Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Thanksgiving to be Thankful for!

Thanksgiving is uber important for my family. On my mother's side of the family - The Drapers, the tradition has gone back 5 generations according to my Grandfather and not much has changed. Though we don't have finger bowls anymore (don't talk about it in front of my Grandfather) We do have a very similar menu to what he had as a child. We always have place settings, sit boy/girl (no married couples together), eat with real silver and my Grandfather carves the Turkey.
The Drapers do Thanksgiving the way it ought to be, I'm pretty sure my Grandfather gave a tutorial at Plymouth Rock about how to carve a turkey and why we must also have sausages served along side it. When I was a child we had Thanksgiving in my Grandparents basement. I think there were about 50 people there, well that's what it seemed like from the kid's table. When I got a little older we started to go up to Jaffrey NH to my Great-GrandMummy's and the table would stretch through the sun room into the house. We would play in the secret passages and barn and run in the fields until our pumpkin pie came bursting out of us. Then years later my Aunt Kim and Uncle Kip took over the hosting in their gorgeous, open concept home in Groton, Ma. That's really where it has been held for the longest time that I can remember. The best years are when our Maryland family makes it up, usually every other year and we have the whole clan together, which can reach to over 30!
For me, Thanksgiving isn't just another holiday, it really represents why my family is so amazing and reconfirms how lucky I am. It's like a recharge for me. My mother passed away just days after Thanksgiving when I was 17 and it is a really hard time of year. The only thing that really makes it bearable is being with Drapers. We have had so much loss in our family, that we are bound tighter than any other family I know. Cousins aren't just cousins they are like siblings, and my aunts and uncles are more like parents to me and that goes for our extended Draper family as well. I can't help but be moved to tears every Thanksgiving, no matter how many of us can come. I look around that table and the tradition and love basically punches you in the face. I wait for it all year. It's really a time to remember my Mom and others that we have lost, it makes me feel closer to them knowing that we are carrying on the tradition. And it really helps me prepare for the Holiday season. Though it's a happy time of year and I love it, it also brings allot of sadness. So for me, Thanksgiving is like the start of a hibernation in a sense. The way a Bear eats as much as possible before the snow so it can hibernate and get through the winter. I fill up on love and family and "Mom-ness" on Thanksgiving and it helps me get through the rest of the holidays without her.

But this year my Aunt Kim had rented out her Groton house, having moved to Hull Ma. It didn't seem that we would have a place big enough for the clan to gather. Then it dawned on me, CHELLO!! Pete and I just bought a giant house that is begging for a Thanksgiving dinner! And so, Pete and I were able to cross #6 off the list of 40 before 40. We got to host a big Thanksgiving dinner, small fro Drapers (16) but big in general!
This was a HUGE deal here! (Thank you Kim for taking this on for so long!!) Not just the physical aspect of figuring out how to arrange tables and cook food but also keeping my grandfather happy. Now that he has discovered email, I felt like I got one every ten minutes. "Remember the real silver.... I must insist on drinking from a real glass... The laid pudding needs to cook for 4 hours.... Should I bring my own Bourbon... Are you making the place settings?..." It was allot to keep up with, but that's what makes it so special.
We pulled it off beautifully. It was an amazing day and it all seemed to run so smoothly (with LOTS of help!) Pete smoked a Turkey on the grill to free up the oven and our amazing neighbors let us borrow their oven for the Laid pudding (that needed 4 hours to cook.) The thank you notes I received afterward from people were so touching. It really is just as important to them as it is to me and I was so happy to be able to continue it and hopefully we will be able to for years to come. Though next year we may reach 30! THAT will be the real challenge but we are ready!
Here are just a few small things we did to make the table look festive!

First were the ever important place card settings. We had plenty of wine corks saved up (Don't judge me) so I took some old Squirrel cards we had left over from our wedding (Thank you Etsy) and I made wine cork place settings. So much easier than I thought! I think it helped that I used the fake wine corks, they were much easier to cut. All you have to do is slice a small sliver off the bottom so they sit flat. I started with an exacto knife but really a big serrated knife worked way better. Then you make a slit on the top of the wine cork, big enough to slide the cards in. Easy Peesey and super cute!
We also took some left over vases (also from our wedding) and places some fake fall foliage in the middle. I found them at Joanne's Fabric. They were wire cranberries, acorns, leaves and other doodads. I stuck them in the middle with some green plant foam and then filled the outer edges with real cranberries and acorns and it was the perfect way to add a little color and a little Fall to the table! Our candle holders were filled with extra cranberries and whole nuts in their shell. It took all of 30 minutes to put it all together and it really looked great!
The whole day was allot of work and a ton of planning but it was so worth it. I think my Mom would have been proud...


  1. I could relive that day over and over again! Lovely job sweety!!

  2. Of course your mom is proud! I loved this post and hearing about all of the fun Draper traditions. It is so special that you get to be the home base of the start of the holiday season. I also loved your centerpieces idea and plan to steal that idea for our holiday celebrations! Hugs and love!

  3. It was a terrific festive beautiful day especially the placemats!and now we have a new tradition of peppered fennel! Great job!