Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!! This was always one of my favorite holidays growing up. It meant a day of eating delicious food, spending time with family, and truly relaxing (after all the frenzy of cooking 12 dishes was over, naturally). When we were kids, I remember going up to my maternal grandparents' house a few hours away, where they would lay out dozens and dozens of dishes buffet style on their dining room table, and all of my mom's 5 siblings and their families would come too, and we would all cram into the house, pile up our plates, pray, and then find a spot to sit and stuff ourselves silly. :) Then when we were older, we started doing Thanksgiving at our own house, and that created its own traditions for our family. After dinner ended, Bing Crosby's Christmas CD would be inserted into the player, and we'd listen to some Christmas music whilst cleaning up. And ever since, I *have* to hear those first strains from his "Adeste Fidelis" version, for the Christmas season to really be kicked off. I still play it every year, after Thanksgiving, because it just feels right to me.
In the last six years, when I was living in London, the group of Americans that I became friends with always did Thanksgiving together. Someone would host, the rest of us would bring a dish each to pass, we'd eat, laugh, play games, search for the football game streaming live (if we were lucky), and enjoy our makeshift 'family' in a place where we had none. And for a couple of those last London years, M and I also got to celebrate with our friends who live in Dublin - a university friend of M's and his lovely wife from Chicago. In our first year celebrating together Christina and I ice skated at the Tower of London - with the entire rink to ourselves! - while Colin & M drank hot cocoa and made faces at us from the side. Afterwards, we bought the world's smallest and most expensive Christmas tree at Borough Market and dragged it down the Thames and across Tower Bridge into Wapping, where we were living at the time. Ah, memories...
I wonder what our future Thanksgivings will bring...in the last 10 years the celebrations that my immediate family had, have changed - as things do. My parents have a small dinner with an old friend and my mom's parents, my sister celebrates with her husband's family, and my brother celebrates with his wife's family. I was really lucky to get a makeshift Thanksgiving last Sunday with all of them, since that hasn't happened in a couple of years. I doubt we will continue to do 2 Thanksgivings going forward either, as it is a lot of work for someone who has to inevitably cook twice (sorry Mom!!). But for this year, our transition year, I'm thankful that we took the time to relive the old family celebrations and all got together. And I'm thankful that I get another Thanksgiving on the day to spend with my grandparents!
My wish today is that no matter what our new family traditions become for M and I in the future, that the day continues to encompass that feeling of family and togetherness, and that our celebrations always revolve around thankfulness.
Now, for when you're over the whole 'leftover turkey sandwich' thing, pin this recipe: Turkey & Artichoke Stuffed Shells. This is one from Giada De Laurentiis, whose Everyday Italian cookbook is one I have genuinely earmarked from frequent use. I love this recipe - it's written with ground turkey but if you chop up the roast turkey leftovers it works just as well! Just add the turkey in when you add the artichoke hearts as it's already cooked. (This is one for the spice lovers, because it's with an arrabbiata sauce! But I'm sure you could substitute that for any marinara or pomodoro style sauce to make it a bit less hot.)
What Thanksgiving wishes do you have this week? And do you have any favorite recipes you use with leftovers?? Do share! :)