One of the most memorable Thanksgivings for me is the first one that I enjoyed on my own as adult when I moved to Nova Scotia. That Thanksgiving is part of our book, A Taste For The Wild - Canada's Maritimes. Some of my good college friends came up to visit our farm on the Nova Scotia shore. None of us had ever cooked a turkey on our own so that alone made for an interesting time.
Perhaps having American Thanksgiving in a foreign country for so many years prepared us a little for having one of my favorite holidays without decending in madness.
When we moved back to the states in 1987, we were really surprised at how many people got on the road for Thanksgiving. Interstate 81 which took us back from Maryland to Mount Airy, North Carolina for the holiday was nearly a parking lot the first time we made the trip home Thanksgiving week. The long trip with a car full of children added a lot of stress.
We were only in Columbia, Maryland, a couple of years before we moved to Roanoke, Virginia. Somehow holidays in the Columbia area seemed to feed off the hyperactivity of the area. You could almost feel the buzz in Columbia during Thanksgiving. Columbia was a pretty competitive place. A lot of people there worked very hard to have the perfect Thanksgiving from decorations to meal.
Roanoke was a different place much closer in attitude to rural North Carolina where my wife and I both grew up. Roanoke was also only a couple of hours instead of seven hours from our family home base of Mount Airy. We enjoyed Thanksgiving even more in the laid back atmosphere of Roanoke, but it was a long time before we managed to stay in Roanoke for a Thanksgiving.
It does not matter how old you are as an adult, Thanksgiving usually means going home to your parents home. We did that for many years after moving to Roanoke until my wife's parents died and my mother moved to Roanoke to live with us until her death in 2004. We did manage a few Thanksgivings in Roanoke before she came to live with us in 2000, but mostly we traveled to Roanoke.
Since 2006, we have been living on North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks. With all our parents gone, Thanksgiving has come to reside with us except for one year when we enjoyed it with one of our daughters and our granddaughter.
In spite of all the changes over the years, we have successfully kept our Thanksgiving a low key holiday. We usually manage to cook a turkey. The rest of our traditional menu includes stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, broccoli casserole, sweet potato casserole, homemade cranberry sauce, and hot rolls. There has never been much flexibility in that menu but we do sometimes get a little creative with the dessert.
With people spending three or four days with us, we end up cooking several meals to go along with all the leftovers. We managed to raise some picky eaters so generally we also cook a pork loin and if it works out we grill some pork chops another night. I generally try to handle breakfast and we often forgo our healthy eating habits for one meal of Neese's Country Sausage and another breakfast of Country Ham.
While having a Thanksgiving feast is wonderful, what we really enjoy is getting as many members of our family as possible together under one roof. With our children's generation generally the only way you can get a good update on their lives is to get them under your roof and feed them until they lose all their inhibitions. We are pretty good at that.
Generally there are a fair number of hikes around the neighborhood or along the Croatan Trails. The outside activity is usually followed with some serious naps. If the weather gets warm we might end up doing a boat ride or a beach walk.
This year the highlight for me will be my son helping me repair a broken iMac that has been in my equipment closet for almost a year. It is always nice to do something together beyond eating, walking, and napping. I suspect the children will find something on Netflix or Amazon Prime that we will end up watching. We almost always manage to find at least one movie which we can all enjoy.
Some of our other holiday traditions like playing rook and making peanut brittle usually have to wait until the longer Christmas holiday. Unfortunately Thanksgiving always ends too quickly, and before we know it, we are worrying about our children traveling back to their homes.
We always hope to make a memory or two that we can cherish. It is hard to say what this year's memory will be, but I look forward to discovering it with the greatest possible anticipation.
Being with your family and loved ones is what the holidays are all about for us. While I enjoy having a turkey feast, it is not the important part of the holiday. Actually just having our children back under our roof is all that really matters.
We even try not to worry about when meals are served, it is a key part of having a stress free holiday.