&Amp;Quot;It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times,&Amp;Quot;..... - Sweet & Savory Blog at Allrecipes.com - 290490

Sweet & Savory

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,"..... 
Nov. 24, 2012 6:22 am 
Updated: Dec. 3, 2012 6:57 pm
Nah.  It was neither.  And this isn't Dickens, either!  I had a feeling, early on, that Thanksgiving was going to be sort of anti-climactic, and it was.  I decorated the house in a harvest theme back in October, trying my best to "Respect the Bird".  The warm colors of the decorations really lifted my spirits.  I posted some pictures below of my efforts.  Most of my inspiration came from the Better Homes and Gardens web-site.   My family is scattered though, and since Mom died, the extended family hasn't established a new holiday tradition.  So, it was only three for Thanksgiving, and I have to say my heart was not really in it.  The thought of going to a restaurant crossed my mind, and frankly it was tempting, when I thought of everything that goes into preparing the feast.  I just didn't want to spend Thanksgiving with 50 to 75 of my closest strangers.

I read others' comments on the Buzz and on Facebook about all the preparations for the big day.  I felt a little guilty about not doing any planning, myself.  I felt sidelined.  On the Saturday before, when it appeared we had no invitations, I made my decision.  "It is still Thanksgiving," I thought, and if I didn't cook, DH, DS and I wouldn't have any of those traditional favorite foods.  So at 10 p.m. Saturday night, I bought a 12 pound turkey and put it in the refrigerator to thaw.  I thought, "OK, I'm committed, now what?"   I made a list of the foods I wanted to prepare, scaling down the number of dishes and portions.  Next, I made a task list for each day of the week prior to Thursday.  Things work out so much better when I plan my work, and then work my plan.

We had turkey and dressing (some folks call it stuffing), and it came out beautifully browned and perfectly done.  I have a favorite fresh cranberry jelled salad, and I make it every year.  It is from a cookbook we received as a wedding gift.  For me, it is the perfect combination of tangy-sweet that balances the dressing nicely, and it reminds me of Aunt Elizabeth Ann, who gave it.  That took care of my favorite.  DS dearly loves goopy, marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes (NOT my fave), so I made them for him.  DH just loves food, so he was covered.  Mashed potatoes, fresh-baked rolls, and giblet gravy were also on the menu, and I didn't use a recipe for any of this.  However, I needed a green vegetable.  I thought about steaming some broccoli.  It's my "go to" side, because I think it "goes with" nearly everything.  "Not quite right," I thought.  "Maybe there is something on AR.  What is a green vegetable everyone will eat?"  DS is kind of picky.  I found this recipe for green beans: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Green-Beans-with-Almonds-and-Caramelized-Shallots/Detail.aspx?prop31=1<
It is a colorful dish and quite tasty.  Mom's recipe for pecan pie completed the menu. 

I spent Thanksgiving morning in the kitchen, as I'm sure many other cooks did, too!  Real food is satisfying, but it also takes planning, preparation and execution.  I remembered why I don't cook like that everyday.  But, considering our lifestyle, we just don't need all those calories.  We enjoyed our harvest feast, and continue to do so with the leftovers, but when the dressing is gone, it will be back to simple for us. 

I am thankful for the abundance that surrounds me, just waiting to be noticed.  I am thankful for my family, even though it's hard for us to overcome the miles that separate us.  I am thankful for my close friends who can provide the physical hugs my family cannot.  I am thankful for my AR friends and for the connections we share.

So, it wasn't the greatest Thanksgiving ever.  It wasn't the worst, either.  But it will do.
Harvest Mantle
Photo Detail
Harvest Table
Photo Detail
Harvest Mirror
Photo Detail
Entry Urn, one of a pair
Photo Detail
Nov. 24, 2012 6:29 am
Bibi, your decorations are beautiful, so festive. It was just my DH and I for Thanksgiving, but I also made the full tradional meal. Now, I have leftover coming out of my ears, but we will put them to good use. Enjoy the rest our your holiday season, even if your family is spread out. Take care
Nov. 24, 2012 6:41 am
Bibi - what a wonderful blog and your pictures are beautiful! I wish I had that flair for decorating. I don't and don't even try. It is tough as the family spreads out and others leave us - but it sounds like you covered all the bases with your mom's pecan pie and your son's favorite sweet potatoes. My husband loves the sweet potato casserole I make, but always comments his favorite is the goopy marshmallow topping - not my favorite.
Nov. 24, 2012 6:44 am
Wow! You have quite the decorators touch!! Beautiful home! I, too, decorated and cooked the big meal.....even though it's just the 4 of us. Being military for so long, we're used to not being near family for the holidays. :-). We have so much to be thankful for......sometimes I forget that. Thanks for the great blog. I'm sure your family loved and appreciated all that you did (and do!).
Deb C 
Nov. 24, 2012 6:52 am
Your home looks beautiful. I wish I had your decorating style. We too had just three of us and that is a lot of work for three people who eat for five minutes and go back to watching the football game. But we do love our leftovers. :)
Nov. 24, 2012 7:00 am
Your home is beautiful and reflects your love and creativity! We also found our family member numbers dwindling in recent years. At first it was difficult to get into the spirit and our traditional meals made me sad. We have begun to invite people we know who are alone for the holidays. The handyman who has been helping my son rehab his home mentioned "thanksgiving is just another day" so we invited him. My husband has an elderly 3rd cousin and one of the young girls I work with has all of her family out of state. It's an eclectic group but we have a nice time together. I feel like my planning and prep are appreciated again. Think about opening your home too.
Nov. 24, 2012 7:02 am
WOW!!!! Your place looks beautiful! We once had just the three of us when we were visiting our son in Orlando. He was only 18 and was a volunteer delivery person for Meals on Wheels. We were going to go our to a fancy restaurant but Don suggested we cook the feast and deliver meals to all of his list. It was a fantastic day and I will never forget how proud we were of our precious son for being so great with these old (and many of them dirt poor) folks :) I am grateful for those memories and very thankful that you came into my life Bibi!
Nov. 24, 2012 7:03 am
Bibi, I love how you decorated your home! So pretty! I'm glad you had a nice Thanksgiving. I just can't see anyone going "out" to eat on Thanksgiving. Everything tastes good the next day anyways! I know you wished everyone could have been there, I'm sure they thought of you too! Great blog!
Nov. 24, 2012 7:05 am
Thanks for sharing your time and your kind words, thunder. I'm happy about the leftovers. The rest of them will make a great Sunday night supper. Hope you and yours will be able to get together sometime during the season!
Nov. 24, 2012 7:12 am
Oh, Mother Ann, the decorating is a poor second to having everyone come in! I have to give credit for the decorating ideas,though. I was inspired by some great photos from BHG. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to begin! I only do the marshmallow thing once a year--so many recipes, so little time!
Nov. 24, 2012 7:15 am
MelissaLovesCoffee--I love coffee, too! Thanks for sharing. It's a lot of work for a small group, but no one would have a Thanksgiving celebration if I didn't do it. I hope you will be able to be with your family sometime soon. Any day is a special celebration if we make it that way!
Nov. 24, 2012 7:17 am
Deb C, we stretched it out a little. We didn't have dessert with the meal. We had dessert AS our evening meal, instead! Yum, leftovers! I have another dish of my cranberry salad!
Nov. 24, 2012 7:21 am
irayd8, thanks for stopping by and for your compliments. It is a lot of fun to invite people in, and I have done that in the past. I felt I was just too late about getting into the spirit of things--most everyone had made plans by the time I decided to do it. I hope I have a houseful for Christmas!
Nov. 24, 2012 7:25 am
mauigirl, that is high praise! You have a remarkable family. I am proud to know you, and I hope our paths cross again soon. Electronics are wonderful, but they can't take the place of a real hug. Blessings on all of you!
Nov. 24, 2012 7:30 am
luv2cook, we tried going out for Thanksgiving one year--never again! My tradition is family and friends, in someone's home. Thanks for your comments, and enjoy your leftovers!
Nov. 24, 2012 7:36 am
AAWWW BIBI, that was Lovely!! Your house is soo Terrific! Very talented:):) You are correct, the miles seem impossibly long when head of the family passes. No one seems to want to put in the Effort if Granny or Gramps isn't around to wrangle everyone in from all over the country:(:( My family got blown to Kingdom come when MIL died and only 1 SIL still communicates with us! SAD!! We have to soak up those family traditions like a sponge :) It was just the 5 of us this year as well. Last year, I had a whole house full!! Both are Great in their own ways:):) Thanks BIBI for sharing your story. Love u:)
Nov. 24, 2012 7:43 am
Hi, Patty Cakes! If we can't have family, we can have friends. But even my AR friends are half the country away! Lovely to hear from you, and thanks for your compliments. Looking forward to another round-up, myself!
Nov. 24, 2012 8:00 am
Lovely decorations, Bibi. Our Thanksgiving was a little different this year too, but my motto is "It is what it is." I am still grateful for family and plan to make every day a thankful day.
Nov. 24, 2012 8:03 am
Bibi, your decorations are lovely, they always seem to brighten things. Our family is getting smaller each year, also, and so spread out. Can't even remember when the last time we were all together. We have "adopted" an elderly neighbor who is 78 and the pickiest and grumbiest I have ever met; but we love her and try to include her in our life. Enjoy your leftovers!!
Nov. 24, 2012 8:22 am
Paula, "back in the day" when I was in college, I read an essay about change. The essence was that the ability to adapt to change was going to be a valuable asset. Isn't it funny how long that has stayed with me? As you say, "It is what it is". I guess nothing stays the same, so we must deal with what is, right? I know you are dealing with huge family issues, and I appreciate your time to read and comment. May you, too, see abundance all around.
Nov. 24, 2012 8:26 am
Hi, misty! I think it was the decorations that actually carried me into the spirit. Thanks for your comment. Your neighbor is lucky to have you, and probably unaware of the negative habit she has developed. Loving "in spite of" not "because of" is the most unselfish kind of love!
Nov. 24, 2012 9:03 am
You are very talented, Bibi. What to come decorate my house? We had the whole crew here for Thanksgiving, 25 in all. It was a little crazy. We made some good memories though. I am glad that you decided to forge ahead with your turkey dinner, I know your family appreciated it.
Nov. 24, 2012 9:44 am
I know exactly how you feel, Bibi. Last year was depressing without any extended family or our son. I felt like it took the same amount of work to cook for 2 as it did 20. This year our son was home so it was 3 for dinner. I'm thinking of telling them NO CHRISTMAS COOKIES will be baked in my kitchen till the T-day leftovers are gone :) Lovely decorations and blog!
Nov. 24, 2012 9:48 am
Baking Nana, now that's what I'M talking about--people, an abundance of people; conversation and commotion and laughter, even some aggravation from the kids; plates balanced on knees, stepping over spots staked out on the floor! I can just imagine the party at your house. You had the decorations that matter, you had loved ones all around. I know you were celebrating royally, and I hope you have time to catch your breath before you start the sleigh ride to Christmas!
Nov. 24, 2012 10:10 am
My family is the "quiet" part of our bigger families and we really, really dislike the rooms full of people and kids running all over the place, so when my kids were in high school, we just stopped doing it. We had a full spread at our house, where it's calm and peaceful...just the way we like it. For a few years when we only had one in college, we went down to Fort Davis, Texas (about as remote as it gets!) and rented a cabin and went to the Hotel Limpia for ther extensive Thanksgiving spread. We loved that too! Gorgeous sight-seeing, card games and hikes with the kids. One year my husband and son hauled their motorcycles down and had a great time riding. In the last few years, we've added my widowed father-in-law to the meal. He really enjoys it...my mil was *not* a good cook and never wanted to do it anyway. My own parents live so near that they don't mind that we don't come for Thanksgiving. It sounds like your quiet day was a bit lonely for you, but I can tell you appreciate the family you did have near.
Nov. 24, 2012 10:46 am
Bibi: Sorry to hear your family wasn't able to be together, but it sounds like you made the best of the situation. We are always non-traditional when it comes to holidays. My husband and youngest son left at 5am for goose hunting. They strolled in the house a little after 12pm. I fed them in nice, sizable breakfast. Then 30 minutes later, they rushed out the door to drive to their sacred turkey hunting grounds. I haven't seen them since. Different? Sure. But as long as they are enjoying themselves, it's fine with me.
Nov. 24, 2012 11:12 am
You are so amazing! Your Thanksgiving experience touched my heart and has made my weekend shine! I can just imagine how wonderful your house smelled for your small crowd. What a treat! It was just my husband and I this year for Thanksgiving. We drove to La Grange and picked up Thanksgiving Dinner Plates---Dry-void-of-flavor-Thanksgiving-plates! But the two hours we spent with Don's parents in the nursing home were rich with love and laughter. I thought about not cooking for us on Friday, but then thought why not? So OFF with another Turkey's neck! A little (three hours) worth of effort and a final pat of butter on the 'ol boy and in the oven he went! It was delicious! We, however will be eating turkey until Christmas----wouldn't want to be wasteful now! Thanks so much for your blog! Miss you dearly! T
Nov. 24, 2012 12:18 pm
Good idea, Cat, Bake Friday will have to be delayed until the leftovers are gone! Anyway, who has space in the fridge for ingredients now, anyway? It was a lot of work, but without any daughters or in-laws (hint, hint!) the traditions are in my hands. If I don't do it, there is no feast! Keep on keeping on, I guess. Thanks for coming, Cat!
Nov. 24, 2012 12:21 pm
TwoSweetPickles, a holiday should be a "holy" day, in whatever way that means to you. You have established a lovely tradition, too. I know the cabin and the time apart feeds your spirit. Thanks for sharing part of your day with me!
Nov. 24, 2012 12:22 pm
What gorgeous fall decor! I have no talent for decorating, and it's clear to see that you got mine! Love your blog post-thanks for sharing.
Nov. 24, 2012 12:28 pm
Hi, bikerfamily! Good to hear from you again! I understand about hunting, too. When my cousins were teenagers and my uncles were middle-aged, hunting on Thanksgiving day was something they all enjoyed. The hunting sort of died out when my uncles got older. Sitting by the fire and telling tales became the new tradition!
Nov. 24, 2012 12:30 pm
Hi, Theresa! Well, I must admit that I went to a little trouble for me, too! I'm so glad I did. Thanksgiving would have passed without a whisper, otherwise. Thanks for your comment!
Nov. 24, 2012 12:31 pm
I love your Thanksgiving decor. I hope you write your recipes down for you son. It sounds like you have wonderful recipes in your head. There are many recipes I don't have from my mom stuffing is one of them. This year was the closest I got to the taste.
Nov. 24, 2012 12:36 pm
Paula T, you're so sweet to say that. This is the year I stopped saying "No" to myself! I can't begin to tell you how much good has come about because of that. I saw the pictures in BHG, and instead of saying "no, I can't", I said "Yes, I can!"
Nov. 24, 2012 12:50 pm
Lela, that was always part of the fun on Thanksgiving day. Mom, my sister and I would get in the kitchen and start "doctoring" and sampling the dressing. That's how I make it now, too! I have written down the pecan pie recipe, and it's in a safe place. The cranberry salad recipe is easy to spot--it has splatters and drips all over it! Thanks for sharing with me!
Nov. 24, 2012 2:13 pm
Bibi your house looks wonderful,you are so talented.What i did for my girls last Christmas was write a cookbook for them for the recipes that i learned from my mom,and aunts,of course nothing is written down,it's all in my and my sisters heads,bet your son would like something like that.Take care.
Nov. 24, 2012 2:25 pm
manella, you are so right! My son wanders into the kitchen and watches me sometimes. He seems to be interested in learning some things, so I am encouraging that as best I can, without running him off, lol! We have some of the family favorites in the person's actual handwriting, and they are precious, as you may imagine! Thanks for coming by!
Nov. 25, 2012 6:32 am
Bibi, your decorations are beautiful. I love the candles in the fireplace. I remember Thanksgiving when I was growing up, we lived so far from family since my Dad was in the Air Force that it was usually just the four of us. Many times Dad was overseas during the holidays and it was just 3 of us, but Mom still cooked up a turkey and all the special trimmings and made it very special. I treasure those long ago memories of Thanksgiving, mostly because now it is so very rare that just Mom, Dad and my brother are together with no one else around. I'm glad your Thanksgiving turned into a special memory for all of you...you did that.
Nov. 25, 2012 7:54 am
What a truly heartfelt blog Bibi. Truth be told, more people than we think have smaller TG celebrations because of the miles that separate us and a whole host of other reasons. Our TG holiday was several small dinners and started last Monday; and is continuing with our daughter and family coming in tomorrow from Washington. The best TG memory made this year though was our eldest Grandson telling us on TG day we are going to be Great-Grandparents next July! I am truly blessed!
Nov. 25, 2012 7:56 am
BTW, your home looks, cozy, warm and inviting! Beautiful!
Nov. 25, 2012 10:16 am
Thanks, Sherri! I have candles in the fireplace because it's usually too hot to have a fire. The last time I did, I had to turn on the AC, lol! I understand about a small group, too. So many people have scads of people in at Thanksgiving, and actually they are my favorite times. This year we were small in number, and I didn't want the day to pass unnoticed. Thanks for commenting!
Nov. 25, 2012 10:18 am
Congratulations, Candice! So happy that you had the best Thanksgiving ever! I will say that writing about our day and having everyone's comments have done wonders for my spirit. Thanks for your kind words!
Nov. 25, 2012 3:31 pm
Hi Bibi, your home looks so warm and inviting! I can relate to your smaller, more intimate Thanksgiving dinner. Since my MIL's passing 2 yrs ago things have been so strained with siblings that we no longer gather. Since we want a drama free day we only gather as a family with our 2 grown children, the one spouse and one and only grandchild. It's so different but so peaceful now. Maybe it will change in the future but for now this is a lovely new "normal" that we have come to discover and appreciate with our family! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. So many of us can relate =)
Nov. 25, 2012 7:17 pm
Bibi, your fall decorations are so beautiful! Glad you had your traditional Thanksgiving after all. P.S. - Great talking with you! Darn it, wish we lived closer.
Nov. 26, 2012 2:41 am
Hi, Preshie, thanks for your comments. I'm so happy that you have created a new normal for your family. Large family gatherings seem to be the rule on Thanksgiving, but not everyone can do that, for lots of reasons. I do relate. The size of the group does not define its celebration!
Nov. 26, 2012 2:45 am
Mags, when I moved to South Texas, I didn't understand how FAR away from everything, everywhere and everybody it was! That's part of the reason our group was so small this year. Folks wanted to get together, but the logistics were daunting. Looking forward to MORE than a cyber hug from you!
Nov. 26, 2012 4:33 am
Thank you,Bibi for sharing your wonderful story. I only had three to cook for (me and my sons),but I made all the things they love. The meal was a true labor of love,as my oven isn't working and I had to work 8 hours. The turkey breast cooked in the slow cooker and the toaster oven worked over time. Your decorations were outstanding.
Nov. 26, 2012 7:59 am
Your decorations are beautiful and I love your story. Thank you for sharing.
Nov. 26, 2012 9:52 am
great decoartions - great blog. Glad you enjoyed the day.
Nov. 26, 2012 1:01 pm
Bibi, lovely blog and so glad that you decided to "go for it" and keep that Thanksgiving tradition alive. I've gone out for Thanksgiving dinner only twice in my life. Once, we were moving into a new home so it was impossible to cook. And the other time, I'd been traveling so much with work, I was just too exhausted to even think about preparing that meal. And I must be honest, at least for us, it just isn't the same as sitting for that dinner at home. We have no family living within 1,500 miles, so we typically share the day with just a couple friends (usually ones who are in the same position as we are), and this year was no different. But next year, I'm looking for an invite from somebody because I'd like a break from preparing "the" meal. For us, Thanksgiving is a time we touch base with family via phone and enjoy the day with friends. Christmas is the time, if at all possible, that we get to see family. Either way, it's quality time, and I'm thankful for that. BTW, your home is decorated beautifully.
Nov. 26, 2012 1:59 pm
pattyD, your sons are luckier than they know! So glad your small dinner turned out in a "big" way! Thanks for your comments.
Nov. 26, 2012 2:00 pm
Thanks, Clover! I really didn't have any food to brag about, so I took pictures of other things. Thanks for stopping by!
Nov. 26, 2012 2:03 pm
Thanks, Doug. I hope to do a better job on the menu, come Christmas. Somehow, I don't feel as strongly bound to Christmas traditions. So glad to "see" you!
Nov. 26, 2012 2:11 pm
Hi, lutzflcat! I know we are in agreement about restaurants and Thanksgiving, and I hope I am not tempted try one again. I have shared a turkey or two with friends, but this year, I just couldn't work up the enthusiasm. I'm hoping Christmas will be different. I'm also hoping like you, that we will see some of the family, but all kinds of things can happen in a month! So nice of you to share some of your experiences with me!
Nov. 29, 2012 4:28 am
We are so glad we are back with family, although we surely miss our NM friends. Your decor is lovely and I hope you have family and friends to share your Christmas. HUGS!!
Nov. 29, 2012 12:03 pm
{{{{Hugs}}}} to you, too, midwestchef! I don't know yet how Christmas will turn out in terms of family, but I know it will be full of energy and friends. Stay warm this winter, and thanks for your comments!
Click to Change your Profile Picture

Home Town
Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA
Living In
San Antonio, Texas, USA

Member Since
Dec. 2009

Cooking Level

Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Southern, Mediterranean, Low Carb, Healthy, Quick & Easy, Gourmet

Gardening, Reading Books, Music, Wine Tasting

Subscribe Today!

In Season

Homemade Pancakes Are So Easy
Easy Homemade Pancakes

Homemade pancakes are so easy to make, and nothing tastes better.

Guacamole, Chips' Best Friend
Guacamole, Chips' Best Friend

Try one of our dozens of ways to make delicious fresh guacamole.

Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

Delicious recipes, party ideas, and cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for $7.99!

About Me
My cooking experiences began in the 4th grade Conservation Club. Cooking and Sewing were classes for girls, and my mom agreed to teach them for me and a couple of friends. We began with a blond brownie sort of dessert. After I made it a few times, I began to experiment with the recipe. Mom was a no-recipe cook, and I do that, too, but I usually follow a new recipe the first time. Most of the time, I can tell by looking if we will like it. I have a husband, 2 sons, 1 granddaughter, and one ex-daughter-in-law. I was chosen to be an AllRecipes Allstar Ambassador in 2012, and I am so excited! I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com. Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews on my blog, "Sweet & Savory". The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of me, Bibi.
My favorite things to cook
My favorite thing to cook is dressing (I'm a Southern Gal) for holiday turkey. I never work from a recipe, but I just start sauteing and mixing, sampling as I go. By the time I think it's right for the oven, I've eaten a full serving of the raw mix!
My favorite family cooking traditions
I have some heirloom recipes from both my grandmothers, my mother, and other family members. When I prepare them, I am remembering time in their kitchens.
My cooking triumphs
One year, we hosted my husband's office Christmas party in our home. I did the whole dinner for 24, and it was a huge success.
My cooking tragedies
My first try at making croissants was kind of embarrassing. The croissants were a success, but the house was a disaster, and of course, the guests were already there! The recipe said to bake them in a jelly roll pan, but I used a cookie sheet. As the butter in the croissants melted, it ran off the sheet and into the hot oven, smoking up the whole house! Was my face red ...
Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States