Turkey Day Preparations and Kick Lines

Thanksgiving table setting with a pumpkin as a centerpiece. A fall leaf motif ceramic tray by Alex Kennedy is placed before the pumpkin. Three white plates on brown placemats are set at the table–along with cutlery and gingham/checkered violet, white, and green napkins. Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

Wind in my face—with a fork in each hand—I’m racing toward Thanksgiving. It’s almost here, so I’m ramping up the preparations and I’m going harder than I’ve ever gone before.

“Oh! It is onnn,” I tell Nate as I make my grocery list.

“I really hate to ask, but what are you talking about?”

“Thanksgiving! I have to shop like a . . . like just a giant wall of wind. . . and then I have to clean the house and then do a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the table.”

“A dress rehearsal for the table?”

“Yeah. It’s something new I’ve invented just for this year.”

Nate calmly nods his head and drinks some coffee. Then, I grab my keys, hop in the car, and “floor it” all the way to the grocery store. My cart may have two wonky wheels and I’ve certainly tested the limits of how many items should go safely into one shopping cart, but I’ve managed to grab everything on my list in just under an hour. I’ve forgotten the turkey on purpose because it’s a family tradition for Nate, Alex, and me to go to a different store and select one.

Beyond the shopping, here’s my Count Down to Turkey Day List:

  1.  Find a Rockette’s Kick-Line instructional video on YouTube. Every Thanksgiving I inevitably pull an inner thigh muscle when I have a sip or two of beer, watch the Macy’s Parade on TV, and jump into the action when the Rockettes come into view. (I have been known to suddenly shout, “I could have been a Rockette!”) Not this year. I’m training for it. I’m training hard. I’m starting today (Saturday). By Thursday, I’ll be ready. I just know it.
  2. Get the turkey. This year, Nate, Alex, and I went to Haggen, which is a dangerous place to go because there are so many beautiful things in Haggen besides the turkeys.

Me: Hey, do you think I should set out an appetizer of cheese this year?

Nate: Cheese! Oh, yes! There’s a wonderful selection of cheeses here.

(Nate and Alex gobble down bites of cheese samples while I get ideas for “veggie tray” designs.)

Twenty minutes later: We have two different aged cheeses, crystalized ginger, fresh garlic, some onions because I can’t remember if I have them or not, and a turkey. So no, we didn’t just get a turkey. We may have been too distracted, which could set me behind on my preparations, but that just means I’ll have to dig deep and go harder, which brings me to number three below:

  1. Put the table through a dress rehearsal. This year, I put all of the plates, the table runner, the decorations, napkins, glasses, and cutlery onto the table. Then, I arranged and re-arranged everything at least ten times. I also played with the lighting. When I finally liked what I had done, I snapped a picture so that I could re-create the table without any problems on Thanksgiving Day. I know what you’re thinking: How did you come up with such a useful time-saver? I honestly hadn’t thought of it until this year, so I’m sharing it with you. You are welcome!
  2. Buy birthday cards for my younger brother and sister. This year, their birthday is the day after Thanksgiving—just as it was the year they were born (1979). Mom had Thanksgiving turkey; then she gave birth, which I believe is a metaphor for how many of us feel the day after Thanksgiving.
  3. Clean the house, with the help of the rest of the family, except for SeaTac the cat, who won’t move when we want to vacuum the couch.
  4. The day before: Make the rolls and the mashed potatoes. The secret to my mashed potatoes is plenty of freshly ground black pepper and chicken broth, which adds a rich flavor, without a lot of fat.
  5. Then, I make the fruit gelatin mold and the cranberry sauce from recipes from Cooking Light’s November 2003 edition.
  6. The night before: Nate makes the pumpkin pie from a Betty Crocker cookbook.   (Nate does a fabulous job. He could probably “side-hustle” his way into homes all over the U.S. and cook pumpkin pies from my Betty Crocker cookbook. I could come too and perform a Rockette’s type show while the pies bake. Oh, the possibilities!)
  7. Thanksgiving morning: Nate gets the turkey ready. Even though the turkey has been hanging out in our refrigerator since the latter half of the weekend as part of our food safety precautions, the turkey may still be frozen, so we have to give it water baths to let it defrost a bit before cooking.
  8. Put out the appetizers and kick up my heels when the Rockettes come on. (Wish me luck!)
  9. Set the table.
  10. Heat up the stuffing in the microwave. (I made homemade stuffing once and decided that the boxed stuff tasted better. At least, it tasted better in my kitchen. In your kitchen, the homemade version might be better, so I’m inviting myself over to your house next year for Thanksgiving. We could do the kick line together when the Macy’s Parade is on!)
  11. Count our many, many blessings.
  12. Either grab an ice pack or buy a ticket to New York to audition for the Rockettes, depending on how my training goes.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Your Turn: What are your favorite preparations for Thanksgiving? What are your Thanksgiving short cuts? Do you make everything from scratch or do you buy mixes or items that are already made? (There is no shame in that, by the way!)




31 thoughts on “Turkey Day Preparations and Kick Lines

  1. I make my stuffing from scratch and I put the turkey in a roaster oven that I set up out in the garage. I also brine my turkey. I have a nice bottle of French Rose’ that I’ll chill for the dinner.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love reading your blog. It always makes me smile 🙂 We have moved from a traditional Thanksgiving meal to having a Cajun dinner with a turkey breast. This year is shrimp etouffee, gumbo and the turkey breast will be fried. Plus what ever sides we come up with the day before. 😉 I love the idea of the table dress rehearsal. Hope you have Happy Thanksgiving and the training pays off – no pulled muscles.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Like you, I am not averse to a little help. The first year I made everything from scratch. It was ok, not great. Our local grocery store has an étouffée base and a gumbo base in the frozen section. All I have to do is add what meats I want and make rice. Easy peasy and everyone loves it. It made my Thanksgiving much easier. 😊 We add some traditional sides, boudin and bread pudding. Done. The bread pudding is made with bollio buns (light soft bread). I can share the recipe if you would like it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Bread Pudding – 12-16 pieces of bread or one bag of bolillos bread. 3 cups sugar (I tend to add a bit less) 3 cups milk, six eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 lump butter (your guess is as good as mine what a lump is. I love butter so my lump may be bigger than yours) Mix all the ingredients together except for the bread, once mixed, toss the bread chunks into the liquid mixture and stir to evenly coat bread pieces. Pour into greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350F for about an hour or until brown around the edges and set in the middle. Top with Butter sauce. Butter Sauce: 1 stick butter (the real deal) 1 cup sugar, 1/2 can evaporated milk or one small can. 1 1/2 tsp vanilla. Mix all in a sauce pan, cook over medium heat until all the butter and sugar are melted. I pour the sauce over the individual serving of the bread pudding and again I adjust the sugar a bit. This is a recipe from our Girl Scout area leader, when I was a leader several years ago. It was a hit at our meetings. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. VERY cute! EVEN when I was much younger and did a yearly Orphan’s Thanksgiving, I *never* did all of your amazing prep. Of course, it helped that I was living in “let’s order take-out” NYC at the time, so expectations were VERY different — cooking a meal in your very own apartment was impressive all by itself. The fun thing I DID do was to wander down to W. 79th the night before to wander around and watch them blow up the balloons for the Macy’s Parade the following day (which I read somewhere they no longer let folks do 😦 )

    These days, having left what will ALWAYS be my favorite city for what I consider “the ‘burbs” by comparison (even though I am technically w/i the city limits of “everyone was born and raised here but me” Cincinnati) my prep is confined primarily to laundry — making sure I have something clean to wear to somebody else’s family blow-out. 🙂

    Happy Thanksgiving. ❤
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    "It takes a village to transform a world!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It WAS amazing. I miss it like a lover! I especially miss the streets and store windows all decked out for the holidays.

        Don’t feel like you’re missing the Parade, however. You can actually see it better on TV (and it’s actually more fun), even if you have AMAZING seats, the weather is perfect and you adore being surrounded by a crowd (or you have an apartment with a b-i-g balcony on the parade route so you can invite all your friends).

        From a place on the street you can’t get more than a moment of each float as it passes by and you mostly see the undersides of the balloons – and there’s a lot of waiting with nothing happening.

        Most of my friends in NYC watched it on TV while they cooked or taped it to watch while the guys were watching football – lol.

        HOWEVER, because Santa arrives at the end of Macy’s Parade and the entire City must be Christmas-ready *immediately* after the parade, they have to start incredibly early, of course! So it’s all completely ready the week before Thanksgiving.

        And you know what? Nobody bitches and moans about that – which makes for a REALLY happy atmosphere. That’s the best reason to be in NYC for the season – it really FEELS like Christmas in New York!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Bin appetite and A nice turkey recipe as time ago besides you must be drinking red wine with this meat.
    All preparations as tamales in Mexico and lovely woman at kitchens… enjoy a hard work at least to me ☺️☺️☺️☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow. Quite the list!

    We have Thanksgiving with someone who has a large list of food allergies. As such, I bring a huge fruit and veggie platter. She can eat everything on it, and I don;t have to worry about ingredients changing and making her sick, or worse, sending her to the ER!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t even all those preparations, but then it sounds like you enjoy them. I go to my daughter’s house, so I’m responsible for salmon chowder and that’s it! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can pull it off. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. No Rockettes in the kitchen!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy Thanksgiving! Yes, doing a kick line in the kitchen is dangerous. I save that move for the living room. It makes the cat nervous, but he has come to expect this kind of behavior from me at least once a year.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy Thanksgiving! We don’t celebrate in Sweden or in Dubai but I work with a lot of Americans who yesterday thought me how to draw a turkey. Always something! And I’m grateful for a million things so I’ll share a specific thought to that this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. HI! I’m Cathi. I enjoyed reading your “conversation.” I live in an area where there are gourmet shops with Thanksigiving Takeout menus consisting of foods that are a lot better than what I can cook. So I prepare the sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and salad…but I bring in the turkey and stuffing. I’m turkey-baking-phobic. I’m always terrified of putting that poor bird in my oven.

    By the way, I write a lot of “conversations” in my blog. You might like it if you have a chance to check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Cathi! Thanks for the follow–and for your response. I love the idea of going to gourmet shops for Thanksgiving! I’ll be sure to check out your blog as well–sounds like fun. Cheers!


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