Tales From A Hungry Life

November 24, 2016

10 Reasons to Be Grateful This Thanksgiving

by Maria Schulz

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Did you know that being grateful is actually good for you? There’s scientific proof that being grateful can have a dramatic impact on your life—keeping blood pressure low, making your immune system work better, and helping you get more sleep.

That’s good news, because Thanksgiving Day can come with its own stresses. Maybe you’re having a big crowd over and you have a million things to do. Or, maybe you’ll be a guest and some of the folks you’ll be seeing annoy the living daylights out of you. Plus, with all of the food being served, this holiday can wreak havoc on your health.

Everybody loves roast turkey

Everybody loves roast turkey

So…instead of focusing on the things that will drive us crazy today or make us fat, how about finding things to be grateful for? Here are some suggestions.

Family can be fun

Family can be fun

  1. Family

Sure, not everyone is blessed with the perfect family. But come to think of it, is ANYONE? Find me the perfect family and I’ll show you a pack of Yetis with the same last name. Sorry, folks—this mythical family doesn’t exist. We humans are imperfect and tend to get on each other’s nerves. Still, there are ways around this. Is your wacky, forgetful mom bringing her world famous mashed potatoes to the table? Be grateful. Is your annoying, messy, but somehow-still-lovable son home from college? Be grateful. Is Uncle Harry smoking his disgusting cigar outside—and keeping his shoes on his smelly feet inside? Be grateful. You get the idea.

Get out there

Get out there

  1. Friends

Some of us rely on the kindness of friends to make our holidays special. Maybe your family is a pack of psychos or they just live too far away to spend the day together. If you want to spend it alone, that’s great. However, if you are miserable because you feel you’ve been rejected by humankind on this day of thanks, accept an invitation to dinner with your stand-in family—your friends—or go help others at church, a soup kitchen, a nursing home, etc. Don’t just sit there like a Debbie Downer crying over your sad, tiny bird. Get out there and mix with people. You’ll be glad you did, even if those people are watching an awful lot of football.

Don't be that friend

Don’t be that friend

3. You woke up today! Hey, if that’s not a reason to be grateful, I don’t know what is. Be grateful that you’re up and about. Go participate in a local Turkey Trot. Go to church. Smile. Today is a gift. Treat it that way.

Run, run, run

Run, run, run

4. You’ve got all of your marbles. Metaphorically speaking, that is. And if you literally can’t find your pack of marbles, I’ve got good news for you: you can go online and score a big Black Friday deal on some new ones.

I've got a lot to be thankful for

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for

5. Your kids gave you one of those “I’m Grateful For” Turkeys with wonderful things written on all of the feathers. Somehow, you managed to score ahead of the dog, the iguana, and a pack of Legos. Be grateful.

6. When all the cooking and eating is done, you can watch football. Or the dog show. Or you can watch the parade while you cook. The point is, you can do whatever you please. If you have to work today, make plans to celebrate tomorrow or Saturday or whenever you can be surrounded by those you love or at least like enough to challenge to a wishbone-breaking feat of strength.

Or you can make your own "I'm grateful for" list

Go ahead, make your own “I’m grateful for” list

  1. There’s pie! Apple, pumpkin, blueberry, lemon meringue. Why wouldn’t you be grateful?
Best Ever.

Best Ever.

  1. NETFLIX! If watching sentimental movies or football is not your thing, go for Breaking Bad or Orange is the New Black. Turkey-binging and Netflix-binging. Perfect together!
Red, white, and imperfect blue

Red, white, and imperfect blue

  1. We are Americans. We live in a country that is not perfect, but it’s our country. The Bill of Rights lets us practice our beliefs, pursue happiness, and complain thanks to Freedom of Speech. We aren’t perfect and we’re able to say so. That’s a pretty amazing unalienable right and I’m grateful for it.
Plus you can read whatever you want

Plus you can read whatever you want

  1. Laughter is free. Yes, your family and friends may do things that annoy the stuffing out of you. Grandma may eat food off your plate. Your best friend Gerry may bore you with endless football commentary. Your beloved dog may have just barfed blueberry pie all over your rug. So what? Chances are your Thanksgiving Day disasters will live on in infamy. Today won’t last forever, and those people and pets who are driving you crazy won’t be here forever either. Be glad you’re where you are right now and laugh as much as possible.
the muppet movie

They look happy

Here’s a bonus reason to be grateful today: even if you’re watching your weight, dessert on Thanksgiving is MANDATORY!

Where have all the cookies gone?

Where have all the cookies gone?

Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon clove

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup white sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup pure pumpkin

1 cup chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove together. Set aside.
  3. Use mixer (on medium) to beat butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla.
  4. Turn mixer to low and add pumpkin. Slowly beat in flour mixture until dough forms. DO NOT OVERMIX!
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Use a medium cookie scoop (or a teaspoon) and drop scoops onto baking sheet, two inches apart.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges start to brown.
  8. Remove from oven, let cool.

Enjoy!

So many reasons to be grateful

So many reasons to be grateful

So, what makes you grateful? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving treat? What was your worst turkey day disaster? Please leave a comment. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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November 17, 2016

12 Thanksgiving Ideas that are Fun for Everyone

by Maria Schulz

Popcorn and toast, anyone?

Popcorn and toast, anyone?

Thanksgiving can be tricky. Sometimes, it’s a day when families catch up, laugh a lot, and enjoy their time together. Other times…not so much. There’s always a fun story about a drunken uncle, a bossy mother-in-law, or a whiney friend who sucks the life out of the party by telling everyone at the table about his recent bout with hemorrhoids or scabies.

Let me tell you about my latest illness

Let me tell you about my latest illness

Most people I know are NOT going to have the quintessential “Kennedy-esque” game of touch football on the front lawn while their giant turkey cooks to perfection. Come to think of it, the Kennedys probably weren’t even that happy to be together, touch football or no touch football.

We look just like the Kennedys

We look just like the Kennedys

Whether you’re off to a large gathering or just a small, intimate celebration, it’s always good to have ice breakers and conversation starters on hand. In that spirit, I thought I’d share a few ideas to keep your special day from going off the rails. Here are some of my suggestions.

Ready? Here we go...

Ready? Here we go…

Twelve Thanksgiving Games that are Fun for Everyone

  1. Take Bets. How long will it be before Grandma tells you how she worked 12 jobs at your age and you’re a lazy loser? How many male relatives will fall asleep with their pants undone while they snore in front of a football game on TV? How many lumps in Mom’s gravy? You get the idea.
Get your game on

Get your game on

  1. Break out the board games. That turkey is going to take a while. Why not get in a quick game of Life? Uno? Scattergories? Pictionary? Truth or Dare? Who’s Most Likely To? Never Have I Ever… (or Would You Rather… if there are kids around)? Cards Against Humanity? You can keep it clean for the kids and have lots of laughs.
  1. Set up a Group Pool/Prize. Yeah, maybe Aunt Sally couldn’t care less who’s playing football today. But I bet she’ll care if there’s money at stake, and it will keep people busy while you cook the turkey. You can also bet on the outcome of the Dog Show, a corny holiday movie, or murder mystery. $5 per person and the winner doesn’t have to help clean up.
While you deep fry your turkey

While you deep fry your turkey

  1. Play Telephone or the Minister’s Cat. Yes, these are oldies, but they’re always fun.
  1. Go outdoors between dinner and dessert. Play Bocce ball or Running Bases—adults and children alike can use some fresh air. Walk the dog while you’re at it. And yes, you can even channel your inner Kennedy and play a game of Touch Football.
Run off that turkey dinner

Run off that turkey dinner

  1. Stay inside. Play Wii bowling, football, or Olympics. Go on Playstation and play Walking Dead, Batman, Just Dance, or Dancing with the Stars.
You too can score a "10"

You too can score a “10”

  1. Use your cell phone and download the app for HeadsUp. It’s really just Charades, but you hold the phone up to your head so that everyone else can see the word, and the other people in the room try to give you clues about it. You have to guess before time is up. It’s quick, fun, and very addictive. Hint: if you don’t have a smartphone, you could just write words on cards and hold them up to your head while everyone else gives you clues. Sometimes old school is the right way to go.
  1. Play “Two Truths and One Lie.” Each person around the dinner table tells everyone two things that are true about him or her, as well as one lie. If someone guesses the lie, you take a shot (or eat vegetables, pie, etc.)
Are we having fun yet?

Are we having fun yet?

  1. Another great game is What If? This app comes with fun what if/but then scenarios that a person has to answer. The results are usually hilarious.
  1. Plan a TV or Movie Marathon! Choose a holiday themed comedy like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles to get everybody laughing (who doesn’t like John Candy?). Or, binge watch The Godfather Trilogy or Orange is the New Black together. Your call!
Those aren't pillows

Those aren’t pillows

  1. Put a slip of paper with a question on it underneath everyone’s plate. Before you pass the turkey, ask everyone to pull out the slip and, one by one, read and answer the question on it. Depending on the crowd, the questions could be, “What are you most thankful for?” “What are you least thankful for?” “Where did you spend your worst Thanksgiving (hopefully the answer isn’t your house).” “What was your first girlfriend’s name?” “What’s the most embarrassing thing you ever did?” “What was your worst job—and why?”
Better than a Magic 8 Ball

Better than a Magic 8 Ball

  1. Experience Your Own Version of Karaoke Madness. You know you want to unleash your inner Beyonce. Go ahead, make their day! But don’t take this one too seriously. It’s always better if you’re not very good.

Recipes:

Thanksgiving Appetizers

FNK Flat Content; 3-Ingredient Thanksgiving Appetizers; Opener

Let’s eat

Find everything from stuffed mushrooms and deviled eggs to ricotta stuffed bacon wrapped dates, spiced pecans, and goat cheese with fresh dill. It’s the perfect way to set the mood for a fun party that everyone will enjoy.

Cocktails!

What I'm Thankful For

What I’m Thankful For

If you want to do drinking games or just have some fun cocktails on Thanksgiving, check out these recipes on Food Network. There’s a Pumpkin Pie Martini, Bourbon Negroni, Apple Toddy, Cider Punch, and dozens more cocktail choices.

I've got a lot to be thankful for

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for

So, what are your family traditions on Thanksgiving? Do you eat and then crash on the couch until dessert is served? Watch the parade and dog show? Watch football games in between bites of turkey? Do a 5K Turkey Trot? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 12, 2015

Don’t Forget Thanksgiving

by Maria Schulz

Popcorn and toast, anyone?

Popcorn and toast, anyone?

I got my first email about Halloween in July. Costumes! Candy! Makeup! Decorations! There were so many things on sale, and the drumbeat never stopped. Buy, buy, buy! Since I don’t have little children anymore, it was easy to ignore the constant Halloween noise everywhere I turned.

Now that the day has passed, I am ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. I love this time of year, with harvest festivals, pumpkin picking, and hay rides. I like thinking about all of the things that I have in my life to be grateful for. 

I even like thinking about what I’ll cook on Thanksgiving morning, while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade blares in the background. Hi Snoopy! Hi Spongebob! There goes Big Bird! Is that 5 Seconds of Summer singing on a holiday float? Everybody, here comes Santa!

Papa Smurf!

Papa Smurf!

Except…we’ve launched right into Christmas. Toys! Decorations! Christmas TV shows! Christmas Carols! Santa! Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Man! Red coffee cups! Oh wait, we’re not happy about that. Deport the makers of red coffee cups!

We’ve skipped over Thanksgiving entirely. It’s as if we can’t wait to rush out the door and buy everything we can lay our hands on. I’ve been getting Black Friday emails from merchants since July. WHY WAIT? They ask me. Well, maybe because I will never remember where I put that holiday gift if I buy it 5 months in advance.

Wait! I'm not ready

Wait! I’m not ready

Don’t get me wrong; I love the Holiday season. My kids and I always enjoy singing holiday songs, whether it’s Dreidel, Dreidel or Silent Night. As a tight family unit, we all love pulling the Christmas tree down from the attic, taking out each ornament and talking about where we bought it, arranging the nativity scene and hanging up the stockings.

So maybe my tree isn't as big as this

So maybe my tree isn’t as big as this

Actually, I get really frustrated and can never get the Christmas lights to work, the kids tell me I’ve bought too many ornaments, and then they beg me to stop crying over the ornament with the picture of my old dog in it. Meanwhile, my husband is outside climbing up and down a ladder, pulling off burnt-out lights, smoldering in a Christmas-decorating-induced rage. Once it’s done we’re all really happy though. At least, I think we’re happy. I can’t tell, because my kids have disappeared hours beforehand, leaving me to finish the tree alone.

presents

Hold on though…we aren’t supposed to be in holiday mode yet! I can barely wrap my head around shopping for presents and wrapping them (ugh) on December 20th, let alone 5 months earlier. I will never be one of those people finished shopping for everyone on my list by December 1st. Instead, I am that lady in a panic on Christmas Eve, running out for one last gift.

I've got a lot to be thankful for

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for

But why do I have to start my shopping, decorating, or even THINKING about the crazy holiday season when I’m wearing a tank top or contemplating where to go apple picking? Don’t think I didn’t see those Christmas decorations behind the Halloween decorations. What if I want to put up a turkey on my front door? Not a real turkey, but a cardboard one (a real one would just be weird). 

Why aren’t there Pilgrim and Native American decorations? What about those cardboard turkeys that have “what I’m thankful for” items written on their feathers? What about Charlie Brown singing “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s House we go?”

Everybody loves roast turkey

Everybody loves roast turkey

I want my Thanksgiving moment! I want turkey, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and White Castle stuffing (okay, not very traditional, unless you’re from Bayside. Still). I want to play football on the front lawn even though I’m not a Kennedy. I want to watch March of the Wooden Soldiers while the turkey roasts! I want to think about all of the ways I’m lucky to live in this country of ours, with the people I love. I want to remember the people who have gone on to a better place, and no, I don’t mean New Jersey.

That's what Thanksgiving is all about, Charlie Brown

That’s what Thanksgiving is all about, Charlie Brown

What I don’t want to do is run over to whatever store is open on Thanksgiving Day and buy a cartful of Christmas gifts, while wondering why all of the salespeople look so sad. THEY ARE WORKING ON THANKSGIVING DAY! Duh.

Go old school! Stay home. Spend a few hours cooking whatever it is your family and/or friends will enjoy. Go traditional or go gluten-free, but whatever you do, just commit to it. Have one day when you actually slow down and enjoy the people around you. Turn your cell phone off!

Those aren't pillows

Those aren’t pillows

Talk to the people sitting there with you. Enjoy a meal together. Lay around and watch football or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles together. John Candy and Steve Martin always make Thanksgiving better! Afterwards, you can gather around the table for leftovers and dessert. Have your Camelot moment—go outside and play touch football together at halftime or at your own movie intermission. Who knows? You may just start enjoying Thanksgiving again.

We look just like the Kennedys

We look just like the Kennedys


Once the clock strikes midnight, you should all feel free to run off to your Black Friday lunacy. Enjoy! As a retail sales clerk from years gone by, I will gladly stay away. Man, do I love the internet.

Recipes:

http://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/10-pumpkin-recipes/view-all

Tiramisu; Photographer: Alison Miksch; Prop Stylist: Buffy Hargett-Miller; Food: Erin Merhar

Tiramisu; Photographer: Alison Miksch; Prop Stylist: Buffy Hargett-Miller; Food: Erin Merhar


Pumpkins! Try one of these fantastic Southern Living recipes that feature pumpkins as the star. There’s everything from Pumpkin Chiffon Pie and Pumpkin Tarts to classic Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Pecan Bread, and Beer-Battered Pumpkin with Dipping Sauce.

So, Hungry Lifers: what’s your favorite thing about Thanksgiving? What food do you look forward to having on Turkey Day? Would you rather go shopping? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Headlines

by Maria Schulz

The crowds at the supermarkets are in a frenzy…the parking lots are full…I can’t find the can of pumpkin pie I need…it’s starting to feel a lot like THANKSGIVING!

Popcorn and toast, anyone?

Popcorn and toast, anyone?

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The day when we gather around the town square, singing while holding hands, even though the Grinch just stole all our stuff. Oh wait, that’s Christmas. Never mind.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the same headlines come out on or around Thanksgiving every year. Here are the ones that I see without fail in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, or on the sorry morning after.

hurricane sandy

  1. Weather Alert: A major storm is about to hit!

That’s right: whether you live in the Northeast corridor, southern states, middle of the country or out west, there will probably be snow, rain, hail, a cold snap, high winds, or unseasonably warm temperatures. Which means, of course, that Mother Nature just doesn’t give a hoot about Thanksgiving, and may just be un-American.

  1. More People Than Ever are Travelling This Thanksgiving:

Approximately 50 million people will be in their cars or on a plane, driving or flying to spend time with family. The journalists will gather up a bunch of people to interview and show us lots of long lines at the airports or bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highways. Look at all of them! They are exhausted, harried, and full of regret. Which is exactly how they’ll look in a couple of days on the return trip home.

Don't let this happen to you

Don’t let this happen to you

  1. Man Blows Up House While Deep Frying Thanksgiving Turkey

Is it really necessary to deep fry an entire turkey? When did roasting the turkey fall out of favor? Watch for this news item to break by Thursday night or Friday morning. There’s always someone who pours a week’s worth of oil into the fryer and then leaves it unattended…and is somehow surprised when it blows up.

  1. Average American will eat 4500 calories at Thanksgiving dinner

That is, unless they’re also drinking. Then the calorie count soars to 6000…FOR ONE MEAL! If you’ve ever counted calories, this is the equivalent of 3 or 4 entire days worth of meals. But who stops at dinner? What about that 11 pm raid on the fridge that includes a turkey sandwich and a hunk of pie? My family (like most families) is not like the Kennedy’s at Hyannisport, playing football together after dinner. We’re gearing up for the next feeding.

Not us.

Not us.

  1. Average American Gains 5 pounds during Holiday Season

I think a French woman who is busy walking around Paris all day, wearing her designer clothing, eating goat cheese and grapes, drinking Champagne, and never getting fat, probably thought up this headline. Fat people don’t only live here in America. Send me to France, and I promise I will find you at least 5 of them. It’s the goat cheese, people!

  1. Turducken Is Still A Sensation On The Thanksgiving Table

A chicken, duck, and turkey walked into a bar…and ended up a Turducken. I hear this combo, when done right, is delicious. But it seems like another instance of gilding the lily. Do I really need to eat 3 different birds in order to give thanks? Can my fryer—and 10 gallons of oil—really handle this?

Um...wow

Um…wow

  1. Cherpumple is Latest Dessert to Hit Thanksgiving Tables

Just when you thought we couldn’t figure out another way to make pigs of ourselves (wait…is there a Pigturducken in our future?), here comes the Cherpumple. This concoction is a three-layer cake with an entire pie baked into each layer — a cherry pie baked inside a white cake, a pumpkin pie baked inside a yellow cake, and an apple pie baked inside a spice cake, covered with cream-cheese frosting. The creator of this King Kong of pies says that there are a lot of ways for this dessert to go wrong. Wow, I can’t wait to try it. I have a hard enough time getting one pie to come out right, forget about 3 pies baked within cakes and stacked all together.

  1. President Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey

So…after making poor Tom sweat it out in the days leading up to his Thanksgiving Day pardon, does the President think this is enough? I think he should give Tom the Turkey a job. Maybe he should be declared the leader of the House or the newest member of the Supreme Court. He’ll fit right in!

And you thought you were having a bad day

And you thought you were having a bad day

  1. Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt’s Mother Spend Thanksgiving Together

The tabloids have been dying for Brad Pitt to stand up and say: I MADE A MISTAKE! I WANT JENNIFER BACK! This despite the fact that he’s been with Angelina Jolie for 100 years now, and they have approximately the same number of children together. Plus, Jennifer Aniston is (reportedly) going to marry Justin Somebody and have 12 kids of her own, even though she may be 75 by the time this all happens. Listen, if Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt’s mother are friends and share some turkey together, good for them. They obviously have a more enduring relationship than Jennifer and Brad ever did. P.S. WHO CARES?

  1. Carbohydrate Coma Well Established Phenomena

What came first: the turkey, or the carb coma? Is it the tryptophan in the turkey that causes you to want to lie on the couch and watch all that football? Or maybe it’s the stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, biscuits, gravy, and twelve different pies you shoveled into your face, in addition to the 3 bottles of wine? Nah, it’s probably just the turkey.

Keep Papa close

Keep your enemies close and Papa Smurf closer

  1. Papa Smurf Feels Up Parade-Goer at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Folks, if Mother Nature wants to crank up the ol’ wind machine on Thanksgiving Day, maybe they should ground Papa Smurf, not to mention all of the other balloons too. If 50 Macy’s employees have to tether themselves to ropes and hold Papa about 2 feet off the ground, what’s the point? On the flip side, letting Papa run wild and free could have some unintended consequences, especially when he decides to bust a move.

  1. Stampede At [INSERT NAME HERE] –Mart

Do we really need to have stores open on Thanksgiving Day? Yes, I know that greed and saving 99 cents are ingrained in every American’s psyche, but is the desire to get trampled to death also a core American right? What about the poor people who have to work these days?

My heroes

My heroes

I worked in retail a hundred years ago, and I never realized that those conditions would now be considered the glory days. You were off on a national holiday because the store was CLOSED. We got to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with our families, lay on the couch in a carb coma, and watch a million hours of football and The March of the Wooden Soldiers, just like God and the Founding Fathers intended. Then, we got up the next morning and were ready to meet the crazed crowds on Black Friday.

Because as Linus might say, “that’s what Thanksgiving Day is really all about, Charlie Brown.”

Recipe:

Cherpumple

Try it, if you dare.

As much fun as Turducken and Cherpumple

As much fun as Turducken and Cherpumple

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

This recipe was a winner on Cupcake Wars and has gotten rave reviews.

So, what’s your favorite Thanksgiving headline? Do you think Brad and Jenn will ever get back together again? Are you ready for Cherpumple? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

November 27, 2013

Thankful Things

by Maria Schulz

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Yes, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. What this means for everyone is that they’re supposed to think about all of the things they’re thankful for in their lives. However, this day before Thanksgiving means different things to different people, depending on how old you are. For example, if you’re a school-aged child, it means:

1) You will have to write an essay called “What I’m Thankful For”

2) If you are under 10, you will probably be wearing a pilgrim’s hat or a feather on your head

Fashionable thanksgiving attire

Fashionable Thanksgiving attire

3) You’ll be eating pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin cookies, and possibly turning orange, at your classroom’s Thanksgiving Party

4) You will take a quiz called, “Which food was at the first Thanksgiving Day feast?” Hint: Turkey might not have been on the menu.

5) You will be asked to put your hand on a piece of paper, trace around it, and make your own turkey decoration/centerpiece

Many of these things can also apply to grown-ups. For instance, if you work outside of your home, you may find:

1) The office cafeteria will serve turkey, cranberries, mashed potatoes and stuffing with gravy for lunch. Which makes no sense, because you’ll be having all of that tomorrow

2) You may be asked to write a report titled, “What I’m Thankful For”

3) Your co-workers will be wearing a pilgrim’s hat or a feather on their heads, but if you work in a creative environment, that’s probably true every other day of the year

Good all year long

Good all year long

4) You will gorge yourself on pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin cookies, and possibly turn orange

5) You will take an online quiz called: “Which food was at the Thanksgiving Day feast?” and get mad when your answer, turkey, is wrong. Then you’ll trace your hand and make your own turkey to help you feel better about things

Get tracing

Get tracing

Turning orange and failing online quizzes aside, here are a few things I’m really thankful for this year:

Winners!

Winners!

  • Amber Riley won Dancing With The Stars, and I called it. This may not mean much to 99.9% of the world, but it gives me bragging rights in my little DWTS fan club, which very often, consists of my dog and me. Unless she’s tired, and then it’s a party of one
  • I found my Planes, Trains and Automobiles DVD in time for this holiday, instead of on January 2nd like I did last year. Now I get to be infuriated, delighted and heart-warmed (not wormed) by Steve Martin and John Candy all over again. It’s beginning to look a lot like Thanksgiving
Those aren't pillows

Those aren’t pillows

  • While I may have to push back the publication date of my book by a week or so, the manuscript is done and so it should be seeing the light of day very shortly. So yes, Virginia, there is going to be a Tales of a Hungry Life: A Memoir with Recipes book at an Amazon store near you
So glad this isn't me

So glad this isn’t me

  • The song “It’s Raining Men” is going through my head, because it’s raining so hard outside right now that it sounds like there are actually large men hitting the house. So why am I thankful? Because it’s not snowing so hard I might see Polar Bears walking by soon
  • Being a wife and mom is a lot of work. There are days I just want to curl up in a ball, eat bon bons, and catch up on TV shows I missed completely (anyone for a Breaking Bad marathon?). But then, I look at my husband or gaze into my kids’ faces, and I realize that it’s all going so fast, that I’m lucky to be here, and it really is exciting and fun. I’m so glad I got to go on this ride, even if it does leave me dizzy and nauseous sometimes
  • I managed to do all of my Thanksgiving shopping without having a total nervous breakdown. Also, I no longer need to get a goat because I have enough milk and cheese to get me through the next two days

    Wait…no goat?

    Wait…no goat?

  • I survived the 2 day, 4 hour filler-fest that is the Dancing With The Stars finale, and I even got to see Bill Engvall and his partner, Emma Slater, make it all the way to the finals. They did a free style! He never expected to get past Week 2! They are friends for life! If you didn’t believe in miracles before, how can you not believe in them now?

    ©ABC images

    ©ABC images

  • My book club continues to recommend books that make me think and help me become a better writer. Plus everyone always brings the best salads (yes, I do actually eat salad on occasion), cakes, cookies, breads, wine and cheese. Here’s a book we just read that I recommend highly.

    Great book

    Great book

  • My blog. Yes, I panic every Tuesday because I pledged to write a post every Wednesday for the rest of this year, and I have no idea what I’m going to write about until I sit down and do it. But as much as I complain about it, I thoroughly enjoy it. No, I might never be famous or get invited to be a contestant on Dancing With The Stars (now that would be terrifying), but I do get the pleasure of writing for all of the people who are kind enough to drop by every week. And for that, I’m really thankful.
  • I am so grateful for the people who made me the person I am, but who aren’t here anymore. I’d like to say they’re off in Rio de Janeiro dancing and eating and having a great time, because then I could call them or visit them. But no, I’m talking about gone, as in gone and never coming back because they’ve moved on to the next life.
    Uncle Don and Maria in the 80s

    Uncle Don and Maria in the 80s

    My Uncle Don was someone who always made me laugh, and I’m very grateful to have had him in my life. Remembering him on these holidays makes me smile, and helps me appreciate the family and friends that are still here with me (and who haven’t run away to Rio de Janeiro). So I’m grateful for everything he gave me, and still gives me to this day.

  • Finally, in a world that’s filled with natural disasters, heartbreak, and bad things happening to good people, sometimes life gives a little something back. Here’s a story that made me feel very thankful: Heartwarming Reunion: Illinois Tornado Survivor Finds His Missing Dog Buried Alive Under Rubble – weather.com

http://www.weather.com/tv/tvshows/i-am-unstoppable/man-finds-missing-dog-illinois-tornado-rubble-20131118?cm_ven=Email&cm_cat=article_share

Thankful

Thankful

Recipe:

Corn Pudding

My friend, Joanie, tried this recipe and said her son told her it was “the best side dish” he’d ever had. So, if you’re looking for something a little different to try with your traditional Thanksgiving day meal, this one looks easy and delicious.

Great Thanksgiving side

Great Thanksgiving side

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/thanksgiving-corn-pudding/

So, Hungry Lifers: what are you thankful for? Do you want to be a Dancing With the Stars contestant? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 20, 2013

Here Comes Thanksgiving

by Maria Schulz

I've got a lot to be thankful for

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for

Thanksgiving is a time when we are all supposed to think about the many things we are absolutely, without a doubt, grateful to have in our lives. Believe me, I have many things to put on my “What I’m Grateful for this Thanksgiving” list. But there are some other things I feel compelled to consider as Thanksgiving barrels down upon us. So here are my:

8 Ways to Avoid Stress This Thanksgiving

1. Thanksgiving shoppers: out of the pool. Grocery shopping is already a pain, but add in Thanksgiving and suddenly it becomes the 7th ring of hell. On a normal day, you can run into the store and get a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread in under 5 minutes. But in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, you have to run through the store with your head lowered and your elbows out  just to get to the dairy aisle.

Now that everyone is out buying turkey and all the fixin’s, it takes forever to get out of the store, let alone the parking lot. I say there should be a “non-Thanksgiving shoppers” time slot every hour, sort of like adult swim–when anyone under 18 gets tossed out of the pool, only in this instance, it’s anyone who is buying 1200 Thanksgiving ingredients. That way, I can get my everyday staples AND buy about 7 gallons of milk and 7 loaves of bread right now and forget about going to the market until after the holiday passes.

Heidi

Or, I could make believe I’m Heidi and bake bread and adopt a goat to get my milk and cheese until this week is over. Luckily, I have lots of tin cans and old newspapers the goat can eat, and a lawn that needs mowing. I hope the goat likes leaves. I’ve got lots of them.

Sound good? Maybe you should get a goat too.

Wouldn't you like a goat too?

Wouldn’t you like a goat too?

2. Eat, turkey, eat! Did you hear that one of the giant poultry manufacturers announced a possible turkey shortage due to the fact that their poultry is seriously underweight this year? Now, I have some questions for them: Why are your turkeys so skinny? Do they follow a no-carb diet? Do they run marathons? Are they supermodels?

Also, if you know that Thanksgiving is coming and you count on “Turkey Day” to make tons of money, why didn’t you start fattening your birds up over the summer? I think that manufacturer should immediately send those turkeys to my house. They will probably gain 5 pounds just by sitting on the couch next to me while watching the Knicks play really bad basketball. Also, they can keep my goat company.

If worse comes to worst, I will just fire up the old popcorn maker and create a Thanksgiving feast ala Snoopy and the Peanuts gang in “Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown.”

Popcorn and toast, anyone?

Popcorn and toast, anyone?

When I first heard about the possible turkey shortage, I started to panic…but then I realized I am not even making a turkey this year. But even if I was, another poultry manufacturer announced that they have plenty of turkeys and they expect to fully meet customer demand.

Whew. I feel better already.

3. Fully enjoy this holiday before you get caught up in the insanity that comes with the next one. Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet, and I heard Christmas music on my radio the other day. That’s right: songs that demand I start rocking around the Christmas tree and building snowmen SHOULD NOT BE ON YET.

I had barely enough time to put away my grim reaper and skull decorations, finish my two baskets of Halloween candy, and scream at Sally not to wait with Linus in the Pumpkin Patch because there is no Great Pumpkin before I started seeing ads for Christmas movies and Black Friday shopping specials.

I'm not ready for you yet

I’m not ready for you yet

I can’t even buy a couple of gallons of milk and some bread ahead of time. What makes the world think I’m ready for Christmas when I haven’t even had my (too skinny) turkey dinner?

4. Inventory your pantry and cupboards so you have all the ingredients you need for Thanksgiving. And then, map out the route to the nearest open store on Thanksgiving morning, because dollars to donuts, you will have forgotten something that someone on your invitation list will feel they cannot live without at your holiday dinner.

This has happened to me many times. It’s caused me to wake up in the middle of the night in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, crying out I FORGOT THE CRANBERRIES! Or “I DON’T HAVE ANY DECAF AND MY MOTHER-IN-LAW ONLY DRINKS DECAF!”

This may be a good time to consider making reservations instead. Or possibly, getting yourself into therapy. And when I say you, I mean me.

5. Remember that your family members are your team: don’t feel afraid to ask for their help. That’s right, folks. Invite your kids into the kitchen to help you prep the giant, skinny turkey at 5 am, eat pumpkin bread fresh and hot from the oven, and laugh together while you sing Kumbaya.

Kumbaya

Kumbaya

No, wait…that was a commercial I saw last year for pumpkin bread. What will really happen is that the members of your team will refuse to get out of bed before noon, at which point you will already be up for 7 hours because the last skinny turkey you found on the shelf had to go into the oven at the crack of dawn.

You will have made about 50 different side dishes and 3 pies by this time. You also have pumpkin bread, but your family hates pumpkin bread. Worst of all, none of your kids even rolled over when you burst into their rooms, screaming, “SANTA IS ABOUT TO RIDE HIS SLEIGH INTO HERALD SQUARE! GET UP! GET UP!”

Here comes Santa Claus

Here comes Santa Claus

You just might have to wave at Santa Claus by yourself this year.

6. Don’t buy the regular pumpkin in the big orange can; buy the pumpkin pie mix in the identical big orange can. This is an easy mistake to make, but it will lead to dire consequences. Your pumpkin pie may come out really, really bad because you thought you had the can with all the ingredients in it. Of course, this will lead the earth to spin off its axis and we will all die a horrible death as a result.

No, wait. None of that will actually happen. You’ll just have a pie that requires a little more work to make it taste good, which may be just as horrific, since who has time for that?

Buy this can. Save the world.

Buy this can. Save the world.

We never ate pumpkin pie in my parents’ house. I realize now that when my mother said, “You don’t like pumpkin pie” she meant, “I don’t like pumpkin pie.” Anything my mother didn’t like DID NOT get made.

I can’t say I blame her. She had to cook for up to 20 people (and that was a small crowd) and make alternate dishes for my grandmother and great uncle (who hated cheese), plus make a pasta dish, the turkey, side dishes, desserts, plus breakfast and dinner for that same grandmother and great uncle, who came at dawn and left at midnight.

My husband and his family DO like pumpkin pie, so I’ve been making it for decades. I even like it now. Although when my kids ask me why there’s no pecan pie, I say: “You don’t like pecan pie.”

7. Priorities, priorities, priorities. Wash every piece of fine china you own and then polish your silver. Hand-wash your fine crystal until it gleams. Then iron your finest tablecloth and all of the matching napkins. Run outside to gather some leaves, pinecones, and twigs, and use your glue gun to create a masterful centerpiece.

Oooh…shiny

Oooh…shiny

Spend days dusting, vacuuming, moving furniture to clean behind and spray everything with cleaner until it’s so sparkly, it hurts your eyes to look at it. Then, when you’re just about on the verge of a total nervous breakdown, start cooking your 12-course Thanksgiving meal while shooting your wife or husband dirty looks because they never do anything.

If this is the only way you can enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, by all means–go for it.

Or, better yet, remember that you are not Martha Stewart, and stop by the party goods store. Buy plates, cups, silverware, vinyl tablecloths, a festive paper tablecloth to go over the vinyl one, and a paper turkey centerpiece (make sure he’s not too skinny). Decorate the table like you are five and aren’t responsible enough to use the good china or crystal.

No twigs required

No twigs required

Clean your home just well enough that it doesn’t look like a deranged vagrant lives there. Cook a meal that hits all the holiday favorites, but doesn’t go completely overboard.

When everyone is done eating your basic turkey, vegetables, sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping diner and pumpkin pie dessert feast, and you’ve cleared away the leftovers, you and your spouse can make the clean-up part of your celebration fast and easy.

How? First, you and your spouse should grab the two corners of the tablecloth on opposite ends of the table. Next: run towards each other. After that: clasp hands and tablecloth corners. And finally: bundle the whole thing up and throw it in the garbage.

Like this, but with garbage

Like this, but with garbage

See? I just saved you a whole week’s worth of backbreaking work, angry words, and hurt feelings when one or both spouses think the other one never does anything.

You’re welcome.

8. Actually call the people on your invitation list. Yes, Aunt Sally may have been coming to your house since the days when animals got on Noah’s Ark in pairs, but that doesn’t mean she will come this year. Why? Perhaps it’s because she made other plans since you never invited her.

Run, Aunt Sally! Run!

Run, Aunt Sally! Run!

I know it’s almost unfathomable to think of Aunt Sally as someone with a social life and options beyond your house on Thanksgiving, but stranger things happen. Maybe the other 364 days of the year, Aunt Sally passes her days by running with the bulls in Spain, teaching chimpanzees how to handle a pistol, or bowling for dollars.

Is this how you do it, Aunt Sally?

Is this how you do it, Aunt Sally?

Or maybe she does nothing but sit in her tiny house and watch Revenge, Homeland, Breaking Bad and Murder She Wrote re-runs. It’s hard to say.

In any event, you should go ahead and call people. Extend the invitation, even if you figure they’ll be coming over anyway. You’ll get to have a quick chat and let the other person know that you really want them at your house this Thanksgiving.

Just make sure to ask if they’re allergic to goats.

Recipe:

Best Ever Pumpkin Pie

Best Ever.

Best Ever.

Even though my mother didn’t like pumpkin pie, I sure do. So here’s a recipe for the Best Ever Pumpkin Pie. This one got lots of good reviews—and it looks pretty easy too.

http://www.food.com/recipe/best-ever-pumpkin-pie-28758

So, Hungry Lifers: what’s your least favorite part about prepping for Thanksgiving? Did you get your turkey yet? Is Aunt Sally coming over this Thanksgiving? Please leave a comment below and let us all know. Thanks!

November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

By Maria Lagalante Schulz

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is here again. As the year rolls by, I’m reminded about all of the things that I have in my life to be thankful for. Everyone knows that they’re supposed to say “I’m most thankful for my family/friends/job/house/food on the table,” etc. Let’s just say that’s a given where I’m concerned. I don’t need a holiday where you stuff your face to remind me that I have been really blessed, although I’m glad that’s the national activity.

I've got a lot to be thankful for

So here are the Top Ten Things I’m Grateful for This Thanksgiving:

10. Occupy Wall Street has been allowed to protest

Our rights in action

 

Whether you embrace or reject this movement’s tenets and ideals, you have to be proud of our country. Our rights to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly have been on display, and the people who hold all the cards—the money, the access to cronies in government, and oh yeah, the money—didn’t use their power to have everyone shot.  Not every country is so lucky. For all those people who grumble that the protesters should just shut up or go away, remember this: our country was founded by people who were willing to fight for the very rights that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are exercising today.

 

 

9. Dancing With the Stars is on again, and a former Veteran who almost lost his life fighting for our country is the best dancer on the floor

If you’re anything like me, you may feel pretty down some days because you don’t look your best or you feel crummy. So here comes J.R. Martinez, a young veteran who suffered severe smoke inhalation, horrendous burns over 40% of his body, and endured 33 surgeries after he drove over a landmine in Iraq.

But does he whine or complain, or talk about how the dancing bothers his old injuries? No, never. He gets out there with his dance partner, Karina, and dances his heart out. He is the most positive, beautiful person on that dance floor—and what makes it even better is the dude can dance. The finals are this week, and while I hope he beats out Ricki Lake and Rob Kardashian, I will find him inspiring either way for a long time to come.

8. No matter how much turmoil and strife there is out there, life is always beautiful at Disney World

The happiest place on earth

 

Everyone’s dancing and singing, fireworks go off constantly, and life’s a parade at Walt Disney World. You can raise a glass and sing along with the Oompah Band in Germany or learn how to belly dance in Morocco in Epcot’s World Showcase. Lilo and Stitch can’t wait to hug you, Goofy is on hand for some laughs, and Mickey Mouse is thrilled to see you! Of course, as my husband says, Mickey’s favorite game is “open your wallet and leave all the cash here,” but it’s still the happiest place on earth, as long as you keep the visit short enough.

 

 

7. Sister Margaret is not my 7th grade teacher any more

I failed to appreciate the beauty of having a psycho as my homeroom teacher, but let me tell you, it was all good stuff. When I was suffering through her arbitrary and unfounded hatred, I had no idea that I was gaining life skills that would serve me well throughout adulthood.

Back when I was young, I really liked almost everyone I went to school with. We were a small group who seemed to be in a world of pain, but we were in it together. Sister Margaret gave us tremendous material to use, and laugh about, for years to come. I now understand that she was a lonely person who lived with a lot of regrets, and she took that out on us.

I try to be compassionate to the other “Sister Margarets” in my life today. I also try to get a lot of material out of them for future laughs.

6. Writing is still the thing that I love to do

When I first realized that I was going to be a writer some day, I had a cheerleader in my life named Mr. Reines who would say, “you’re going to do great things!” He imagined me becoming the next Anne Tyler; published by the time I was 24 and taking the world by storm. Well, Mr. Reines is long gone, and so is my chance to get published by 24. But that’s okay. Even if I never go on to write a bestseller or the great American novel, I write because I love it and it makes me happy. Maybe I won’t be the next Anne Tyler. But I can still be the next Grandma Moses.

5. Sometimes, real love shows itself in the worst situations

Yes, it’s fun to watch romantic comedies and remember that feeling of falling in love. But everyone knows that feeling doesn’t last. It’s great to begin with, but you have to build something more substantial.

Real love shows itself when you care for someone who is sick or vulnerable and you pay more attention to his comfort and feelings then you do to your own. It shows its face when someone you love gets snubbed by friends or gets their heart broken, and you feel the pain along with them.

The movie “Yours, Mine and Ours” starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda explains this concept perfectly. In one of the final scenes, the mom’s daughter is thinking of sleeping with her boyfriend and the Dad is struggling to get the mom to the hospital to have her millionth baby.

This family makes mine seem small

Colleen North: [Helen is in labor and they’re trying to get her out the door and to the hospital] I know this is a terrible time to talk about it, but Larry says…
Frank Beardsley: I’ve got a message for Larry. You tell him this is what it’s all about. This is the real happening. If you want to know what love really is, take a look around you.
Helen North: What are you two talking about?
Frank Beardsley: Take a good look at your mother.
Helen North: Not now!
Frank Beardsley: Yes, now.
[To Colleen]
Frank Beardsley: It’s giving life that counts. Until you’re ready for it, all the rest is just a big fraud. All the crazy haircuts in the world won’t keep it turning. Life isn’t a love in, it’s the dishes and the orthodontist and the shoe repairman and ground round instead of roast beef. And I’ll tell you something else: it isn’t going to a bed with a man that proves you’re in love with him; it’s getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful everyday world with him that counts.
[Leaving the house, they say good-bye to the little kids]
Frank Beardsley: I suppose having 19 kids is carrying it a bit too far, but if we had it to do over who would we skip… you?
Helen North: [getting into the car] Thank you, Frank. I never quite knew how to explain it to her.
Frank Beardsley: If we don’t get you to the hospital fast, the rest of it’s going to be explained right here!

I’m so grateful that I have someone by my side to face the drab, miserable, wonderful world.

4. Friends who have always made my life an adventure

When I was six years old, I was facing life for the first time without my twin brother beside me. Of course, he was right next-door, but I was terrified that I wouldn’t make any friends without him and his charming, funny self there beside me.

I remember the first time I saw Perette Murphy. She had pigtails, a perpetual smile on her face, and a ready laugh. I remember thinking that I would like to be friends with her, and lucky me, we became friends during the school year.

Perette would bring me home to her house, where her three sisters did a lot of yelling, crying, and screaming. Life with four girls was so different then life with six boys. For one thing, my brothers never cried. To start crying in their presence would have been like jumping into shark-infested waters holding a bucket full of chum.

The Murphy girls could cut you to ribbons with one sidelong glance and a comment about how fat or ugly you were. My brothers could be mean, but one minute, they were hitting you in the head and the next, they were laughing at your jokes. Perette’s sisters seemed to get angry and hold grudges, and they confused me.

Perette and her sisters were the ones who taught me how to hold my own in an entirely new situation, and how to even enjoy myself there. And several decades later, I’m still so thankful to be friends with that little pig-tailed girl.

3. Thanksgiving may get the bum’s rush, but I love celebrating it anyway

The big retail chains out there can’t wait to rush headlong into Christmas. I have been getting Black Friday offers since July, and when I was in Party City the week before Halloween, they had the Christmas displays ready to unveil—and that was October 20!

I refuse to let Thanksgiving pass me by without observing some traditions that I thoroughly enjoy. I love watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and still get excited when I see it advertised, even though I’ve had the DVD for years. Peppermint Patty reminds me of a lot of people I’ve known over the years, especially when she invites herself over for dinner and then complains about the menu. Hey, I think she has been to my house on Thanksgiving!

Popcorn and toast, anyone?

This time out, it’s Marci who plays the wise old soul (doing an admirable, Linus-like job) when she reminds Peppermint Patty that she invited herself, and owes Charlie Brown an apology. I think Marci is the best, even if she doesn’t seem to have eyeballs.

My husband, girls and I also love watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. I loved John Candy from back in his SCTV days, and he never fails to crack me up. The fact that he’s teamed up with Steve Martin, who I loved from the day he wore that headdress and sang “King Tut” on Saturday Night Live, means guaranteed laughs.

Who's been sleeping in my bed?

As annoying as John Candy’s character may be, I can’t help but like him. I enjoy Steve Martin’s straight man routine and find every ridiculous situation that they plunge into completely hysterical. My favorite quote from the movie is: “Those aren’t pillows!”

If I’m very lucky, I catch The March of the Wooden Soldiers on television the morning of Thanksgiving. I love Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy; their timing is hilarious and they still make me laugh like it’s the first time I’m watching that movie. I also loved Stan Laurel because he reminded me of my Great-Uncle Sal; he was quiet and contemplative, but had some of the best lines in the movie. You could always count on Uncle Sal to come out with jokes well worth waiting for at the Thanksgiving table.

Finally, I love watching The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. While I cook and bake, I watch the parade go by, keeping track of the floats and the imminent arrival of “the big guy.”

My father used to tell me to go downstairs and bring up my brother Jude to watch Santa’s arrival in Herald Square. Many years, I risked death at Jude’s hands because he was usually sleeping his big night off and was in no mood to see Santa, or any other living creature. Jude knew enough to come up, though, because if he didn’t, my father might just bang pots next to his head until he changed his mind.

2. I understand the importance of being prepared

When I was a little girl, Thanksgiving started in earnest for us about 4 days ahead of time. That’s when my mother would start cleaning, and I’d be sent out to the living room to dust the shelves, mantel and furniture, vacuum the carpets with baking soda, put away the piles and piles of paper that a house full of pack rats always accumulates, clean the bathrooms and start setting the table. Our one goal was to hear my grandmother come through the door and say, “Wow! The house looks so clean and doesn’t smell doggie.” That was the prize.

On the night before Thanksgiving, Mom and I would use a recipe we had from one of my Charlie Brown cookbooks and bake homemade bread. We’d make the dough and set it in bowls with a damp paper towel over it so that it would rise overnight.

So good

The next morning, I’d hear Mom get up while it was still dark to put the 20+ pound turkey in the oven. I’d come out to join her by about 7 am, when we would knead the dough and set it to rise. My mother would pull a tray of lasagna out of the fridge and we’d put that in the oven too. Then we’d baste the turkey, start making the sides, bake cakes and pies, and finally bake the bread.

The house smelled like bread, roasting meat, and lasagna, with an added layer of cakes, cookies and pies.

As the morning wore on, my father would run into the kitchen and yell, “Maria, Santa Claus is almost here! Go wake up Jude.”

See above.

1. I know who I’d invite to my Thanksgiving dinner

For me, Thanksgiving was always the holiday that meant family and friends around a great big dining room table, lots of loud arguments and laughter, and my mother’s wonderful cooking.

I can still see my Uncle Don carving the turkey, because my father had a knack of hacking it to bits. My grandmother would be laughing herself to tears over some story that Uncle Sal was telling from his vaudeville days. My mother would be running back and forth to the kitchen and then, finally, sitting down to join us.

My father, mother and brothers were shouting over one another, telling stories about their jobs, the gigs at nightclubs with New York’s Unemployed, and school. My grandmother would tell us about life as the president of her Senior Citizens Group and Uncle Don would describe how much he hated helping women try on shoes. Chris and I would jump in with our own stories about St. Robert’s or our favorite TV shows, like Barney Miller, All in the Family, or Dallas.

Sometimes, my parents would also include friends who didn’t have a place to go on Thanksgiving. Then, we’d add a second or third table that stretched out into the living room, and the noise level rivaled that of a jumbo jet. Ten different conversations were going on, and all of them were funny. I can still hear my Uncle Don laughing today.

Uncle Don, laughing

I wish sometimes that my girls and husband could come with me to Thanksgiving back when I was a kid. The table was cramped and you could barely move, but the food was wonderful, the conversation was rollicking and everybody seemed to be having a good time.

It’s hard for me to believe that my kids never knew my Uncle Sal, and don’t really have enough happy memories of my grandmother, Uncle Don, or my mother. They are so much a part of me that it seems like we should all be able to sit down together and share a Thanksgiving celebration.

I feel like my little family has missed out. But then I realize that my girls are lucky to have lots of first cousins, aunts and uncles on both sides, and we get to see them all over the Holidays. I hope one day they will be able to remember them all laughing and having a wonderful time.

And that’s what Thanksgiving is really all about, Charlie Brown.

Recipe

My Charlie Brown Lunch Bag Cookbook has a very simple bread recipe that my mother and I used to break out every year. Go ahead and try it—you’ll like it!

This bread is delicious

All-Star White Bread

1 package dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

1-cup milk

1-cup water

3 tablespoons butter

5 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

6 ½ cups white flour

Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup warm water. Warm milk, 1-cup water, and butter together. Put into large mixing bowl. Add sugar and salt. Mix well. Add yeast (if the milk mixture is hot, allow it to cool before adding yeast). Add flour slowly, stirring constantly. Knead dough for 10 minutes. Set aside in a greased bowl in a warm place. Turn dough so all sides are greased. Cover bowl with a damp cloth. Let rise 1 ½ hours or until double in bulk. Punch down and knead for several minutes. Shape into 3 loaves and place in greased pans. Allow to rise until double in bulk. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and continue to bake for 35-45 minutes.

So hungry lifers…what are you most grateful for this Thanksgiving? Do you have a funny Thanksgiving memory to share? Post a comment below and let us all in on the fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!