Many people feel pressured into jumping into the holidays headfirst...
Christmas ads and store promos start the minute Halloween is over, and they continue until New Year's Day. Some of us tend to feel sorta like this poor little treed cat...stuck in the Christmas rush and unable to get back out. But I tend to ignore the invitations to shop 'til I drop, and get into the spirit of the season.
The WalMart I shop at had its Tree and Ornament department up and running in mid-October. I went in yesterday and found a sparse Thanksgiving aisle next to the 80% off Halloween aisle. Since I don't "do" Halloween (having no small kids to buy for) I picked up a couple of nice things from the Thanksgiving display, and continued my shopping.
Once my kids were old enough to understand that Christmas was a commemoration of Jesus' birth instead of Santa's run around the world, I became quite eclectic in my holiday traditions. I have friends who celebrate year-end holidays in different ways, and I simply adjusted my holiday decor to include the wonderful myriad of traditions I saw when I visited their homes.
Even Thanksgiving changed for me, since I tossed out many of the traditional concepts of Thanksgiving and exchanged them for more realistic stuff. I grew up around Native Americans, and listened to their stories and legends. My 4th grade teacher was a beautiful lady whose lineage included Onandaga and Seneca. She read us wonderful stories about Native American mythology and real NA people like Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull and Chief Joseph.
She also talked about the "first Thanksgiving", and how the "story" has evolved over the centuries. A day of thanksgiving was common in the colonies, and often was to give thanks for a good harvest or for winning battles. The particular thanksgiving that is interlaced into our legends and stories appears to be the specific one in Plymouth Colony in 1621. It stood out from the others because it was a "shared" feast.
The Plymouth colonists had just enjoyed their first successful harvest in the new world. They had harvested the crops they had planted. As they prepared a feast to give thanks for their good crops, they received an unexpected visit from the the great Sachem Massasoit. Massasoit had walked for two days with his wife and 90 of his warriors to visit the colonists and the tribe provided wild turkey, squash and bushels of corn. The Wampanoag hunted so that the colonists had enough wild game for their feast, so the colonists decided to invite them to share the feast.
My grandkids were told the story a bit differently. Namely, the starving Indians needed help so the magnanimous colonists gave them food.
No matter how it came about, it would not have been such a great harvest had the colonists not learned how to fertilize their crops and plant different vegetables from the thankfully friendly tribes they found in their new homes.
When I was a kid, we always had a huge turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, celery sticks filled with soft cheese or peanut butter, all kinds of veggies, fruit salads, green salads, and then pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream. And everyone ate waaay too much. The turkey coma kicked in, and everyone just sat around gabbing for a couple of hours, then went back to the table and ate some more.
The food was ready at about 2:00 in the afternoon, and sat out on the table for the rest of the day. I know that I got pretty sick after the third time to the table...because no one seemed to understand that leaving warm food out for that length of time often gave kids or old folks food poisoning.
So, after I grew up and had my own thanksgiving dinners, I changed the status quo...dinner was set on the table at the normal dinner time, we ate, and then I would immediately start to pack the warm food into baggies or Tupperware or old cottage cheese containers and put it away in the fridge. If anyone wanted more, they had to get it out and eat it cold, or heat it up again. There has not been a single case of food poisoning in my house since I started doing that.
Also, I changed the whole ball game when I decided to make homemade Tex-mex enchiladas for Thanksgiving one year. It was great! We ate everything...no leftovers.
So what are your Thanksgiving traditions? Your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Tell me what your favorite menu is for Thanksgiving...and what holiday traditions are all yours?