It’s one week till Thanksgiving and I thought I’d kick off the countdown with some background on my Thanksgiving routine. First, my family doesn’t do reunions, so Thanksgiving is our time to play catch up. Ever since I can remember (except one year when I was about 10 or 11), we’ve always gone to my uncle’s house in Mill Valley, CA since my family moved to California when I was 4. My mom grew up in Berkeley and most of her side of the family still live in the Bay Area so gathering in Mill Valley is easiest on everyone. When I was young it was always a HUGE gathering. With more than a dozen cousins, lots of aunts and uncles, grandma, family friends and the occasional boyfriend/girlfriend of said cousins, I always remember a very full dinner table. One year it extended from the fire-place to the porch with over 25 people. These days it’s a smaller table with about a dozen people since many of those cousins are married with families of their own. New traditions are being made in their households, but members of the Anderson clan still descend upon my uncle’s house every Thanksgiving, and everyone knows they are always welcome.
I also remember my dad doing most of the cooking. I’m too young to remember my grandmother cooking, although we still use her stuffing and gravy recipes. I think the first year I helped I was a senior in high school or in college and I made the mashed potatoes. It was fun hanging out in the kitchen with my dad, especially once I was in college and I didn’t get to see him very often. So every year I would hang out in the kitchen and help with whatever he needed. He taught me to make a roux, how to julienne the bell peppers, and how to cook a turkey. He keeps joking that I’m ready to do the whole dinner by myself, but I can’t see my dad leaving that kitchen so easily, lol. A few years back my aunt got to remodel her kitchen and when we arrived for Thanksgiving that year my dad was very excited to get to use a Wolf double oven and stove. (Wolf is one of the top industry product lines.)
My mom and my aunt always put out a nice appetizer spread for everyone to nosh on during the day. Cheeses, breads, dips, vegetables, crackers, etc. One year when I was younger my mom wasn’t going to make her hummus and I got really upset and she drove down to the store to get the ingredients so that I could have my hummus. (Her hummus is the best. I can’t eat store hummus because of her, lol.) When I was younger, I also helped them set the table and I loved placing everyone’s name card.
Dessert always consists of pumpkin pie, usually an apple pie or some kind of fruit pie, and a chocolate cake of some sort to celebrate my mom’s birthday. The joke in my family is that mom’s birthday is on Thanksgiving since that’s what my grandma told my dad when he first started dating my mom. So he showed up on Thanksgiving with a present (not knowing that it was actually a few days away) and it’s stuck. So every year we celebrate her birthday, whether or not it lands on Thanksgiving that year.
We also watched the Macy’s Parade, football, would played outside (my cousins had a cool club house) when we were kids, and when the internet started popping up, we “surfed the net”. As we’ve all gotten older it’s turned into relaxing on the porch and enjoying a glass of wine while we catch up. Or go hiking up Mount Tamalpais. Football is still on too. I look forward to Thanksgiving every year as it’s a time when the whole family gets together and we are able to sit and relax and enjoy the time together. I can’t wait for Turkey Day again. Especially now that I cook more than just the mashed potatoes. And this year I get to share it with all of you. So in the next week I’ll be sharing a few special memories from recent years. And of course look for the recap of this year’s Thanksgiving a few days after the 24th. Where do you go for Thanksgiving?