Our Thanksgiving is slightly non-traditional. I don’t roast a turkey. I fry turkey cutlets (think turkey steaks) in olive oil and sprinkle with poultry seasoning. Then I whip up a delicious pan gravy. I got the idea from Rachel Ray a few years back, and it’s a special treat that we have only on Thanksgiving. I also borrowed her idea for stuffing muffins, except I just use a box of stuffing and bake it in muffin pans. My kids just love having their own muffin of stuffing! We still have mashed potatoes and whatever frozen veggie sounds good. Of course I make rolls, because I love baking yeast breads! Then I use my grandmother’s secret recipe for pie crust, the Pillsbury refrigerated ones! Last year we had chocolate cream pie, but this year will be pumpkin. This year I picked up a couple of bottles of sparkling cranberry juice to surprise the kids with. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it!

Why do I scale back and do a simplified Thanksgiving dinner? Because Thanksgiving isn’t about being stressed out by trying to put on a perfect traditional feast. If you enjoy cooking a big dinner, then there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But there’s no reason to feel obligated to follow a certain menu. My kids and husband would rather have me relaxed and smiling, spending time with them. I don’t handle stress well, and I have a particular problem with putting way too much pressure on myself when it comes to stuff like holidays. Part of how I deal with it, is to ditch the over-the-top expectations, and work on keeping my focus on what matters. I have so much to be thankful for, and I’d rather put my energy into making lovely memories with five of the people that I’m most thankful for!

Truly, thanksgiving is about thanking God for the blessings that he has given to us. The pilgrims certainly had a lot they could have complained about. They’d left England because of religious persecution. Their voyage to America was not particularly easy. Many people died that first winter. Yet they still found reason to give thanks. They, having so little, found reason to give thanks to God. Surely we, having much, can find even more reason to give thanks to Him.

That’s the important part of Thanksgiving. What we have for dinner doesn’t really matter.

Happy Thanksgiving!