I hope everyone has wrapped up their work for the week and are safely traveling or prepping their home for company, relaxing and meeting up with loved ones, and overall enjoying this Thanksgiving vibe. I love Thanksgiving and the expression of gratitude it represents—really, I love all these end-of-year holidays and these are my favorite six weeks of each year (not to mention, my birthday is right between Thanksgiving and Christmas!).
Today, Jake and I are driving down to Southern California to stay at his parents’ place, where we’ll be joined by their extended family for Thanksgiving Day festivities. Luckily we’re leaving Sacramento in the early afternoon (yay for half days at work!) to avoid the worst of the I-5 traffic, which any Californian understands is horrendous for holiday travel. I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll beat the other Wednesday afternoon travelers by already having our bags packed and car loaded so we’re out the door by 1pm, instead of say, 2:30pm. In any case, I’m sure my Instagram Stories will capture the road trip’s highlights and provide an informal traffic report—so stay tuned!
As we gear up for Thanksgiving and make time to unplug while with family, I wanted to sign off for the week with a round-up of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. From the side dishes to the outfit, from the memories to traditions, there’s plenty of special nuggets to share!
Linking up with Jenn of Going the Distance for What’s Ha “pinning” Wednesday!
Several Thanksgiving memories stand out throughout the years.
There was one in particular from my childhood, when my family was visiting my grandparents in Oklahoma. They lived in a small town and simply doted on my sister and me, their only grandchildren. My grandmother was an excellent homestyle cook, though when I was about eleven, my younger sister decided to become a vegetarian less than a week before Thanksgiving. Ohh my dad and I enjoyed poking fun at her and especially her timing. Once my grandmother’s incredible Thanksgiving cooking was set on the table and we all gathered around, my sister longingly watched as the rest of the family dished turkey onto our plates. Within 10 minutes, she’d crack and abandon the vegetarian attempt, but only after she was assured by our loving parents that whatever she chose to eat would be okay.
I also loved our family’s Thanksgivings throughout my teen years, when a few close family friends came over to my parents’ house for the celebration. These were some of the largest Thanksgiving gatherings I was ever part of—upwards of 7 or 8 people—that is, until I attended last year’s Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family (their “super small” Thanksgiving was about 15 people).
Then there was Thanksgiving 3 years, when I had recently started dating a guy with nowhere to go on Thanksgiving, since his whole family lived in Southern California. Out of politeness, I invited him to my family’s small Thanksgiving. He accepted, despite me emphasizing that it would be small. The day before Thanksgiving, I let him know about the final details including that it would be my immediate family, grandmother, and close family friend. It was my last Hail Mary to warn him how small it’d be. But nope, he held on and came for Thanksgiving. Of course, he got along well with my family and friend—and 4 Thanksgivings later we’re driving down to Southern California to spend our second year with his family for the holiday. But later I would find out his idea of a small Thanksgiving is 30 people (while mine is 6), and when he found out just how small mine was going to be, he slightly freaked out but didn’t want to back down because he had already committed. However, there went his plan of coming in for some food and keeping a low profile. Crazy how some things work out for the best, right?
I don’t feel like we have many signature Thanksgiving traditions—not like Christmas, which is a full day of nothing but traditions. I suppose we’ve always made sure to cook several side dishes over the years, such as green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with marshmallows. On more than one occasion, everyone in my family has forgotten to either pull the dinner rolls out of the freezer to thaw or put them in the oven, so it’s a running joke among us about whether we’ll have dinner rolls before dessert. I’d say my family’s strongest Thanksgiving tradition—and by far my favorite—is how my sister and I have grown up going around the table and saying what we are most thankful for before we dig in. Our family and love for one another, health and safety, abundance of food, and once when we were kids, my sister gushed about how thankful she was for her new lunchbox.
Favorite Side Dish
Green bean casserole is definitely one of my favorites so long as it’s the classic Campbell’s version. Stuffing is a top favorite as well when it’s made just right. My grandmother’s friend used to make the best stuffing I’ve ever had, and it was always my favorite growing up.
Pumpkin pie—it baffles me that other households don’t have a pumpkin pie as an option for Thanksgiving dessert. We always have one pumpkin and one pecan pie — only in recent years have I been shaking things up and gravitating toward the pecan pie. (In addition to the pumpkin pie, because who says you can’t have two slices on Thanksgiving?)
Red wine, of course! I love the task of figuring out which wines pair well with the hearty holiday food—before these special meals, my dad and I like to go to the local liquor store and pick out our favorites along with new types, and these past few years Jake and I like to save a few of the best bottles from our winery membership, to bring down for his family’s celebration. This year, I’m particularly excited for the Pinot Noir (which has a little more full body and spice than typical) and—wait for it—white apple wine, which tastes as delicious as it sounds.
On the nonalcoholic side of drinking… while growing up, our household always celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with sparkling apple cider and my sister and I would feel so fancy drinking the sparkling beverage out of champagne flutes.
Favorite Thing to Cook
Despite finally learning how to cook several years ago and cooking most evenings at home, I rarely find myself contributing a great deal to the cooking for Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t have the faintest clue how to cook a turkey or even stuffing, although I’m an expert green bean casserole chef. I certainly help with the cooking, though my mom and Jake’s mom both have the preparation down to a science in the days ahead that there’s not a crazy amount left to do on the actual day of Thanksgiving. I tend to make an appetizer in order to at least contribute something. I’ll be honest though, my appetizers haven’t necessarily been seasonal—the first year I decided to make an appetizer, it was jalapeno poppers, and then last year I whipped up spinach and artichoke dip.
This year, I’m learning from past blunders and considering a baked brie—but only if we wind up at the grocery store on our way out of town today. I don’t want a repeat of last year where I’m running to the grocery store on the morning of Thanksgiving and hurriedly making food amongst the kitchen chaos before guests arrive.
It’s very likely I’ve worn the exact same outfit 2 out of the past 3 years, no joke. Leggings are a must and a flowy shirt with dangling jewelry, preferably gold. Comfortable clothes, but still nice enough for family photos and hosting company. The past several years I’ve worn a red three-quarter length sleeve shirt with black leggings. Shoot and I literally just realized that’s what I planned to wear this year as well…. maybe I should rethink that and wear my maxi dress. It’s going to be in the high 80s by the beach, after all!
Ollie, meanwhile, has his gobble gobble scarf that he proudly wears for the occasion:
Favorite Type of Weather
Speaking of the weather, high 80s are not what I typically have in mind for Thanksgiving (although, hello, beach, not complaining!). Save the snow for Christmas and let autumn represent on Thanksgiving with its cool, crisp air, maybe a slight breeze, and sunny skies to reflect the colorful leaves in the trees. It’s good travel weather, too!
Favorite Lazy Thing To Do After All The Eating
If I’m at my parents’ house, everyone knows exactly where I’ll be within an hour of clean-up: on my dog’s bed curled up with him, fast asleep. I think my sister has a photo of Ollie and I passed out practically on top of each other, cozied up in his dog bed. (It’s a Costco dog bed, so it’s gigantic.) If I’m in Southern California, I like to continue drinking wine with the cousins before we walk to the beach.
Favorite People to Be With
Truly, what matters most is spending Thanksgiving with loved ones and feeling welcome and connected to those around me. I spent a Thanksgiving in Los Angeles while I briefly lived there, and hung out with my dear girl friend and her parents at her apartment across town. And we had a wonderfully memorable Thanksgiving! I also love spending Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family, especially because it’s so different from my own family get-togethers.
Of course, there are the Thanksgivings with my parents and my sister that I immensely treasure. The holidays with my family are always special for me, which I believe has a lot to do with the lack of drama and typical craziness that associates with the holidays. We are that cheesy loving family and it comes out in full force around the holidays.
Looking to Most This Thanksgiving
Like I said at the beginning of this rather long post, we’re on the road to Southern California to stay with my boyfriend’s parents. Their extended family will be coming over for Thanksgiving, and I’m so excited to see them all again. I love his family get-togethers and holiday celebrations. (I know, right? Not a whole lot of people seem able to say that about their S.O.’s family.) Last year, we walked along the beach in the late evening and sipped wine out of red solo cups, and I remember capturing that moment and feeling overcome with happiness and gratitude for what I have in my life.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family, friends, and loved ones. I can’t wait to hear about them and see all the delicious food on Instagram J