plotting to see if we can make Christmas just as good.

  33. We usually go away for Thanksgiving, either to spouse’s family or up to a cabin (which I love.) But this year, I am really excited about just staying at home and cooking a meal for me, spouse and the kids. I am going to give my amazing roasting pan a workout. I am dusting off the family recipes and making the entire damn thing from scratch. I am pulling out the measuring cups and the basters and the bowls and the carving board and the nice plates. I am setting the table with the fancy napkins, and I am going to go Full Williams Sonoma whilst in my pajamas with a glass of sweaty cool Chardonnay in my hand and the foozball on in the other room.

    It’s going to be awesome.

  34. SO EXCITED about Thanksgiving. I frequently do a couple of stuffed acorn squashes as the Main Event, but I’m really burned out this fall, just sort of generally, so my mom and I decided that we’re just going to have lots of Side Events instead: turnips, maple-glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, cranberry sauce, white wine, green olives, and a pumpkin pie. I’m very much looking forward to it. And we plan to break out the real silver and good china and fancy tablecloth, and eat in the dining room in our particularly CLASSY pyjamas and fluffy socks and bathrobes, and then after dinner take the pie to the den and watch Christmas movies, and really, Thursday cannot come soon enough.

    Hope everyone has a stress-free-as-possible run-up to Cooking Day!

  35. I just made my first batch of marmalade of the season, and I’m pretty pleased with it! I like it tart, so my basic approach is:

    Chop citrus fruit and peel into small pieces. (I go for 1/4-inch dice, mostly. Really what matters is that they’re about the same size.) Save the seeds! Fruit / rind pieces go in one bowl. Seeds go in another.

    Cover the fruit with water. Put a lid on it if you like. (I have fruit flies right now, so I like.) Cover seeds with water, and ditto. Let sit for about a day.

    Transfer the fruit and its soaking liquid to a pot. Cook it until the peel is starting to feel flexible– about 20-20 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool a bit, then weigh the fruit alone, reserving the soaking liquid, to see how much you have. Move it back to the pot. If you like your marmalade sweet, add a weight of sugar equal to that of the fruit. I start with 3 parts fruit to 2 parts sugar by weight, then sweeten more if need be. I like it tart and have been known to add citric acid or lemon juice if need be, if I’ve overdone the sugar. If it’s drying out, or I want to buy myself more time, I add some of the soaking liquid (but note that it will add bitterness, having picked up flavor from the pith).

    Bring to a boil, then drop to a simmer. Put the seeds in a cheesecloth bag and toss them in. Also add the liquid they were soaking in, which will now be somewhat jelly-like.

    Cook until thickened– a drip dropped on a chilled plate should “pull” a little bit when you tilt the plate. Transfer to sterilized jars. Let cool. I refrigerate any jars that don’t seal.

    Any soaking liquid I have left, I sweeten to taste and drink– it is loaded with pectin and feels amazing on the sore throat I always seem to have in November and December.

  36. We lucked out this year with a zero-travel holiday season. My family and my inlaws are all going to their respective other sides of the family for Thanksgiving, and everyone’s coming to our hometown for Christmas. That removes my #1 stress-hate, right there.
    My #2 stress, which is over-committing to crafty presents, I have already circumvented by announcing my “gift theme” this year is books. So all the shopping will be browsing books on Amazon.

  37. I’m spending Thanksgiving (along with my husband) with my mom and some family friends. This woman was in my mom’s wedding, so she has known me all my life, and we have wonderful history and inside jokes. We hadn’t seen her and her husband in several years (mostly from weirdness between her and my mother, thankfully that is resolved) and we spent Easter with them AND IT WAS A BLAST.

    So we’re headed up to Los Angeles Wednesday night, hoping to beat the horrible Thanksgiving morning traffic. I booked a room for the night, we’ll meander around Thursday morning before heading over to the festivities. And then we will zip back down that night and spend the rest of the holiday weekend puttering around at home.

    Christmas will be spent this year at my in-laws. It does involve some air travel, but we thankfully don’t have to worry much about weather or big hub airports. I hit the absolute jackpot with my in-laws (I especially realize this by reading some other recent threads around here) so we should have a very pleasant trip, and we’ll get to see the southern New Mexico style Christmas decorations, which I always love. Some years it takes me a really long time to get into the Christmas spirit, but I kind of feel like this year will be a little different. I already have Christmas cards, we have tickets to a Christmas concert, and I think I might drag out some Christmas lights this weekend! It’s been a few years since I’ve done that.

  38. This Thanksgiving, I’m ditching my family to stay home with my cat and play video games, and to meet up with a friend or two for a few low-stress hours of Social.

    1. Oh, AND I’m bringing the vegan main dish to my worksgiving potluck tomorrow and I’m VERY EXCITED to show off my cooking skills and provide people with food they can actually EAT when we’re often a meat-meat-meat kind of office. (Also: one of my bosspeople is smoking a turkey. AW YISS, cross one off the foodie bucket list)

      1. For about half a second there I had this mental image of a bossperson actually, like, smoking a turkey like a cigarette.

  39. For the first time in 42 years, I will be hosting Thanksgiving! I will be cooking food that is good! There will be no rope-dry turkey or cheese-pineapple casserole! I won’t be driving for NINE HOURS. This is literally the first Thanksgiving where I won’t be in a car for a large chunk of the week. I am so excited that I’m over using exclamation points! (Also, my therapist thinks it’s a great thing because I put up a difficult boundary with my mom (over and over and over again), so gold therapy stars for me!)

  40. I have seriously the best mother-in-law ever. She loves to cook and loves to hostess and there is a huge raucus family event with lots of people, family by marriage, by blood, and by choice are all welcome. We have some good friends coming too.) My only complaint is that 1. I don’t get any leftover turkey because there are so many people and she does an open house with soup the next day. 2. She makes a delicious savory bread pudding but I miss our delicious traditional cornbread stuffing. I have solved both of these by buying a turkey when it is on sale, storing it and then having a friendsgiving at some other time of the year. (This year it was in August. Turkey was remarkably not freezer burnt. Was delicious.)

    I will be making devilled eggs and cornbread cranberry muffins to make up for the fact that there is no cornbread stuffing.

  41. I’m very pregnant right now and due the day after Christmas (my first thought when I found out the due date was ‘oh shit’ but now I’m into it) so we’re happily not going anywhere. Our families are flying out in early January, which means:
    1) waaaaaaaay cheap flights, which leaves more $ for
    2) staying down the street at a sweet Air BnB instead of being woken up by baby in our tight-quarters house

    Everybody wins!

    1. Sometime I think last year one of the papers here published a chart of how common each day was as a birthday ranked from 1 to 365 (not counting Feb 29). Christmas was dead last. I suspect some people deliberately get induced shortly before if it looks like they might go into labour on Christmas.

      And yay, baby!

    2. Hooray for jingle-bell babies! Our Small is due the week before yours, so while I’m sad about not going back home for Christmas, I’m super excited about settling down with some pie, watching Die Hard, and hanging ornaments while waiting for her to arrive. The whole family can come visit once she gets a little bigger and more interesting, so it will be just us three together for Christmas.

      Also, I love the holidays for the baking. MiL brought me spices back from her last trip, so I have lots of ginger and allspice to cook with. The house is going to smell fantastic!

        1. My BF and I are planning on hosting a small “decorate gingerbread and then watch Die Hard” party sometime during December. We did a pumpkin carving/Hocus Pocus watching party in October that was lots of fun, and we want to replicate it. πŸ™‚

  42. I have a really wonderful friend who invites my pies to Thanksgiving, and lets me drive them over and stay for dinner (standing joke — I’ve been having Thanksgiving at her house for almost two decades now).

    And on Christmas, by choice, if the weather cooperates, I make the two-hour drive over to the coast and spend the day on the beach, watching the waves crash and having a Christmas dinner picnic in my car. My friend understands about how going to someone else’s house for Christmas is not my thing, and we always make an occasion a week or so before out of going to something (the Seattle Men’s Chorus this year) and out to dinner and exchanging presents.

    Given what my holidays used to be like, being able to say this makes me so very, very happy.

  43. I am very looking forward to Thanksgiving! It’s just going to be me and my SO this year (I offered to work the week surrounding T-day so I could take a week off around Christmas). We’re going to have waaay to much food, and I’m going to experiment and make pecan pie. And this is the first year I get to spend all of Christmas with my SO instead of splitting up.

    It’s not quite holiday related, but I’m flying home for a weekend in December to surprise my grandma and mom for my grandma’s birthday party and I am so so excited. It’s a huge party, which is not really my thing, but I’ve been my mom’s kitchen support since I was very tiny and it doesn’t feel right to have her host a big event without me.

  44. No Thanksgiving in New Zealand, but I recently booked my flights home for Christmas. Third one since I moved cities and I seem to have started a tradition of giving homemade lollies of some kind as presents (big family, limited luggage space!). First year was filled chocolates, second was fruit gummies, I think I’ll do fudge this time. I have a very solid Russian fudge recipe but I’ll probably try something a little festive even though I do love the simplicity of Russian. My parents and sisters have all come through my city in the last few months but haven’t seen my brothers since last year.

    Also my favourite thing about traveling – the best place to get doughnuts in my city is the airport. I think on the way down I’m going to get a box of standard cinnamon ones to share with the family and some fancy ones just for me… I even made sure to book my flights earlier in the day after the year I landed back here around 5pm and they only had a couple of choices left. πŸ™‚

    1. When I realized we have Dunkin Donuts in New Zealand it was a “Yes!” air fist pump moment, a bit of old New England in my new home.

      When flying back the most requested item from family is Chocolate Fish! They just don’t have chocolate fish there and it’s become the Must Bring item for the crew when making the annual visit. That and any jewelry item made with paua shell, so pretty.

      1. Chocolate fish are almost as good as pineapple lumps. I still miss Tip Top’s pineapple lumps ice cream. It’s sort of funny that a lot of Kiwis would say we don’t really have any really Kiwi food but I would definitely miss a lot of things if I went overseas.

  45. Long-distance trips take a lot of extra planning for me because Circumstances, and Circumstances get even more gnarly over the holidays. Fortunately, I’m not all that into Thanksgiving, and my (Jewish) family doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I try to get away to see them when the airports are less crowded.

    But I’m posting to the Yay Holidays thread because this year, dammit, I want to take at least one Thanksgivingish day off (probably the Friday after) and Christmas off. Maybe see a movie during the day or visit a bookstore or something. As a freelancer I don’t usually give myself “vacation days” unless I really am going out of town, so it will be a treat as long as I stick to my plan.

  46. We’re doing a small Thanksgiving dinner this year, just me, Mr. Hedgehog, and the two Hedgehoglets. In previous years we’ve had Thanksgiving dinner with a work colleague of Mr. Hedgehog’s who hosts very big, semi-potluck Thanksgivings, but we’ve moved to a new place now so we’ll be doing things a new way. I hope to make it a really pleasant day, festive without a lot of stress. I’m really looking forward to it. πŸ™‚

  47. I’m bracing for a crazy day on Wednesday (I work in a grocery store bakery… we are presently in the midst of The Great Pie and Dinner Roll Extravaganza of 2015), but I’m also really excited because I ended up with four days off this week. I spent this evening mixing up dough for pretzels, rolls, and my very own made-from-scratch gingerbread house that I haven’t had the energy to do the last couple of years and have really missed. πŸ™‚ I think I’m going to go pick up the candy on Friday, when grocery stores will be the only non-crazy places of business in all the land. And then I can start decorating my bedroom, too…

    1. Ah, I remember the year I worked in a grocery store bakery over Christmas. Fun times. *haunted look*

  48. Thanksgiving is, for me, *ridiculously* intertwined with my relationship– my partner and I met at an orphan Thanksgiving put on by friends (for people who “have no place to go or don’t want to go there”) six years ago but didn’t realize we were attracted to each other (just spent hours nestled in a corner talking and were the last to leave because we didn’t want to stop), kept a haphazard email contact for a few months but lost touch, and then got as far as individually admitting attraction to ourselves (but not each other) at Thanksgiving the next year before my abusive-boyfriend-of-the-time demanded I never talk to current partner again and not even explain why I cut contact because how *dare* I be attracted to someone else (while we were in a *poly* relationship, mind). So current partner and I both spent the next four years never really forgetting each other, and then fell back into each other’s lives when I left the abusive guy, eventually got as far as admitting to each other that we’d never forgotten each other, and started actually dating last Thanksgiving.

    So we’re counting Thanksgiving as our real anniversary, and we’ll be celebrating our first anniversary back at the same Thanksgiving celebration where we first met. And I’m probably going to post a ridiculously sappy Facebook status because it is Thanksgiving and I have the best partner ever and I’m hopelessly in love. And given all the near misses we’ve had and the way we were both convinced the other one couldn’t possibly like us like that, I’m also a little astonished that we actually managed to start dating at all. (Thanksgiving magic?)

    I’m also going another round with the corn-syrup-free pecan pie, because of corn allergies. I have removed all corn, dairy, and gluten; the next project is trying to substitute the eggs so it’s as hypoallergenic as something with nuts in it an be.

  49. My husband and I live in Korea, so we’re attending a potluck Friendsgiving on Saturday–should be nice. But!! I am a HUGE Christmas person, and my baby has just turned one, which means that, while he may not understand about Santa and reindeer and Krampus just yet, he can still get excited about sparkly lights and decorations and presents and good food.

    The whole month is going to be great. We’re going to celebrate spooky Krampusnacht (Dec. 5), decorate the apartment on Saint Nicholas’s day (Dec. 6), hang up a “Santa’s Magic Key” outside the door (to explain how Santa gets in despite the lack of chimney), write letters to Santa, leave out milk and cookies and carrots for the reindeer on Christmas Eve, open presents at some absurdly early hour on Christmas, and celebrate with our friends that afternoon. So excited!!

    And the best part is, my husband and I get the whole week of Christmas off, something that hasn’t happened the last two years. No teaching, and no freelancing. Just sleep and shinies and fun.

    …thank you for letting me squee.

  50. I don’t know if this is appropriate for the Ugh, Holidays thread, so I’m only posting it here just in case.

    Every December, Michael’s has done sales on these art sets to bring them under $3 each. (I see they’re currently at $3 USD each, which is still pretty good!) These sales usually only last one day or so, but there’s frequently more than one, and I’ve seen the art sets go down to $2 each.

    Now, a good 24 of the “100 pieces” are actually the individual pages in the dinky little included paper pads (insert eyeroll here), but that’s still a really good price for what’s an effectively gender neutral toy that’s also appropriate for a whole range of ages. Even if you throw in a cheap pad of paper, it’ll probably stay under five bucks. The past couple of years, I’ve gone to Michael’s and bought up a whole bunch of the art sets to donate to charity (mostly through a local food bank that also does birthday bags and such), but they’d also be good for young nieblings and cousins and other relatives/friends’ offspring/your own kids/etc. I love art, and I’ve always found it empowering, so I thought I’d pass the idea and general sale notice along to other people. Anyway, hope this helps some folks/generates some ideas!

  51. I don’t have to cook! ZOMG! I mean, we’re just going to Marie Callender’s (where we will also tip HUGELY), but since one of the big things about Harvest Feast Meal for me is the pie for breakfast for the rest of the week, this is great!

    And then Christmas, this year was the first year I was brave enough to specifically request fandom merch for Christmas presents. I’m a little nervous, because Christmas also involves my really unpleasant exes and they’re likely to say something nasty, but I’ve been practicing three things: the withering icy stare, the incredulous wooooow, and wide-eyed innocent sarcasm. That’s actually been pretty fun. I mean, I felt like a jackass the first few times I did that first one in the mirror, but my best friend keeps sending me gifs of Charlize Theron as the evil queen in some movie or other, and it’s pretty inspiring.

    So here’s to all of that. Not cooking, getting the courage to ask for what I really want, and developing the skills to stand up for myself when people are rude. Happy Holidays to all of you!

  52. Don’t wanna cross the streams, so I’ll focus on the good part: I’ll be spending Xmas & NYD with my new love on MAUI!!! No overtly Xmasy things, as she doesn’t celebrate. So basically we’re gonna spend the actual day at the beach & then go out to a nice dinner.
    Plus I got tickets to the 2-evening BBC Sherlock event! I’m just kinda upset cuz it would be a fun thing to try to do period dress, but it’s not going to be the right temperature.

    I have not yet parsed how I feel about my plans for Thanxgrieving.

    Happy ChrisKwanzUkkahStice for those who celebrate & for those who don’t, a happy stress-free month surrounded by those who love & appreciate you.

    1. WOW! I’ve always wanted to do a warm weather Christmas, just to see what it’s like. You’ll have to report back to us. πŸ™‚ AND you have tickets to the BBC Sherlock event? I hope you have a great time this year.

  53. I am going stag to a community potlatch this year, as last year’s was delightful and I met some nice people. But. I am buying a duck to cook for myself, as in, all the dark meat belongs to meeee.
    I haven’t cooked one in decades and all I remember was that I needed a super-deep drippings pan and even then it got hard-to-handle full-tricksy Baggins to get out of the oven… Also, I am curious if I can start a soup stock from that, as one can with turkey or chicken?
    Happy Feasting, Awkwardeers! πŸ—πŸ°πŸ΄

    1. Hi Myrtle, I’m allergic to chicken and turkey so I always make duck. Yes, you can totally start stock from your duck carcase. I do it every time I make a duck. πŸ™‚

      I use a standard roasting pan with a little rack in it. It doesn’t have to be that deep–mine is maybe 3.5 inches deep.

  54. I’m going back to my family this year. Last christmas ended with me getting in a huge fight with my aunt for misgendering me which got so bad that I left on the next day and hid at my boyfriend’s place. (Among other little things, like someone giving me presents with the wrong name on them and me not figuring out that it was my dad until one day later…)

    I hope this year will be better. That’s why I’m here and not in the rant thread. Even my father uses my correct pronouns and name by now, so I’ve got reason to hope!

  55. Also want to share a Real Thing: over a decade ago, I was work-friends with a girl who had an 8-year old son. I had some extra money and no children, while her money was tight, so I went to a toy store and bought him a bike. I also bought a pretend mini-state license plate embossed with his name, cool dice tire caps for the wheels.. it was sharp. Then, as an afterthought, I made an oversize card for him from construction paper and glitter, and I wrote that the bike was because he’d been so good and kind and his Mom loved him so mych, and I signed the card, “Santa.” Then I balanced everything and took it Christmas Eve to my friend’s house, who I also suprised, and I got the very best teary hug from her. But, wouldn’t you know, what the kid was proudest of, and showed to everyone?

    That card he got from Santa.

    I hope he still believes, wherever he is. πŸŒ²πŸ’–

  56. As far my family’s traditions go, I find myself increasingly becoming a fan of Thanksgiving as I get older. The side dishes are easy to make and tasty, and my brother (who does not like turkey very much) has done a beautiful prime rib roast for the past five years or so. I haven’t quite mastered my grandmother’s roll recipe (in terms of “as tasty as hers are”), but last year was close.

  57. Maybe this is weird after my rant in the other thread but I just really wanted to say: I love turkey.

    I like cooking turkey and stuffing turkey and eating turkey, and I like that the holidays give me an excuse to make so much turkey. It’s just fun to make this enormous meal (and not have to do the dishes because the sight of my hand wiggling around in the turkey made husband go green and flee and not help at all.)

    I also like non-family Christmas parties. I get to dress up fancy like, drink too much wine and dance.

    1. I bought a party dress this fall (it was on scandalous sale, I couldn’t NOT buy it) and I’m hoping that I will have occasion to wear it. Best Boyfriend and I are planning on getting reservations somewhere for an early NYE dinner (it’s our first anniversary!), so maybe then.

  58. I’m going on my first-ever cruise the week after Christmas! It’s a whole-family deal, 12 of us spread between four staterooms, down in the Caribbean. I can’t wait!

  59. I’m so excited for parts of my Thanksgiving — two of the four children will be with me, rather than with Vader ex, I’m in charge of making things I looooove to make, so it’s cornbread stuffing with pine nuts and raisins, five (maybe six, if I lose my mind) kinds of pie, pie, PIE, PIE!!, sweet potatoes mashed, and roasted Brussels sprouts. I get to see my sister, her family, her partner, her ex and his new family, my partner, their friends, etc. I’m so very very excited. I love food, I love these folks, and I’m just looking forward to it and ignoring everything that’s dark and troubling. Also, BONUS! My apartment didn’t burn down last night but someone else’s unfortunately in the building did. I don’t think I could have handled it on top of everything else.

  60. I am looking forward to this Thanksgiving quite a bit. My Missing Stair sister is spending it with her boyfriend, and my husband is officially and legally my husband now. My husband also has food allergies, so it’s so much easier to just do all the cooking ourselves because we know what a pain it is to check each. and. every. ingredient and we never want the worry hanging over us of someone else going “Of COURSE I checked that the bread for the stuffing was safe.” and too embarrassed to admit that they didn’t because who would put paprika in bread? (answer: lots of companies)

    The rest of the family is chill with this, so without her I am anticipating smooth sailing and a fun, relaxed, enjoyable Thanksgiving! And since Dec. is my Busy Season, the Christmas tree went up this week so I can concentrate on work without feeling resentful that I don’t have time to do anything Christmassy for myself. Fingers crossed that I haven’t jinxed myself, but I’m looking forward to this.

  61. Me, my boo and our good friend just moved into a beautiful house in Seattle that feels like it’s in the woods but is still near a light rail stop. We’re throwing Friendsgiving, and I am excited about having pernil and pie and Empire watching and a fire. (We have a fireplace!) And hot tub soaking. (We have a hot tub!) No toxic bio fam allowerd! I grew up and have a happy new one! It will be mostly other queer and trans people of color, including a friend having a rough time, and it feels super good to have our house used this way.

  62. I’m so very grateful that I live far, far away from my dysfunctional FOO and that I married into a functional family. I’ve been looking forward to the Holidays beginning since autumn turned dingy. My in-laws arrange everything so that nobody is knocking themselves out doing it all and nobody is sitting around with nothing to do, everybody gets to join in the fun they want and nobody has to join in the fun they don’t, and if you need to fall asleep on their couch because Thanksgiving week kicked your butt you’ll be perfectly safe. Nobody goes off in a corner to talk smack about other people at the party. Nobody uses their food needs or choices to heap guilt on anybody else. Nobody is the family failure to whom others feel free to condescend. Nobody is the family embarrassment. Nobody gets to rule the afternoon with their temper. And we all go home with enough leftovers that I won’t have to cook for a couple of days! Pie for breakfast, wooooo!

    1. We just spent the day with my sister’s in-laws and it was just like that. My daughter kept exclaiming about how there was no drama and how nice that was. (Her mother is made of drama; we haven’t seen her in five years, but scars remain.) She also fell asleep on the couch because she’s an overwhelmed college student. Both ham and turkey, and apple, cherry, pumpkin, and pecan pies. Yay.

      1. Ha ha! The grad student in our family conked out in the living room too.

        Came home with some of my SIL’s fabulous highbush cranberry (=sarviceberry) relish to mix into yogurt and some of my BIL’s awesome brown sugar ham.

  63. Are awesome songs a go here? Because “American Noel” is my Social Justice Christmas Jam right now.

  64. I complained a bunch in the other thread, so I might as well say here that I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving. I’m going to my partner’s family for the second time, and they’re pretty nice people. This year there will be some additional cousins whom I haven’t met yet, two of whom are going to be flower kids in our wedding next year (although we’ve been given strict instructions not to tell them yet because they will never stop talking about it for the next seven months). Also, last year I discovered that they have cranberry sauce in a can for Thanksgiving, which is unacceptable, so in addition to my usual pumpkin pie and the vegetarian entree for myself (stuffed mushrooms), I will be making my aunt’s cranberry sauce recipe. It’ll be a nice little taste of my own family’s Thanksgiving, which I’ve always loved.

    I also really like Chanukah, despite my grumbling about Christian hegemony in the other thread. It’s just so nice to have that moment of peace around the candles every night, especially at what tends to be a stressful (not to mention literally dark) time of year. And this year I won’t be living with roommates who are cavalier about fire safety, so I won’t need to worry that someone’s Chanukah candles will burn the house down. (Seriously, last year they WENT OUT AND LEFT A MENORAH BURNING UNATTENDED. Gah.) Now I’m living with my partner, who is quite safety-conscious and also aware of my anxieties about fire. So that’ll be one less source of stress during my Chanukah this year.

  65. I’m doing ok this year, with the dark and the cold, and with my family. Not sure what changed. Maybe I finally got enough therapy? Anyway, all the holiday stuff seems reasonable and ok this year. Half of my parents are going out of state to see other family, so my brother and I were gently uninvited from the local gathering that will now be just our step siblings in-laws. And really, it was fine. They will get a smaller, just us and the older relatives holiday, we have one less obligation and don’t have to drive, especially in what looks like it will be bad weather. We’ll see the step sister we like at a holiday concert in a few weeks and get to visit at the meal before. I’ll get more time alone at home, which I’m looking forward to. I’ll still get turkey for my cats (I’m vegetarian).

    I might drop by a friend’s open Thanksgiving, maybe just for pie at the end, depending. For the other half of the family, we’ll get together Friday. My brother requested that I make spicy potatoes, which was nice, because I didn’t think he especially noticed them. I did get a text asking if I would be offended by people putting gravy on the potatoes, but I think that was driven by my mother, whom he lives with, and her anxiety. And, no, I don’t care what people put on their potatoes, as long as they don’t waste them. Put maple syrup or cream cheese on them if that’s what makes them tastiest.

  66. I can not wait to get out of work today and get to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving. I adore Thanksgiving and Christmas and I’m just so excited. And this year I don’t have to worry about whether the ex is having a good enough time and I’m not super sad from the break up anymore so this will be the first time in YEARS that I can just be HAPPY HOLIDAYS and really mean it. Yes, I still have stress, but it’s different stress and it’s just my stress.

    And have I mentioned the food yet? Because oh my goodness the food! I can’t WAIT to eat all the food. I’m so so so excited. So excited.

  67. This is the spouse’s first year as a pastor, so of course members of the congregation invited the family for Thanksgiving. He asked me and the kidlet what we thought, and we said we’d rather have the holiday just as a family, and he said, “Oh, thank God. I really didn’t want to be working on Thanksgiving.”

  68. I’m going to indulge on Christmas with my favorite traditions: Put a ham in the slow cooker, take a nap, then go to the movies, come back and unwrap the presents the furbabies “bought” for mommy.

    Ham small enough for the cooker? Fun hunt!

    Star Wars!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Most hams are precooked and just need slow reheating and glazing. I pick my glaze, pop the ham in the slow cooker, have a nap, go to the theater, come home and eat and then nap until the Doctor Who Christmas episode. The trick is finding a ham with a bone small enough to fit the cooker. I like to reuse the bone for ham stock for New Years foods.

  69. For some reason I’ve always experienced more variability in plans for Thanksgiving than for Christmas. Sure, I’ve had the big family things, but the ones I especially remember are the odd ones:

    – All my siblings were visiting their in-laws, so Mom and I went to Steak and Ale.
    – I couldn’t afford to travel home one year during grad school, and ended up with the other orphans at my housemates’ parents’ home; their mother was a caterer and the food was amazing.
    – My daughter and I hosted a group of her friends at our house the year that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlapped; we had a wonderful cranberry brisket.
    – Released from the hospital after an emergency operation on Wednesday evening; Mom’s neighbors made up a couple of plates for us so we didn’t have to go anywhere.
    – Girlfriend and I did a just-for-us dinner; the turkey claimed to be direct-from-freezer-to-oven but was a disaster.
    – My Mom and my aunt, both recently divorced from brothers, hosted a big pot-luck Thanksgiving; a bunch of random interesting people and five different kinds of sweet potatoes.

    This year will be relatively conventional: daughter and I will eat with my sister and her in-laws. Looking forward to it.

  70. i had an amazing argument with one of my aunts over virtue ethics in harry potter, our mental health pills regimen, and how much was too much to pay for chocolate ice cream

    i also didn’t have to eat thanksgiving dinner with my gf’s family. i stopped by to drop her off and receive hugs and a rice krispie treat from her little sisters.

    it was a good day.

  71. My son is one and a half now, so it will be the first christmas he is really interested in. It will be so much fun! He really loves candles at the moment, at least he loves blowing them out. And as we will have a christmas tree with real candles which is going to be ceremoniously revealed at christmas eve, with glowing candles, gifts and in all glory, it will really be a magic moment. My father is a little concerned about fire safety, but my parents have been handlimg the same thing when we were little, so we all have experience and pay attention. We will be six adults and three small children, so for each child we have someone to hold back the excited toddler and one to whatch out for dangerous surroundings. πŸ™‚

  72. I’m thrilled to be aging REAL EGGNOG in the fridge, right now, to drink over Christmas! The recipe called for rum, bourbon and cognac. I used rum, Everclear, and 100-proof Southern Comfort, because that’s what I had, and drinking the leftovers that wouldn’t fit in the jar made me veeeeery happy.

    In previous years I’ve experimented with various other non-standard foods at Christmas, including mincemeat pie made with real months-aged mincemeat.

    I _thought about_ getting one of those amazing Gin Advent Calendars, but decided to save my money this year. Maybe next year? πŸ™‚

    Plus, I’m taking a “mental health day” from work soon to spend the day at a Victorian-inspired Christmas fair. There will be crafts, carols, and seasonal goodies. It’s the sort of thing my mom really would have loved, and although I can’t replace her, I am going with one of the dearest people in my life. And I’m so excited it’s the holiday season again!

Comments are closed.