Monday, November 23, 2009

Splitting the Holiday

Got lots o' Turkey on Tap— want some…

For the past few years, my wife and I have been hosting two Thanksgivings— one on Sunday for the kids, and one on the day for family and other friends. One would think that because we host two Thanksgiving dinners, we would be stretched thin— but we seem to have this down to a science.

My wife and her family are pretty used to sharing the holidays. After their divorce, the children typically switched between their father and mother's houses for each of the major holidays— Thanksgiving at one, then Christmas at the other. This persisted for many years even after I met my wife. After we got married and the children moved out of the house we started to host two Thanksgivings and held a Christmas brunch for everybody.

I think that one quality that my wife and I both share is we are very accommodating. We try to consider everybody— especially my wife's children and their families. Unfortunately, something has to give and that something is my parents. We do try making it up to them by having them on Thanksgiving day rather than the Sunday before. Besides, the immediate family is getting larger and we only have so much room at the table.

We like to get two turkeys, but not at the same time. Note to self… do not order a fresh turkey to be delivered on Sunday. Two years ago I was outside the butcher's (cell phone in hand) trying to get a hold of the butcher who wasn't there on a Sunday to pick up the Turkey for that day. We scrambled and got a turkey from the grocery store for that Sunday's dinner instead.

Considering that we like to go to church on Sunday one would think this would put a dent into the amount of time spent prepping for dinner. Fortunately, we now have help in the form of our Grandson who likes to peel potatoes, arrange the crudité platter, and set the table…

My grandson peeling potatoes

Depending on when guests arrive we either put the turkey in the oven before we go to church, or immediately after we get back. Call my wife Martha if you like, but she always tries to have some sort of theme when we give a meal— and last year was no exception. We got some wood trivets from our Rummage Sale and incorporated them along with our many squirrels into a "Fall and Squirrel Theme".

Sunday's Spread (Fall and Squirrel Theme)

I know my wife and I both love to entertain— so we don't like things to be too similar especially for a similar event. On Thursday, because we wanted to be different— as well as use the China my wife inherited from her mother, we set the table differently. We tried to be more formal, but still wanted a fall feel. Last year we got extra help from our nephew who stayed overnight to help make two pies, stuff the bird, peel the potatoes, cut and arrange the crudité platter, and help set the table.

Thursday's Spread

This year we told our children to contribute with a dish for the Sunday meal so that we do not have to do everything ourselves. We still make the turkey, but this will allow the children to get in on the fun. Perhaps the day will come when my wife and I will be asked to attend one of the children's Thanksgivings— but that day hasn't happened yet. Our Thanksgiving day will be mixed it up a bit because my Brother In Law and his son are both vegetarians so perhaps we'll make the rolls in the shape of turkeys— but we will still make a turkey breast for the carnivores in the group. Now… time to get working on those leftovers.

What about you… do you split the holidays between family? Are you the one who does all the preparations, or is that left to one of your parent's homes? Do you ever find yourself attending more than one Thanksgiving meal, or is there one giant meal for everybody?



Anonymous said...

Had to Google the word "crudité" and now I can sound all sophisticated when I ask someone to pass the carrots.


The holidays have never been an issue in our family; my wife's parents live in northern Minnesota, and my folks have lived at various points in between, so there are years when we don't see either set for the holidays. Now, my parents live across town from us, so we'll do Thanksgiving at their new place and they'll probably come over for Christmas. We have a bit more room to spread out.

But we are considering a trip to Minnesota for Christmas this year. Which would be cool. I love Minnesota in the winter. The other two months there are just boring!

Lovely pictures, my friend. Very festive-looking and warm. I wish you and yours a super week . . .

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I second Cheek on the pictures! I'm completely impressed!!!

We don't have to split the holidays. My parents live on one end of the state and his parents live four hours away on close to the opposite end of the state.

One year they were both within riding distance of the families so we felt obligated, wait I mean I felt obligated, to attend both. Totally wasn't worth it!

We have never hosted a thanksgiving dinner, in fact, I've never had to cook the turkey. I usually am made to cook sweet potatoes as a never ending joke because I loathe them!!!

Someday I will have to grow up and make my own Thanksgiving dinner, but you almost make it sound exciting! I love the table spreads!!!

It's the clean up that drives my excitement down hehehehehe

Great Post!

Just Jules said...

First of cheekofgod.... you said

But we are considering a trip to Minnesota for Christmas this year. Which would be cool.

No it wouldn't be cool it would be cold. :) As a Minnesotan I am sure our little state is fun to visit because you can leave again...sigh. You also said the other two months are boring - are speaking of Jan. and Feb. cuz it is boring it is depressing. ugggggg

If you are around - swing by and say hi. seriously.

Just Jules said...

As for us and the holidays my parents really are spoiled. we go there on thanksgiving day AND Christmas. This isnt because I am a selfish b*tch (really) this is because hubby's family goes to his step mom's side. (His mother passed away before I met him.)

This year we considered having Thanksgiving at our house but didn't dare ask.... you as a parent of adults might want to let your kids know that would be ok with you if someone else hosted.

T said...

I've hosted before - but I wouldn 't want to show pictures of our spread after the production you put on... can you say "pathetic?"

We don't have to split either - because driving 3 hours to his family fun is acceptable but 12 hours to mine is... well... insane. (or maybe my family is just insane?)

Anonymous said...

I just eat wherever they cook. I am a professional I can eat several different times a day. I saw squirrel something or other, if y'all are having limb rat I want an invite!

Anonymous said...


I meant the two months when it's not winter.


Reminds me of the old joke:

Two jocks were talking sports. The one from Minnesota asked the other what he liked to do, and the guy from California replied, "Surfing, golf, water-skiing. What about you?" To which the guy from Minnesota replied, "We go ice fishing, snow-skiing, sledding." The other guy asked, "But those are winter sports. What do you do in the summer?" And the guy from Minnesota said, "On that day, we have a picnic."

My kids actually like going in the winter. Makes driving fun, but the sledding and snow stuff, and the crisp and clean cold, beats anything Indiana has to offer.

CaJoh said...

@thecheekofgod: So glad you can feel sophisticated while passing the carrots. I guess I get that one from my Martha Stuart wife who tends to give fancy names to ordinary things. She always wants to have something healthy since the rest of the meal is filled with starchy foods like mashed potatoes and stuffing that chips and dip would just send you into a starch overload.

@Southern Sage: I'm planning on making "Sam-Wellington" on Thursday for our semi-vegetarian part of the family which is Salmon wrapped like beef wellington. I know it's not squirrel, but it's not your ordinary fare for Turkey Day.

Anonymous said...


My, that sounds good. I'm coming over . . .

Nova said...

Awww, I like to do a different theme for my table on Christmas day.
Shame you haven't been invited by one of the's because you make it too good for them. I expect they wouldn't want to change the tradition either.
Sounds lovely.

Lisa Hudon said...


I have fond memories as a child of Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparent's house in Des Moines. All my Aunts, Uncles & cousins would drive in for the weekend from various states. There'd be about 25 of us in all.... the 11 grandkids would play all sorts of games, Grandma & the Aunts would cook and the Uncles, besides imbibing a few beers and watching football, would officially (and thankfully, due to a lack of a dishwasher) be in charge of clean-up duty. Those were fun, memorable times that still make me smile whenever I think of them.

But, now I'm the grown-up and live thousands of miles away from family... and to top it off, I'm married to a Canadian (who, by the way, asked me if we couldn't have lamb instead!!??)
In any event, Thanksgiving is now a quiet affair (well, as quiet as a 10 year old, 8 year old and 5 year old can get) with me doing pretty much all the cooking. I enjoy cooking; especially baking, but it's a tiring day for me.... I cook all day long and the meal is over in about 15 minutes, with the kids complaining, "I don't like turkey", "What's that gross brown sauce", "How many green beans do I have to eat to get a dessert" and, god forbid, "Where's the ketchup".

And so, to remedy this situation, this year, we, as a family, are going to help out at a local homeless shelter called Nativity House, for about 4 or 5 hours preparing food and serving the needy. This is such an appropriate activity for our family considering it's been a difficult few years for us in which we've garnered a deeper appreciation for those who go without. I am so looking forward to this..... not only do I not have to slave away in my own kitchen, I get to make others happy, remind myself how fortunate I am, and give my children a good lesson in humility.

I'm hoping this becomes our new tradition. I'll let you know how it goes.

ZenMom said...

This year, we are taking my husband's parents with us to my family's house for Thanksgiving.

It should be .... interesting. ;)

Another Suburban Mom said...

I love how kind and inclusive you are. It seems that your family is appreciative of the efforts you make.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Missty said...

Thanksgving is always just our little family...even though my husbands brother lives a mile away and his sister lives an hour away. Both of them ALWAYS spend Thanksgiving with the other side of thier families, so its just us. My family is all back in Indiana, and Ohio. We have flown back a few times, but its just...well cold, and there is nothing better than to call them and tell them it is a beautiful 75 degrees outside. lol

And this year our EMT son has to work, so, we are postponing our dinner till Friday afternoon.
And I LOVE to cook, so I cook a huge meal for the 6 of us, and we eat the yummy leftovers all weekend.

And oh your photos are wonderful!!

Hubman said...

Thanksgiving was always a fairly quiet and simple affair for me growing up. We went to my mom's aunt's house, I don't think there more than 8-10 people there.

Since I've been married to Veronica, it's been, uhmmm, a bit more hectic. But she's writing tackling the woman's point of view tomorrow, I'll leave it to her to describe!

Anjeny said...

First off...the table setting is absolutely lovely and so elegant-ish. I love how you helped your wife organized and put everything into motion. If I was one of your kids, I'd vote coming over to your place for Thanksgiving every year.

For the last three years some of my friends and I with our family have been getting together for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Fourth of July to celebrate and each of us just bring a little something for the table. All of our families are living in other parts of the world so traveling for these kinds of occassions can be very costly.

I haven't hosted a Thanksgiving dinner since the first year my hubby and I got married and we were living in Texas(where my hub's family live) and I slaved all day and put together a beautiful Turkey dinner and invited his family over and none of them showed up(yes, very rude family) so after that I have been cooking just for my hub and kids.

Now I actually like the deal my friends and I hubby likes it too cuz I don't stress out as much and the kids love getting together with their we all benefit this way..and I don't have all that cleaning to do before or after the dinner..clever uh?LOL

Just Jules said...

Oh yes this year we had non winter on July 4th and the month of October.

Anonymous said...

"I cook all day long and the meal is over in about 15 minutes"


This is so true! Good for you and your family for taking the time to reach out. We have been through hard times this year as well; I've spent over half of it laid off or outright unemployed, and it's starting to suck. No better time to reach out . . .

Dawn said...

I have always hosted Thanksgiving since I got married. My mom did ...and I took over when she passed on.

I got divorced a year and a half ago. Last year at Thanksgiving my ex and I didn't know how to work out the details of a split family, so I still had everyone over to my house (his fam and my fam).

This year it is different. We both have significant others. I will be giving up my boys on that day and be having Thanksgiving on Friday.
...It's hard.