So, call me a rebel against iron-clad tradition, but the truth is that my daughter and I don’t really care for the usual spread of Thanksgiving dishes. OK, turkey is fine. We like turkey just fine, although a whole one of the smallest available at HEB is usually way too much for the two of us, or even three if you count Wee Jamie, who is flirting cautiously with grown-up food of late. We’ve usually just gone with a breast or a half-breast – anything to avoid a whole month of leftovers, which was the case when I was growing up. Mom invariably went for a bird of twenty pounds or more, and we ate leftovers for the following month … and just as we finished the last of eternal turkey strong to save, it was time to face up to the Christmas turkey and another month of leftovers! (We avoid turkey for Christmas, these days – usually settling for Beef Wellington.)

But as for the other traditional side dishes – well, mashed potatoes and gravy are just fine, but bread stuffing just doesn’t warm over well. Baked yams with the usual trimmings of marshmallows and brown sugar are indigestible and sweet, and baked green bean casserole is just disgusting all around. And besides, all of them together are just too heavy, and even worse as leftovers. I don’t like eating myself into a stupor, and then to have rolls and cornbread on the side, and top it off with pumpkin pie…

Nope, just nope and nope again. We’ll serve up mashed potatoes and make giblet gravy with the roasting pan drippings, but for our Thanksgiving sides we’ll do oven-roasted brussels sprouts with red onion and slivers of kielbasa, and corn pudding. Pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust for dessert …

And we’ll go next door to our neighbor, and her niece and her friend from California with all of this. (Our neighbor, of whom we are very fond and have lived next door too since 1995, suffers from declining health. Niece and Friend have settled in to help care for her.) That will certainly take care of the 12-pound turkey that I bought on sale after last Thanksgiving at .99 cents a pound, and stashed on the bottom shelf of the big freezer, against the expected rise of food prices this year. And that’s our plan for next week – yours?

The local HEB was absolutely insane this weekend. We will do our best not to set foot in the place until after the holiday. Yeah, like we say this every year – and still wind up running into the grocery store on Wednesday afternoon …


  1. You’ve expressed my feelings about “traditional” Thanksgiving dishes very well. I especially disliked the “pre-Thanksgiving Office Luncheons” at one employer which everyone was expected to participate in and which ALWAYS had the full round of traditional dishes, meaning my family’s actual dinner several days later just seemed like leftovers …

    When I pointed out the problem to the office organizers, they insisted anything other than turkey was just unthinkable. For some reason, they never adopted my suggestion of turkey pizza.

  2. I went to my sister’s in Colorado; the feast was held at her in-laws’ house. They are aging and don’t travel too well these days. We had the traditional feast, including the green bean casserole, but with the addition of rice pilaf as her MIL is Armenian. The pilaf is a family tradition.

    I have a soft spot for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but I agree that it doesn’t make sense to go all out unless you have a lot of people attending – at least ten, I should think.

    • As it turned out, we just stayed at home, and sent half the turkey next door. On the good side, the leftovers made hot turkey sandwiches the next evening, and the rest, and the broth brewed from the bones and scraps went into white bean turkey chili.

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