I am a planner and have always been one. The majority of my in-laws live with in an hour of us and in the past years since I've had kids I have taken over hosting and planning of a lot of our events. When you have four kids it becomes a question of what is easier hosting or driving to a multitude of places? And in our extended family we have 4 sides we celebrate with...which is the territory with divorce.
My husband and I had the first grandchild and when those first holidays crept up I made a decision. We love to cook and have people over so I decided I'm going to invite everyone over to our home and start the tradition for our family that overall we have all the celebrations at our home (thankfully everyone was open to this). The luck of a stay at home mom is we have time to plan and prepare. We have time to think out the celebration and then ask everyone else if they're keen to the ideas. If they are then I make my plans.
My grandmother-in-law turned 80 this past Saturday.
After some commiseration with her daughters I decided to throw her a party at my house on her birthday. In the past year, she stopped driving and her cousin who normally takes her places was out of town so I wanted to make sure my husband and I (at least) did something for her on her birthday. How sad would it be to sit at home all day (alone) on your birthday, let alone a major birthday like this one!
I sent out the evite and then called her to ask her what she wanted to eat on her birthday. And what did she say? She wanted a turkey dinner!
I was slightly concerned I wouldn't be able to find one but thankfully at my first store I found a fresh (not frozen) turkey. I decided if we were going to do turkey, we'd go all out. Over Thanksgiving, I brined our turkey and decided I would do that again because it turned out so yummy. We roasted our turkey, made stuffing and mashed potatoes. For our appetizers, we had salsa, spinach dip, some watermelon and strawberries. I had bought canned cranberry sauce (bought forgot to put it out) and we had planned on making a salad but because everyone enjoyed the appetizers so much we didn't need the additional food. Normally, we try to have something green too but I figured we'd all enjoyed watermelon and strawberries so we'd had some fruit at least!
I'm happy my husband and I have so much fun having people over. We love to cook and to share that with others. I think partly why we wanted a big family is in 20+ years we want to be having our kids and their kids over for big family gatherings and meals. I think so much bonding can happen over food at the dinner table while breaking bread. I just pray that at least some of my kids live near us so this dream can come true!
It's also a time for my husband and I to spend together while doing something we enjoy. We get to create dishes and memories together. I look forward to the days in the not too distance future when our kids can participate in the cooking. Our boys will all ready help crack eggs, bread chicken and dump ingredients into a bowl when needed. I want my boys to cook as well as my husband does! What a wonderful thing to be able to pass along to kids, the ability to cook good food!
I recommend all of the recipes I posted! We made the spinach dip with only half bacon (because an aunt is a vegetarian and we wanted her to enjoy it!). Also instead of cooking the vegetables in the bacon grease we cooked them in olive oil. For the stuffing we used 1 vegetable bouillon cube in 4 cups of boiling water instead of chicken stock, again so the aunt could enjoy the stuffing. The stuffing still tasted wonderful so if you are cooking for a vegetarian the chicken stock is easily replaceable!