The costumes and jack-o-lanterns are all tucked away and it’s time to place the cornucopias on the table. We have moved from hungry little hands looking for candy into a month of gratitude and I could not be any happier! November brings on my favorite time of the year ~ when we begin to think on those things in our lives for which we are truly and genuinely thankful.
**This was updated on 11/4/20 to reflect and add in some of the changes secondary to the pandemic.
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OUR NOVEMBER FAMILY TRADITIONS
November is a VERY special month for Hubby and me. It’s actually the month we celebrate our anniversary! It’s hard to believe that we have spent over two decades celebrating various holidays together, building memories and creating traditions.
That’s funny to say. Traditions. When you have moved as any times as we have, it’s rather hard to develop consistent familiar events for your brain to recall on a regular basis. We have had Thanksgiving in at least 13 different homes and celebrated our anniversary in almost as many states. It’s hard to believe the boys love and appreciate the holidays as much as they do because of how much jostling they have done around them.
However, when I sit down to think about the month of November and ponder what it tends to look like for our family, I do find a few things that stand out.
To Start It Off ~ Our Anniversary
Choosing to get married in November was crazy. Oh, we know! We lived in upstate New York at the time where Hell literally does freeze over and we were so terrified that there were would be six feet snow drift in front of the church preventing guests from entering. We also knew, however, that we didn’t want to wait until spring and getting married within months of our engagement (he proposed in June) was out of the question.
But we were lucky and the weather was near perfect for the tundra region of the Northeast. Just about everybody showed ~ even from out of state ~ and the day was spectacular. There may have even been a few flurries that fell, but I paid no mind.
Every year, we have tried to do something extra special on our anniversary to commemorate the event. We have also chosen that weekend to begin our Christmas shopping. Now, if you know my husband, you may actually find yourself chuckling right about now. He had been a stickler through the years about Christmas not starting until after Thanksgiving. We are still not even allowed to sing Christmas carols until Black Friday!
Fortunately, this was one area where I was able to get him to cave a little ~ somewhere around year 15 or so. We were out for our anniversary while living in New Jersey and he casually mentioned beginning to shop for the boys. I smiled ~ and it’s been a tradition ever since.
Let’s Move On To Thanksgiving Day Traditions
I am a HUGE Macy’s Day Parade fan. HUGE!!! It actually breaks my heart to think that we didn’t take the time to see it in person while living in the Northeast. However, we always make sure it is on the TV every year and I won’t go anywhere (even if invited) unless I get to watch the parade Thanksgiving morning first. I love the music, the dancing, the floats ~ you name it! So, that’s how our Thanksgiving Day starts out….with the Macy’s Day Parade.
Well ~ hold up. Let me back that up a few hours actually. Yes, the parade is a must and God forbid we ever have a problem with our cable service that day. However, I actually rise and shine very early to get started on our Thanksgiving meal. Maybe not “o-dark-thirty” early, but I’m up with the sun to get things going.
For most of our Thanksgiving holidays, it has been just the five of us. We’ve either been too distant from family (in more ways than one) or just not comfortable because of the food allergy situation. Not many people invite us over to join their holiday meals either because of the food allergy situation ~ but it’s all good. We absolutely love being together and our little cozy five has done well enough on its own.
The irony is that, for the second time in two years, we will be spending the holiday with FAMILY and we’re once again food-allergy-prepared.
2020 UPDATE: First, let’s talk parade. It will definitely look different this year, but there is still something on the schedule. So, it will be on the television as I prepare the feast. As for how we will be spending the holiday, we will once again be spending them at home, just the five of us. Our oldest is working from home, the middle son is coming home from college, and the youngest is still in high school. No family gatherings due to the pandemic – and we’re okay with that.
So the morning starts with my getting the stuffing ready. I make a homemade stuffing that I have adapted over the years from a recipe my mother-in-law used to make when we would visit her during the holidays. Gosh ~ I loved her stuffing! I loved her cooking! It warms my heart that I was able to grab this recipe from her and recreate it for our boys. (Miss you, Mom!)
From there, it’s the garlic mashed potatoes, marshmallow sweet potatoes and then the turkey with my apple cider baste and gravy. Mmmm…mmm! I can smell it already! The green bean casserole is easy to prep and I can have the boys do that now,. The rolls are painfully easy and the same kind I had growing up ~ brown ‘n serve. Everybody sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table used to fight over them (in fact, this still happens at OUR Thanksgiving feast!)
The Annual Thanksgiving Day Football game
Whether or not we’re visiting family, our dinner tradition is to have our Thanksgiving meal between 2 and 4PM. That allows for ample settling time, the tryptophan to kick in and naps to be had. However, somewhere in that time frame, the boys usually head outside to have the annual football game! It may only be two on two…or it may even be Hubby as the QB and the younger two against the oldest, but they LOVE that time with their father. The smiles, the laughter, the cheers, the breathless joy of having fun.
I do miss the ginormous backyard we used to have. I wonder if they will find the space to play this year…
The Annual Thanksgiving Day Christmas Movie
Over the years, once the game is over, dinner is done and dessert is cooling, I have been able to kick back, relax and let the boys do the clean up. Ah, the joys of being a Mom who taught her boys how to clean (take note, young mothers!).
Since about 2010, I have worked effortlessly to end Thanksgiving evening by beginning the Christmas season. That’s right ~ I try very hard to get everybody into the livingroom to watch our very first Christmas movie!!
Hey – at least I honor my husband’s wishes and not watch them as soon as we flip the calendar to November. Right?
I’m not always successful, but I do always try!! While I have dozens of favorites, my ultimate must-watch Christmas movies are the Santa Clause movies with Tim Allen. Oh, my goodness! I actually love each and every one of them (two being my favorite)!! If I could convince the family to let me have my way, though, I would have us watching the original on Thanksgiving night. This ultimately excites me all the more about the festivities planned for the next day..
Which , while we’re on the topic, includes….
Decorating the HOUSE!!
Oh, people! I rise even EARLIER on this day! And it’s not to go shopping on Black Friday! I gave that up in 2010. Fighting with people to get a good deal is not my favorite thing in the world to do. If it’s yours ~ have fun! Enjoy a Starbucks for me while you’re out.
2020 UPDATE: Will there BE in-person Black Friday shopping this year?
Nope ~ the day after Thanksgiving is infamously known in this house as “Mom’s Favorite Day of the Year!” We are up early, pulling in the totes that carry all our Christmas decorations and memories so that we can adorn the house with every ounce of Christmas cheer possible. (I literally have a smile on my face as I’m typing this).
This is where my husband has so much grace for me. I plant him in the formal dining room most mornings after the totes are in and let him pack up the autumn decor. That allows me to make my festive mess.
Yes, little Miss OCD, who loves to have everything in its place, creates a gorgeous holiday Christmas mess.
I have to take EVERYTHING out before I place it. To be honest, I think that’s primarily because we have moved so often that I can’t remember what we have and where it may look best. I need to see it all and then find a home for it for the next month (or two).
It’s so much fun to go through the boys’ homemade ornaments, the ones we purchased them when they were little, trinkets we have picked up on our anniversary adventures and all the various odds and ends that have become a part of our holiday season.
It’s nostalgic for me ~ usually leaves my eyes a little wet…but also always leaves a smile on my face.
What About The Leftovers!
We also have a traditional Day-After-Thanksgiving meal, which we have lovingly termed “ga-mush.” (pronounced g’moosh). One year, Hubby took all the leftovers and layered them in a crock-pot ~ yes, ALL the layers!! I was able to get him to leave the cranberry sauce out of the picture, but it still found its way into the dish.
In any case, he layered it all in the crock-pot and, when it was ready and we were hungry, we could serve ourselves as needed.
It was actually VERY good.
A few years ago, however, we took g’moosh to a whole new level and created sandwiches out of them. Instead of layering them in a crock-pot (which we did not have because we were homeless due to a move and staying at my in-laws’ home for the holidays), we layered Thanksgiving leftovers between split brown ‘n serve rolls (there are those rolls again!!). The only non-traditional addition was a layer of Swiss cheese, which was a recommendation taken from a recipe I had found just before the holidays last year.
It was a hit!! The boys loved it and we are planning to do it again this year!
The Day After Thanksgiving Movie – Yup, Christmas again!
Yes ~ as the last ornament is hung and the final nutcracker placed on a mantel somewhere in a house that we have likely never decorated before, we all settle down for some dessert and a Christmas movie. I let the boys pick that one, but the tradition now is that Christmas movies reign until the day after Christmas.
Ahhhh ~ it’s mommy’s favorite time of the year!
But we can’t forget the OTHER traditions!
Of course not! I ~ I mean WE ~ have other traditions, too! Christmas shopping goes full steam ahead two days after Thanksgiving. Christmas music plays almost nonstop around the house and the Christmas baking begins. The boys love my peppermint fudge!!! I also have to get my holiday Starbucks drink ~ a venti hot white peppermint mocha. Yum! Do you have a favorite holiday drink?
Now ~ there is this……
The November Tradition I Wish We Kept a Little Better
This is something I wish we would be a little more faithful to honor. When the boys were young and Hubby was actually in the military, we would try to find ceremonies to attend on November 11th. We love our country and have such a high respect for our brothers and sisters in the military ~ past, present and future. Veterans Day is an opportunity to remember those who have served with their whole heart and in every and any capacity ~ whether stateside or overseas, no matter what era, no matter whether in war or in peace.
What are Your November Traditions?
Well, I’ve shared some of our crazy ideas. What are some of yours? Do you have anything you do on a regular basis throughout the month of November? What do your Thanksgiving holidays look like and when do you allow Christmas to sneak into the picture? Share your stories below and let’s find ourselves grateful that we have the opportunity to create moments and memories such as this in our lives.