It’s Thanksgiving this week! I thought if I typed the words it may become easier to believe. At the same time, I’m that person who’s been listening to Christmas music since October so, theoretically, it should feel a little more like ‘it’s finally Thanksgiving’ to me. Nonetheless, the holidays have snuck up on us again, friends. For some that’s exciting and for others it’s the exact opposite. I’m stuck in the middle this year. Between my husband and I, we lost three family members this year. The holidays will have that ‘something missing’ feeling to us all. So how do you celebrate? I’d say by honoring those people and starting special traditions in their memory. This won’t make the holidays any less sad, especially the first year, but it will keep them meaningful and bring people together.
We already celebrated Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. We had our get together at the farm house and that alone honors his Mom and Stepdad, because it’s their house where all the kids grew up and came back to for any family gathering. His stepdad loved the land out there so we’re always making a point to have some fun each time we get together there. After his service in September, we made a scavenger hunt of miniature Jets helmets (his favorite football team) and sent the kids out on their four wheelers, razrs and dirtbikes to find them! On Thanksgiving, the guys took a slightly different approach and had some fun with guns and pumpkins. Boys will be boys! For Christmas, we’ll be doing a special gift exchange with the adults to honor his Mom. She loved Christmas and used to put together extravagant stockings for each of the kids so this year we’ll be using stockings for our gift exchange in effort to live up to the ones she stuffed full of festive treats and gifts!
If you’re familiar with my first blog Our Front Door Looking In you know on my side of the family we lost my Grandpa this year. Now, this wasn’t a man who was overly festive so we may have to get a little creative here. My best Christmas memory with him is wrapping the gifts he got for my Grandma each year; this used to be my ‘job’ on Christmas Eve though I never remember getting paid 😉 When we’d reach that point in the evening he’d say ‘you ready, tater?’ and we’d head upstairs to see his gifts and begin the wrapping process. I wrap gifts much like I decorate cookies so it took me a little bit of time, but they certainly looked pretty under the tree. To me, finding a gift wrapping station to volunteer with would be a fun way to honor him. For our own family holiday, I love the idea of donating to Hospice who took great care of him in his last days, having a candle for him lit all evening, eating my pie with dinner and sharing our favorite funny memories. It’s okay to be sad, but it’s also okay to be happy. And can we just imagine the celebration they’ll be having?
To jump start the joyful part, I think we can all agree on one thing that makes everyone happy. Especially if they’re nearing the hangry phrase, which I’ve been known to become a time or four. We all do! (in the voice of Kevin from home alone talking about getting into mischief 🙂 You got it. food!
When I was younger I steered clear of butternut squash and cranberries, because I was a kid who didn’t know better! Now when I see these foods hit the store shelves in the fall I get a bit giddy with excitement. It’s another one of those apparent moments I’ve become an adult! First, there’s the smell. If you have cranberries cooking in the oven don’t even worry about having candles burning; you won’t need them. The scent is so good and this particular combination tastes every bit as good as it looks. It makes for a perfect Thanksgiving side dish with its festive-ness. Real word? Watch the movie ‘You, Me and Dupree’. Adding ‘ness’ to any word greatly enhances its definition. Also, if you haven’t seen this movie, you’re welcome for the laughs! Might I suggest popping this in the oven and a movie in the blu-ray player to kick off your holiday week?
Roasted Butternut Squash and Cranberries
A perfectly festive side dish for your holiday dinner!
- 1 large Butternut Squash peeled and chopped
- 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to taste
- 2 cups fresh Cranberries
- 1-2 Tbsp Honey or extra, to taste
- 1/4 cup Feta Cheese finely crumbled
- ground Cinnamon to taste
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Lightly drizzle a baking sheet with half of olive oil.
Add cubed squash to the sheet with another drizzle of olive oil.
Sprinkle mixture of salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Roast squash for 25 minutes.
At the 25 minute mark, pull out the oven rack and add fresh cranberries.
Return to oven for 10-15 minutes or until cranberries start to soften and burst, resembling juicy dried cranberries.
Carefully remove from oven and sprinkle cinnamon, to taste. Lightly drizzle honey and top with crumbled feta cheese to finish.
Have a beautiful day!