I’m feeling nostalgic for the East Coast during these fall days. Santa Barbara is undeniably beautiful, but we are longing for the seasons.
Crisp air and colorful leaves (or not), Thanksgiving declares Autumn like nothing else. Obviously the fall foods play a big role, but it’s more than that. There is something special about the timing of reminding ourselves to be grateful, just as we head into a season of longer nights, barren landscapes, and dormant life. (Not to mention all the commercial Christmas nonsense…)
As we plan this year’s celebration, I’m happy to look back with gratefulness on a few of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions.
POTLUCK OR BUST
This may be a no-brainer for some, but I still hear people complain about having to cook “all that food.” During our 8 years in DC, we almost always hosted a potluck. Big cities that attract young professionals (which often turn into young families), tend to have large scores of people who leave for Christmas vacation, but tend to be stranded without family during the shorter Thanksgiving holiday. So we gathered together for our “Orphan Thanksgivings,” where people brought a favorite dish (Meghan’s southern pecan pie was always a hit) and store-bought rolls were even welcome. The joy of opening my home to some of my favorite people, as well as blessing new friends, is this extrovert’s dream! But to watch the miracle that is the potluck provide an abundance of varied and delicious food that I didn’t have to make (or clean up!) is a welcomed bonus. I have publicly declared that if I never have to make a full Thanksgiving feast by myself, I will consider my life an overall success.
This year we hope to open up our hospitality (and my in-laws home) to a family of six (including a new set of twins!) who just moved here in January from their family home of Tennessee. Kids make Thanksgiving even better, especially when they share around the table with their sweet little voices all that they are thankful for. Kids say the darnedest things, right?
HISTORY AND HEROINES
I’m a lifelong learner so I always like to know and share a little history and reasoning for why we celebrate our traditional holidays. For the last few years, I have read aloud to our family and friends Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation (1863.) This speech finally solidified Thanksgiving as a national holiday with a fixed date. But you could also go further back to 1789 and read Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, which had special significance after the Revolutionary War. Or you could give credit where credit is due and tell the story of Sarah Josepha Hale, who is the true heroine behind the holiday. As an early American author and editor, she wrote to five different presidents, urging them to support legislation establishing a national holiday for giving thanks. This woman’s incredible foresight and perseverance will make her a star of our future celebrations.
HEALTHY DIGESTION AND A LONG WALK
The Thanksgiving feast does not have to be a recipe for gluttony and gut rot. We are healthy eaters, but enjoy very flavorful food that doesn’t have to send your insulin production to the moon. Feel free to limit the menu so that you don’t stuff yourself with 8 different side dishes.
Or taste a little bit of everything, but only invest in the “worthy dishes.” And include foods that are naturally pre-digested or aid in the digestion process. Cultures For Health has some wonderful recipe ideas to enhance your Thanksgiving meal.
For years, I have made a fermented cranberry sauce that kicks the tail of that can of gelatinous red goo and has much less sugar (and more probiotics) than the homemade cooked varieties. It was inspired by a few recipes, but I’ve changed things around a bit over the years. It goes a little something like this:
Finally, before you nestle into a nap or a football marathon, get up and go for a walk to interrupt the tryptophan and get the digestive juices flowing. Our family plans to take a nice little walk along the beach this year.
Maybe Santa Barbara in the Fall isn’t so bad after all… =)
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is GOOD. His love endures FOREVER!” – I Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 118:29, 136:1
What are your favorite Thanksgiving Traditions?