What is the best holiday of the year? There are no costumes that need to be designed, no eggs to be dyed and no explosions going off next door. (Don’t get me wrong – I love Easter, Halloween and The Fourth of July as much as any teenager). Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays because it can be so simple – gather your family, large or small, around the table and share a meal together.
We typically host Thanksgiving at our house. It makes me feel warm and loved to have family (I am talking aunts, uncles, cousins, the whole gang, ranging in age from two years old to 88 years old) at our home.
I love helping my mom prepare the food and put out seasonal decorations. We live in a woods so tree branches, leaves and pine cones, artfully arranged in a large glass bowl, add great fall touches. I always get to choose which music we are going to play and what drinks to serve (a simple one is grape juice and 7-Up, garnished with orange slices) and, when everything is ready and the house smells like turkey and stuffing, we wait for the doorbell to ring.
I have such a big, fun family and I love it when we’re all together*. The food is always amazing, especially at Thanksgiving. My mom and I often bake bread together, which is what she used to do with her mother. Our Thanksgiving menu is very traditional – we briefly discussed doing something different (how about a baked potato bar?) but the outcry was heard for miles. Turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, green beans, seven-layer salad, fresh bread, and more pies that you can count.
One year my great-aunt dropped an entire crock pot of mashed potatoes on the floor. She still brings the best mashed potatoes, but they are now fondly referred to as “floor potatoes.”
Even though it’s more work, hosting the holidays at your house is a great experience. It’s all about being with family and friends so if the cooking stresses you out, make it a pot luck carry in, or even call ahead and order something. Enjoy a meal and then, afterwards, (at least in my family), the men retire to watch football and yell at their favorite teams and the women do a craft (often a DIY present for someone special at Christmas).
The best part of Thanksgiving, however, has nothing to do with the food, football game or crafts. The complete simplicity of Thanksgiving warms my heart. Many generations before me have gathered around a table, sharing a meal together. I want this tradition to continue, and we are now celebrating with all the greats (great-aunts and great-uncles, great-grandparents and great-grandchildren – they are all just plain great!).
*Editor’s note: Allison’s grandfather is Jay Lehman, founder; her uncle is Galen Lehman, CEO; and her mother is Glenda Lehman Ervin, Vice President of Marketing.