Gearing Up for Thanksgiving

It’s hard for me to think about the fact that Christmas is a little over a month away right now because we’ve been enjoying some crazy-good weather here in Iowa over the past few weeks. Seriously, 70 degrees in November? Usually we’re scraping our windows already, and I haven’t even been wearing a jacket lately! (Of course, that’s because I am too cool for coats; me and all my middle school friends.)

However, in less than two weeks we will be gorging ourselves on turkey and stuffing, so whether we like it or not, Thanksgiving is coming, and once it’s gone, Christmas will be breathing down our necks.

I have never had to host a Thanksgiving dinner, which is something everyone in my family can be thankful for. Nearly every year we drive 20 miles to my aunt and uncle’s house, where we spend the day with my dad’s family, most of whom we won’t see again until next Thanksgiving.

I’m usually nervous when we first arrive, not having chatted with most of my cousins for a year. However, Facebook has allowed many of us to stay in touch this year (or at least know what kind of crops we’re raising on Farmville), so it should cut that “awkward small talk” time when you’re trying to catch up your brain on how many kids she has (or if she has ANY kids yet), if he’s still married, or if Little Joe is still in diapers or is attending the University of Iowa.

Then there‘s the food annual ping-pong tournament. The suspense of who’s going to draw my mom’s name (AKA “an automatic bid to the next round”), who’s going to play Boy #3 (better bring a helmet), and if it’s going to be my brother-in-law Chad, my cousin Karen, or her husband Mark (I think their mutual love for ping-pong is what drew them together) who will claim the coveted trophy (And yes, there really is a trophy).

We can’t forget the food kids. It used to be us cousins making up skits, singing the “Diarrhea” song (Don’t ask me why this is one of my few clear memories), or playing rounds of Uno. Now we get to eat visit while our kids play football together, jump on the trampoline, and make up their own skits (that hopefully don’t involve the “Diarrhea” song).

Let’s see, what have I forgotten? Oh, yes, the food! Yeah, it’s okay…

Please. I dream about the food in anticipation for weeks ahead of time, and I dream about it in remembrance for weeks to follow. So. Much. Food. All of the traditional Thanksgiving fare, with the occasional “exotic” concoction thrown in there, usually by my mom, such as Strawberry Salsa, Poor Man’s Caviar, or “Something I Just Made Up.” (Fortunately for Mom, it’s always a hit.)

And I always leave my aunt and uncle’s house with a touch of the stomach cramps but also with a feeling of true thankfulness in my heart for a family that can gather, laugh, and love, even when separated by many months and miles.

Thinking about your Thanksgiving? Here are some coupons and freebies to help you plan the best Thanksgiving yet:
$2/1 Butterball Turkey coupon (Thanks Money Saving Mom!)
FREE Martha Stewart’s Thanksgiving Hotline Cookbook (Thanks Deal Seeking Mom!)
FREE Taste of Home Thanksgiving issue (Thanks Deal Seeking Mom!)
FREE Download of a CMA-Nominated Song from to listen to while you’re cooking (Thanks again, Deal Seeking Mom!)

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