Thanksgiving for me is a time to reflect and celebrate gratitude by giving back and spending time with family and friends. I don’t remember when my women’s club started the tradition of assembling and donating Thanksgiving baskets to needy families in our town, just that each year as the need has grown we donate more baskets. We partner with our town’s Youth Services director, who identifies the families along with delivering the baskets. We never know who among our neighbors receives our baskets although sometimes with extreme gratitude a recipient reaches out to us to thank us for our generously. No thanks are ever needed or expected as we are the ones that are filled with joy knowing that we have helped families just like ours enjoy a holiday celebration.
Preparation of our Thanksgiving Baskets beginnings in October as our members start donating all the items needed for a Thanksgiving dinner. Along with the traditional fixings for dinner and dessert, we add holiday items including plates, napkins, tablecloths, and candles, all artfully arranged by one of our members who designs gift baskets. Right before the baskets are delivered, we add fresh produce along with a gift card to a local grocery store for the families to purchase turkeys.
I can’t think of a better start to my holiday season than with this tradition reminding me of the true meaning of Thanksgiving not only to give thanks for all that we have but to share with family, friends, and neighbors just like the first Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving morning finds me at a hot yoga class, two hours practicing with gratitude for all that I have been blessed with in my life. Then home to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Each year I alter side dishes but the main star of the dinner is a turkey. I learned at a young age how to handle and prepare poultry from my mother, an outstanding cook – her turkey is far superior to any that I have tasted. My mother taught me to soak turkey overnight in a bath of salt to tender and remove harmful bacteria. First, my mother would freeze a fresh turkey, she believes it seals in the flavor. Then time to soak the frozen turkey overnight. Next through rinsing, draining and patting dry of the bird. I love rituals so my mothers hold a special place in my turkey preparation. I’ve bought a fresh turkey from the farm, from high-end and frozen from a lower-end grocery store. My only hard fast rule is all-natural. How you dress and cook the turkey plays an import part in how good your turkey taste.
Below I’ve shared family favorites that we enjoy for a family dinner.