I don’t even like turkey, so why do I make it every Thanksgiving?

At the beginning of November I was in a Kroger grocery store when I saw a man stocking the first turkeys for Thanksgiving. He had filled a cooler with store brand turkeys, but the other side of that cooler had only one turkey of a brand I have used many times in the past.

The store manager approached the man stocking and I caught bits of the conversation, like “don’t try to order more turkeys” and from the few other bits I heard I jumped to the conclusion that “oh my goodness, they won’t be getting more turkeys.” I had heard the online “news” rumblings about a turkey shortage, so of course I bought that one turkey of the brand I like, despite it being over 18 lbs., despite that this Thanksgiving it is only me and my two sons eating here, and despite the fact that I don’t much care for turkey, but I make it every Thanksgiving – because it’s “tradition.”

Of course, I should have waited, because within a couple days I saw many turkeys, especially smaller turkeys (the size I usually buy) in my local grocery stores, so I could have had my desired size and brand of turkey, if I had not reacted to hearing only bits of a conversation and my underlying concerns about a turkey shortage this year.

The larger question I asked myself was why on earth I make turkey every year for Thanksgiving. This is the first Thanksgiving without my husband and I suppose he was part of my sticking to “tradition” at holidays mind-set, although he truly didn’t care what I cooked for holiday meals. When we got married I wanted to create the picture perfect holidays, to include decorating the house and preparing “traditional” holiday meals. My husband often said he wasn’t much on turkey and he made comments like, “I’m glad we only have this once a year,” but for 40 years, without fail, I made turkey on Thanksgiving.

I can guarantee you that next Thanksgiving I’ll begin a new Thanksgiving “tradition” and turkey will be off the menu from here on in. Yes, obviously I shouldn’t have reacted to bits of an overheard conversation at Kroger, but the real question I should be pondering is why on earth I stuck to making turkey at Thanksgiving all these years, when ham was definitely more popular with my family, heck, even lasagna would have been more popular.

“Tradition” is overrated, but even more overrated are the images that can dominate our vision of trying to create memorable family holidays. The meals I remember most fondly aren’t big holiday spreads, it’s meals like one of the first few dates with my husband, where he took me to this nice Chinese restaurant that I remember. The dish I ordered had rather largish pieces of chicken, so I began cutting a piece of chicken and my fork slipped. A piece of that chicken flew across the table and landed in my husband’s lap. He smiled and said, “You’re the first person I’ve ever met who can shoot food across the table and drop it in someone else’s lap,” and then he started laughing hysterically.

With my kids some of the most memorable meals were the ones where things went completely awry. At one holiday meal I had made coconut cream pie and when I sliced into it somehow there was a poof sound and some of the filling exploded several inches up in the air – it was quite amazing actually. To this day I have no idea how that happened. My kids often mentioned that exploding coconut cream pie over the years.

In case, you’re wondering, I make ham for Christmas every year… and I already have a ham in the freezer… Perhaps, my new holiday “tradition” should be “let’s go out to eat!” That would be a huge change and it’s one I might really enjoy… but for now I’ve got this over 18 lbs. turkey thawed in the refrigerator and it’s a real struggle for me to be “thankful” for it, lol.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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