Thanksgiving is here. The older we get the more we appreciate this wonderful holiday with family, friends, and good food! We hold our traditions a little closer each year as our family changes, welcoming new members and remembering those who have passed, by keeping the parts of our traditions we can control, the same.
Traditions in some ways shape parts of our identity or mirror what we value most. Our Thanksgiving for example is traditionally represented by large, very well cooked meals. By well cooked, we mean each person truly puts their soul into the food they prepare and bring. We come from a family of cooks who care about putting love and a lot of flavor into each dish and it shows. Another aspect, we have a large family and we typically have neighbors and guests come as well. Our Thanksgiving tradition reflects the part of our identity of being hospitable, creating and providing quality food, and valuing the company of those around us.
So whether your holiday is not quite what you remember, or isn’t what you desire, traditions can always be picked back up, changed, and strengthened. It is our prayer that you all have a home to go to this Thanksgiving and that you allow yourself to be present with those around you!
Keep reading to learn about our Thanksgiving traditions.
The Macklin Family Thanksgiving
We celebrate Thanksgiving with our mom’s (Macklin) side of the family. Our grandmother had 9 children so we have many aunts, uncles, and cousins to share the day with. Though we’ve had to say goodbye to our grandmother and three uncles, we all still try to gather for Thanksgiving.
Traditionally, Thanksgiving (and every family gathering) is hosted at our grandmother’s yellow house. These past couple of years, with the need for more space due to Covid, we’ve had to move Thanksgiving around to different spaces. We surely miss our traditional Thanksgiving at our grandmother’s house and look forward to being able to gather there again in the future.
Growing up, our grandmother would start preparing for Thanksgiving by inserting her table leaf into her already large dining room table. She would then dress it with linens and her fancy dinnerware that she displayed year round in her beautiful china cabinet our Uncle Poochie crafted for her. Every other year, we’d place food on the table to be passed around family style. We did this every other year because between our mom and aunts, they wanted a buffet style setup for easy cleanup. However, our grandmother wanted food on the table to be passed around. It was a great compromise, but if my grandma really wanted the table set that year, she got her way. As she should have! We enjoy family style serving when possible, so we must get this from Mother (also known by many others as grandma, mama, Mama Jane, Mama Jannie, Jannie, Mrs. Jannie).
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In our family, we make sure giving thanks is the highlight of the day. We don’t eat until we circle up for prayer. However, we will never pretend that the food isn’t also a main attraction! And when it comes to food, our family definitely throws down.
We are thankful that we don’t have to cook a whole meal. Our family does a pitch-in style dinner about mid afternoon. Though we tell everyone to be there at 3, we usually eat around 4PM. Everyone knows their assignment each year, and most get an A+ on keeping with traditions. When we say most, we are talking about YOU Aunt Jean. More on her later.
Our Uncle Roland and Cousin Jeramy have taken over tag teaming my grandma’s signature dressing with capon.Our grandma didn’t use recipes so there are no written instructions. We pray for them every year to get it right! It will never be the same, but some years it’s closer than others. It has become a yearly tradition for me (Keyen) to make her signature egg custard pies. Some years it's spot on and some years I want to throw them in the trash. Somehow, when my grandma would sit there and say things like, “ a little of this”, “a dash of that”, or “that’s enough”, they always came out perfect. On a positive note, those of us who have tried to duplicate some of her recipes are just thankful for the time we got in the kitchen with her to be able to come close to her cooking.
Our mom makes the BEST sweet potato souffle with a pecan crumble topping. If this is not on the table I (Keyen) have no shame in saying I will throw a full out adult temper tantrum, though I’m extra thankful that my mom has never made me do this because I have no idea of how that would look, ha!
Our Aunt Brenda does the greens, mac n cheese, pecan pies, chocolate pecan pies and no bake cheesecake. Aunt Theresa, brings her famous hashbrown casserole and our Cousin Willandra always makes her cheesy vegetable casserole. Aunt Jean usually brings her corn casserole (some call it corn pudding). I say, usually, because sometimes she likes to abort the mission. She’s also the green bean, sweet potato pie, and banana pudding bringing aunt. Since we know our Aunt Jean and her tendencies to shake things up on us, we usually call her a month or so out to express our need for her to maintain tradition. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes we have to lay on the pity. Last year, we were too late calling her. She had bought the ham and added a new dessert to her list and threw out the corn casserole. With corn casserole being another dinner side necessity, I made it myself. Honestly, it didn’t taste as good as hers, so I’m hoping to use that as an honest excuse for her to reclaim it.
Those are the main side staples, but occasionally someone will throw in a surprise side dish. A few years ago, our cousin introduced us to cornbread salad and it was amazing and has been highly requested ever since. We typically have the smaller accompaniments like gravy and canned cranberry sauce (my grandma loved the canned version), but last year we created a Red Wine Cranberry Sauce recipe. Get it by clicking the link below! It is so good and so easy to make.
Click Here: Red Wine Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Rounding out the Macklin Thanksgiving table are the meats, including capon, honey ham, and turkey! We have to say, turkey was not always a dish on our table (shocking I know) because we had the capon on the top of the dressing and plenty of glazed spiral ham.
To us, turkey wasn’t really missing until it was done right! Every once in a while, young chef Ricca, would take a stab at making various turkey renditions. They were all pretty good, better than average at least. BUT, it wasn’t until our Cousin Richie and our Uncle Richard brought their cajun injected, cajun rubbed, juicy, fried turkey to the table, everything changed! Their fried turkey is absolutely delicious and it made turkey lovers out of this family! Now, fried turkey is an absolute must have! We hope they keep this father and son tradition alive, for our sake! Shoutout as well to our Cousin Jeff for smoking an amazing turkey last year as well! We hope both turkey versions will show up this year!
So what do we make? Well it varies. We mainly head up the dessert committee and fill in any emergency side dish gaps that may arise. For example, following our own advice from our 5 Tips to Help You Prepare for Thanksgiving blog,