Another Thanksgiving, with all the fixins

The Halloween candy isn’t even stale yet and I’m already thinking about Thanksgiving. Because: I have much for which to be grateful. I love watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Miracle on 34th Street. And (who are we kidding), the annual feast!


thanksgiving Cornucopia
source: pixabay

My list of Thanksgiving dinner must-haves:

Turkey. I’ll admit here, somewhat red-faced, that I’ve never cooked a whole turkey by myself. My mom always handled it. When I was growing up, her general credo for my sister and me was, “Stay out of the kitchen until it’s time to wash the dishes.” After I married, we continued with Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ home until we moved out of state. At some point, my mother started having the turkey catered from a local restaurant, but she never entrusted that part of the meal to my sister or me. Since we moved to Michigan, we’ve spent several Thanksgivings with friends at their kind invitation. When hubs and I have had a quiet holiday alone, I have managed to cook a turkey breast, which is plenty for the two of us.

Dressing. I’m partial to cornbread dressing, probably because I’m Southern. (In the South, we call it dressing, not stuffing, regardless of whether it’s stuffed inside the bird cavity or not).

Gravy. I prefer my gravy without giblets, but I can work around it.

Cranberry sauce. I know some people will vehemently disagree, but I like my cranberry sauce from a can. Cranberry sauce is best when it’s cylindrical, with ridges along the sides.

Sweet potatoes. After my siblings and I married, my mom allowed us to bring some side dishes to the feast, while retaining custody of certain parts of the menu, as well as the venue. My contribution was always sweet potato casserole. I make it with pecans on top instead of marshmallows, but with no dearth of sugar, I can assure you. By the way, my husband kindly peels the sweet potatoes because I have a bad habit of scraping off some of my own skin whenever I use a peeler.

Deviled eggs. We never have so much as a Sunday dinner at my mom’s without deviled eggs. I make them fairly regularly. I actually own two platters designed specifically for deviled eggs. I think it’s a Southern thing.


Fried okra. Okay, again this is a Southern thing that makes its way onto the table at most big family dinners at my mom’s. A few years, we celebrated Thanksgiving with some sailors and Marines stationed at the Navy base near Memphis. My parents’ church facilitated matching families with military personnel who couldn’t make it home for Thanksgiving. Growing up, okra was as common a vegetable on our table as green beans. So as a teen, I remember being surprised when one of these sailors, who hailed from somewhere “up north,” revealed it was the first time he’d ever eaten okra! (He had second helpings, natch.)

Green bean casserole. Yes, the kind made with cream of mushroom soup.

Mashed potatoes. I know, I know. We already have starch in the dressing, but you need some vehicle to dispatch the extra (gibletless) gravy.

Pecan and/or pumpkin pie. These are only extras at my house. My mom, who is well-known for her sweet tooth (my sister-in-law calls her the sugar fairy), always has both pecan and pumpkin pies – plus chocolate eclair, some variety of frosted layer cake, and chocolate chip cookies.

I like to save dessert for later on, after I recovered a bit from the big dinner, with coffee, while watching Kris Kringle win in court —and thinking about how much Christmas shopping I have left to do.


What about you, do you have a special Thanksgiving memory or tradition, or your own must-have dish for the big meal? Share in the comments.

32 thoughts on “Another Thanksgiving, with all the fixins

  1. I miss Thanksgivings with the whole family up in MA. Now that Mom and Dad are gone it’s just not the same. My husband and I live in FL now so instead of cooking we go to a restaurant that overlooks the beach. After dinner we take a walk or if it’s warm enough we go for a swim. That’s our new tradition. We already have our reservation.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. It does especially when it’s just 2 of us and don’t want to eat leftovers for a week. We did this last year at the same restaurant and it was perfect. Went swimming too. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow, I am wishing I had been raised in the South! Everything sounds so good.

    My father makes sausage stuffing that has never been stuffed in the bird. Perhaps I’ll see if we can call it dressing this year when I get my second and third helpings…

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I don’t eat meat, so my must-have Thanksgiving dish is a Trader Joe’s vegan turkey. Comes with stuffing and gravy. All I have to do is unpackage everything and cook it. Unfortunately, preparing all the other stuff we eat with it takes some time. But at least there’s always enough for leftovers. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Okay, now I am SO hungry! Sounds like a great meal with a southern twist. Growing up, my Thanksgivings revolved around Italian food, since my mother is Italian. We’d have wedding soup, a pasta, a giant bowl of homemade meatballs, bracciole, sausage – and then the turkey. Which was barely touched. And for this northern girl – it’s stuffing!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. One thing I miss, now that we spend this time of year in Hawai’i, is being away from family for the holidays. But since there are so many others around here in similar situations, groups of friends tend to get together for Thanksgiving, which is also good fun.

    But I do wish some of them were from the South, as that fried okra, corn bread dressing, and pecan pie sound heavenly! And I love, LOVE deviled eggs–how great that you have them all the time! Jealous!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. My family get our starch. We have two types of sweet potatoes, the traditional marshmallow topped one and the one I grew up with – layers of yams and apples. My sister-in-law is responsible for introducing the other one, but after 15 years it would feel weird without them both.

    Not that this keeps us from also having mashed potatoes.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. That all sounds amazing! What time should we be over? My favorite dish is mashed potatoes made by my dear mother-in-law. They have milk, butter, sour cream and cream cheese and are flat-out amazing. The kids love the so much she makes a special container just for them. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We make these potatoes, too—my family calls them Heart Attack Potatoes (charming, I know). They only come out at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We do add scallions. They’re super good the next morning fried up in little pancakes (dust with flour, than fry up in a skillet—even better served with super crispy bacon crumbles). *Sorry. I am Irish*

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Vickie, I am now officially ravenous. What a great post! I’m a parade fan also (plus, of course, the National Dog Show
    on NBC). My movie for Thanksgiving evening is Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What a delicious post, Vickie! Now I want to add fried okra into our rotation! That’s technically a green vegetable, right?? I have a fairly broad definition of ‘green vegetables’ since one night last week I decided fried pickles would suffice for our veg.

    Liked by 1 person

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