Friday, November 18, 2011


Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. I'd spend weeks planning my menu, shop at practically every store in the area the week beforehand, and then I'd cook up a grand feast for friends and family. One year we had 25 people at our loft and it was an amazing holiday. My sister and her husband flew in and stayed with us, we rented tables & chairs from a local party rental place, and I cooked a 25 pound heritage turkey that turned out amazing. I also imbibed in a lot of my famous sangria so I can't remember half of what I cooked that day because by 4 p.m. I had tossed recipes aside and was winging it. Funny then that was the best gravy I'd ever made.

When we moved into this house we had far less room and a closed-off kitchen, but I still managed to cook up a feast for friends & family. A couple of years ago I even managed to make up a kids' table where all the nephews could sit and pretend to be big boys.

Since that year though, Thanksgiving has gone a bit down hill for us here at casacaudill. My brothers in law have started spending the holiday with their wives' families, leaving just Alan's parents and us. Since we regularly have dinner with them throughout the year, it doesn't seem all that "special" to sit down for a big meal.

In 2009 I managed to convince Alan that we should skip Thanksgiving altogether and instead we went to Ireland for two weeks. We touched down in Dublin on November 15 and our hotel was already decorated for Christmas. As much as I hate the increasingly commercial nature of Christmas (stores putting out decorations before Halloween, advertising that starts on November 1), it was actually kind of lovely. And of course I loved not having to worry and plan for Thanksgiving because it doesn't exist in Ireland. We spent Thanksgiving day in Northern Ireland, exploring the Bushmills Distillery, Giant's Causeway, and Dunluce Castle. I had to remind Alan it was even Thanksgiving back home. It was a cold, clear, blustery day and it was absolutely perfect.

Last year we had Thanksgiving here and it was kind of a disaster. I was unemployed (by my choice) so I tried to be responsible and make a cheap(er) dinner. Since our lives were going through a lot of change, we probably should have kept things pretty traditional but instead we decided to cook a bunch of new recipes and do the turkey a whole different way. We skipped mashed potatoes because Alan doesn't really like them and went with roasted root vegetables instead. They turned out mushy and kind of gross. The skin on the turkey didn't crisp up the way I like it, and basically I was kind of disappointed. Also, it was just the four of us so it felt kind of sad and lonely compared to Thanksgivings of the past.

This year we're heading out of town again and I'm really excited. Unfortunately the weather forecast is giving me a headache. I had planned on packing sweaters, scarves, hats and boots, but right now they're calling for wet and warm, with highs in the 70s and scattered thunderstorms. I have absolutely no idea how we're going to pack for this or what this trip will be like, but I'm looking forward to getting some time off from the (self-imposed) stress of Thanksgiving to just be. And for that, I'm really thankful.