My favorite holiday is either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Perhaps I enjoy Thanksgiving more because it is the beginning of a full of month of graciously celebrating meaningful moments with family and friends. As an American, I know the story behind Thanksgiving, but I would like to share the meaning Thanksgiving has to me.
Every year since I can remember (and even before), my family has spent Thanksgiving together with quite the tradition. We start the day with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – it is so cheerful and I love to hear my first Christmas songs of the season playing in the parade on Thanksgiving day. Seeing so many people together in celebration of a holiday with the message “Give Thanks” touches my heart. We begin cooking fairly immediately and spend the morning and very early afternoon centered around the kitchen, and in recent years, the driveway.
Why the driveway? Well, when my older brother, Adam, was in college, he became a volunteer firefighter. That same year, he brought his fire gear home and we decided to try frying a turkey with the help of Adam and our cousin, Scott, resident-fried-turkey-expert. It is an intricate process when done to ensure the safety of all involved, but it renders an absolutely delicious turkey with much less oil cooked into the meat than you would think, actually. Please don’t fry a turkey unless you know exactly what you’re doing – it can be dangerous if done the wrong way! Usually, my mom and I have made most of the other dishes throughout Wednesday or very early on Thanksgiving morning, but there are always those few, like Balsamic Green Beans, that must be made close to meal-time.
We always eat dinner in the afternoon and claim that we’ll eat some time around 1 or 2, but we never actually eat before 3! If we ever eat by the time we say we are going to, we have clearly lost our minds. After dinner, everyone helps with clean-up at least a little bit. Some serve as table runners, others as leftover packers, others and washers, and more as dryers. Clean-up is always done in ten minutes and then the naps commence! I always try to roust at least a small group to go on a walk to digest first, but so many are wiped out after a long day of cooking and eating. Before I had John in my life, my mom would almost always walk with me before napping. Now, I know that if no one else can keep their eyes open, I’ll have John! (He’s a very sweet husband.) Football plays throughout the afternoon, and we, of course, have Dad measure us and mark our heights on the back of the pantry door – even as adults.
The most important piece to our family Thanksgiving is going around the table and telling each other what we are most thankful for from the past year. This tradition is the most irreplaceable moment of the holidays to me. Having a moment when everyone stops to reflect on gratitude is a precious tradition that I will protect until my dying day. To me, this is the meaning of Thanksgiving – celebrating and reflecting with family on all of the blessings we have to be grateful for each and every day.
With this, here are just a few things that I am so very grateful for this year:
1) Creating Scrumptiously Skinny has been so wonderful for me. It has not only affected how I spend my time and made me more present in daily life, but has also fostered in me determination, strength of character, and a belief in myself and my own abilities that I have never felt before. I have all of this and so much more to be thankful for which has really been your gift (yes, you, each of my readers) to me. For your interest in my recipes, photography, and writing, I am forever grateful.
2) I am thankful for my fantastic family that encourages me to work hard at everything I do and expects great results from me. When I fall, however, they are there to keep my spirits high and help me back onto my feet. This support structure, my family, continues to grow – parents, siblings, spouses, in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and all of our self-adopted siblings, also known as best friends. These people touch our lives everyday and deserve to know how much we love them.
3) Lastly, I am thankful for the acts of strangers all over the world who keep my faith in humanity alive. People like the officer who adopted a very sweet pitbull instead of taking him to be put down simply because people are afraid of the breed. Companies like Coca-Cola, which is suspending advertising and diverting this money to help with storm-relief in the Phillipines. Non-profit organizations like Heifer International, The Red Cross, CTC International, and more that work daily toward a better future for this world.
I hope that you will all have a wonderful day tomorrow, filled with the love of family, the comfort of home-cooked meals, and the gratitude that makes Thanksgiving so special. When the day is done and Friday rolls around, I hope you’ll consider this delicious pot pie to use up those leftovers and to remind you of all we have to be thankful for!
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 2 cups chopped, cooked turkey (or chicken!)
- 1 16 oz. bag frozen vegetables (I like a mix of peas, carrots, green beans, and corn.)
- 10 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms
- 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 4 cups turkey or chicken stock
- 1 refrigerated pie crust dough, thawed per package instructions (Pillsbury is my favorite.)
- Preheat the oven to 350
- In a large pan, heat the oil. Add the frozen veggies and cook, stirring, until thawed, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook another 2-3 minutes. While stirring, add the flour and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add the turkey stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer until sauce begins to thicken, stirring occasionally, another 5-7 minutes.
- In the mean time, roll out pie crust on wax paper so it will cover a 9 by 13 inch casserole dish.
- Stir chicken into filling and remove from heat. Pour into casserole. Top casserole with pie crust, brush with egg, and bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden.
- Serving Size: 1/8 of casserole ・233 calories per serving
- I highly recommend eating this followed by Pumpkin Pie Bars!