Throwback Thursday # 14 – Holiday Meals

It’s my turn today. I get to chose the topic for our Throwback Thursday Memory Blog Hop. Maggie and I rotate posting this challenge every Thursday. Most here in the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving and might not have time to blog. Please feel free to jump in any time before it’s Maggie’s turn next Thursday.

Participation is easy. If you want to join in, you can…

  • Write your own post sharing your memories and leave a pingback to this post in the comments.
  • You can use the photo above in your post to make it easier to find.
  • Tag it with #TBTMemory or #IRememberWhen.
  • If you do not wish to write your own post, feel free to tell your story in the comments below.

This week’s prompt is: Holiday Meals.  While most people, here in the U.S.  have the typical Thanksgiving turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, not everyone follows the crowd. Think back to holiday meals you participated in when you were younger. Feel free to write about Thanksgiving, or any other holiday meal you choose. Please share any items of food that you or others might feel are out of the ordinary. Do you have memories of any special or surprise guests that came to any of your holiday meals? Did you ever have a catastrophic holiday meal?  Do you still carry on the same holiday meal traditions you had as a kid, or have you changed things up? Are you now typically the host or hostess for meals (sans Covid) or do you usually participate as a guest? Does your family like to go out for holiday meals, or do you prefer to stay at home? Is your table setting different for holiday meals? Do you decorate the whole house as part of your mealtime mood? Please share some memories of your special holiday meals.

My response follows.
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I am sure that it comes as no surprise that my favorite holiday meals were spent with my bio dad’s family. My paternal grandparents and Aunt and Uncle were always ones to have beautiful holiday dinners. My grandmother kept a Kosher kitchen so her meals were different from mine at home. The fleishig meals meant that there was no dairy in any part of the meal. As a very young child I  would often ask why I could not have a glass of milk with my meal. I really could not tell you the exact answer I was given. I later learned it was part of the traditions and beliefs of my Orthodox  grandparents.

Holiday meals were festive and beautiful. There were always many different courses, unlike dinners at home. I knew I was going to get homemade matzoh ball soup at Grandma’s house. I also knew not to take too much of any course, because there were always more to come. We always had to at least “try” a little of everything. I will admit to often not knowing what was coming when they told me what the next course was. It didn’t matter. I tried everything and liked most things.   

We never had mac and cheese as a side dish at any meals. It wasn’t until I went to a friends house for Thanksgiving that I learned others had mac and cheese with turkey. We always had hard boiled eggs as a course at every holiday meal with my paternal family. I was a little surprised when I found out most people don’t do that.   

My aunt was always one for finding long lost relatives. (This was pre-Ancestry times.) It became the norm to go to her house for some holiday meal , and to get a new relative to boot.  A favorite holiday meal memory comes from the late 80s. My daughters were teens and this hard rocker musician comes to the door for dinner. They were in awe to say the least. It was great meeting older relatives, but I must say, this visitor brought a new meaning to surprise guests. 

When my grandmother was unable to host Thanksgiving, my aunt took over the reigns. Then when she was no longer able to host Thanksgiving, I promised I would take it over until I could no longer do so. I love that I have photos of my aunt and uncle enjoying a holiday meal at my house. I was never able to contribute food to dinner at their houses because I do not keep a kosher kitchen. In my home, I have milk dishes with my turkey dinner. I always had sides with no dairy for my extended family. I once made an intricate stuffing recipe that I was sure my aunt would love. I told her it had turkey sausage in it. I even showed her the package.  She refused to eat it because of the word sausage. Everyone else ate it. Live and Learn. 

Thanksgiving was always a long day for my spouse. He would drive for hour and a half, pick up my aunt and uncle, bring them here for Thanksgiving, then make the trip back to their house and home again. I am so grateful he did this so they could still be a part of our holiday meals for many years.

This is the first Thanksgiving without any of them. I miss them. My cousin and I will have a little dinner together. I made the soup, rice dressing, and desserts on Wednesday. The rest will be prepped Thursday morning. A very long time ago I made napkins, placemats, and table runners for all the holidays. It feels more like a festive meal to me when the table is decorated. Hanukkah comes right after Thanksgiving so I am not sure if I want to climb in the attic for Thanksgiving decorations and then Hanukkah decorations.   

The reason why I asked the question in the opening about catastrophic holiday meals is because as soon as I started hosting Thanksgiving, disaster struck each year. One year my oven went out the day before Thanksgiving. One year my plumbing in my kitchen sink didn’t work. One year my heater died. One year I broke my glass top stove. Once, my turkey did not thaw. It seemed like no matter how well I planned, disaster was sure to strike. That lasted for more years than I care to remember. The curse is gone now though. Thank goodness.

A last note, that will come to no surprise to anyone who reads my blog, is about dessert. I am the only one that eats pumpkin pie. I love it. I don’t want to make one for just me because I will eat the entire thing in a day or two. So this year I purchased a small one. In the past, I made sugar free apple pies for my uncle and spouse. I am not a fan of apple pie. What I have made, each and every year for Thanksgiving dessert is chocolate brownies. This year will be no exception. 

22 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday # 14 – Holiday Meals

  1. I guess our nearest equivalent is Christmas. I did barbeque the entire Christmas meal one year, over charcoal. Out of spite. The precvious year, the power company let us down and so I resolved to cook this one without electricity. It was cooked perfectly and delicious.

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  2. It’s always interesting to hear of other’s holiday traditions and what they fix to eat. I don’t think we’ve ever had mac ‘n cheese for a holiday meal, either. We do have boiled eggs, but make them into deviled eggs. And there have been a few disasters along the way, too. 🙂

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  3. Lauren, I always love reading about your family’s holiday traditions – especially knowing how you have focused on maintaining those memories and traditions. This was a lovely post to read. I posted my thoughts earlier today.

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