I was worried about Thanksgiving this year, but it turns out that the few days leading up to the holiday were the toughest. I got a little sad when the kids were in daycare and I was home by myself. I missed my dad, and it seemed even stronger without anyone around to take my mind off of it. But thankfully (?) the kids got sick and had to stay home from school for Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so I had some company… even if my company had some nasty sick germs.
Chris’s mom and her long-time boyfriend, Charles, were coming to town on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, so I started my prep work on Wednesday morning with the kiddos. Turns out, they were at the perfect age to help me cook.
Gracie loved hanging out while I made banana pudding. She stole all the Vanilla Wafers and banana slices faster than I could get them in the dish! She’s quick!
And then Bean was a great helper when it came to prepping my dad’s famous stuffing. You have to make biscuits and cornbread for the recipe, and it’s best to make them the day before so they have a chance to get a little stale before baking.
Bean’s job was to crumble up the cornbread and biscuits into a giant mixing bowl. He was really good at it, actually, and it freed me up to get some other things prepped.
That Wednesday, I made a breakfast casserole for us to eat on Thanksgiving morning (it had to sit overnight), I got all the bread ready for the stuffing, I made a beautiful banana pudding, and I even made a delicious Charleston cheese dip for us to snack on while we cooked on Thanksgiving day. The banana pudding is seriously the best recipe I’ve ever made. It’s a version of Paula Dean’s recipe that I found here on Pinterest. If you’re a banana pudding fan, you should check it out. I also found the Charleston cheese dip recipe on Pinterest, and it was pretty tasty, too. We ate ours with Ritz crackers and a cheese and fruit plate.
Thanksgiving morning was really nice and laid back. Chris got the turkey in the oven while I served everyone breakfast casserole.
Then I spent the morning cooking up all my favorites. We had macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn casserole, turkey, gravy, stuffing, and (my favorite) deviled eggs. My mother-in-law, Jackie, makes the best deviled eggs. They are so creamy and smooth! She makes extra for me and Chris’s sister, Annie, every year.
Side note: This year I decided to make the hard boiled eggs ahead of time, so I made them on Wednesday. And instead of actually hard boiling them, I baked them like Pinterest told me to do (naturally…). You put them in a muffin in and bake them at 375 for 30 minutes, and they come out tasting exactly like hard boiled eggs! My only complaint is that the eggs turn brown in the spots where they are touching the muffin pan. It doesn’t impact the flavor, but it does kind of make them look a little dingy for presentation purposes.
I was really focused on the stuffing this year more than normal. That was my dad’s pride and joy when it came to the Thanksgiving meal, and I wanted to do it right. It was really hard to make it without having my dad to call with questions, but my mom, sister, and I kept calling each other as we made it and talking each other through. I got a little sad, oddly enough, when it came time to add the turkey giblets. That part I ALWAYS had to call my dad for and he would laugh and laugh at me while I gagged on the phone with him. Chris came in the kitchen while I was teared up over the sauce pan on the stove and said, “Really? It’s the giblets that got you?” It was pretty funny. Grief is weird.
But in the end, the stuffing came out perfectly. Maybe my best year yet. (Thanks, Dad…)
While we waited for the oven to do its magic, the boys hung out while I sat the table. Our good friend, Gary, was in town to spend Thanksgiving with us. I love when Gary is around. He’s just one of those gentle souls that make you feel warm inside. He has shared many holidays and meals with our family and he is always a welcome addition.
I love setting the table for holiday meals. I splurged this year and bought a new fallish tablecloth. I think it looked really pretty with my china.
I had a lot of people on Twitter and Instagram asking about what kind of china we have. We have Lenox Opal Innocence for dishes, Oneida Julliard for our flatware, and Lenox Firelight Platinum for our crystal. I love it all! They are all so dainty and classic that they can fit any function, season, or event.
The only thing the table needed was the food!
Thanksgiving was a huge success this year! There was a lot of sadness in my heart, but there was even more love and joy and gratitude. When we said our blessing before we ate, we thanked God for the food on the table, the people holding our hands, and those that were not there to be with us. But, really, I think my dad was there. He was in the food and the family and the laughter and the prayers. He was all around us, and that made it a really great day.