Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Big Thanks in a Small Way

There's a lot of times I really enjoy my job, but one of them is not when coordinating family plans for the holidays. Since I work retail, I typically work either the day before or the day after any major holiday (and on all the less major ones) meaning we either have to stay in town or drive long distances in short time spans.

In the past, we've made the trip in one day but it is exhausting! Driving for four hours, eating a lot of tryptophan, then driving another four hours makes for one long day. Plus, Black Friday is one of the most chaotic days in any retail worker's year and the hours are crazy. It's hard enough to handle when you're well rested, which is impossible when you have had to squeeze a weekend trip into approximately eighteen hours.

This year, we were planning on going to Atlanta to celebrate Thanksgiving with Pat's family. But relatively late in the game, I discovered it would be a marathon work week with little rest and no days off. Not only do I need a day to relax in general, I need to prepare mentally for Black Friday. So at the last minute we decided to stay in town and have a small Turkey Day, just the two of us.

That's all fine and dandy, but it left me with only three days to plan and prepare. Since Thursday also happens to be my day off, I wanted as little added stress as possible, so I made some concessions when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner; I'll only be making our absolute favorites. That means no stuffing, no cranberry sauce, but lots of baked mac & cheese. Not that I don't love all that, but for me it's more sentimental than yummy, yummy food.

Our Thanksgiving line-up looks like this:

1. Turkey - I didn't have time to thaw, brine, and cook a turkey so we'll be trying the Bojangles' fried turkey this year; not only is it our first experience with the Bojangles' turkey, it's our first adventure with fried turkey in general
2. Baked Mac & Cheese - I'll be using my favorite crock pot recipe for added ease
3. Mashed PoKaties (I'll share that recipe someday)
4. Sweet Potato Casserole - no idea what I'm doing here
5. Green Beans - from a can
6. Biscuits - I grew up on Brown n' Serve, but I just had a hankering for the Pillsbury ones with flaky layers
7. Pumpkin Pie - homemade by Marie Callender

I'll also bought a ton of apple cider and egg nog, plus made the coordinating trip to the ABC store. I love wintry beverages on Thanksgiving and throughout December, but we're also planning on picking our tree this weekend so we'll need lots of jolly drinks for the decorating.

I'm normally very finicky about maintaining traditions, so it's very stressful for me to let go of anything. I'm trying to think of this as a trial run for our first go at hosting a holiday...even though this will be far from homemade.

Despite all the stress and craziness, we have a lot to be thankful for this year.

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