You don’t need the turkey, just the friends

It is my favorite time of year.

The cold weather means breaking out the boots from storage, Christmas music is playing nonstop and calories really start to matter because Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

Up until a few years ago, Thanksgiving was never really a big thing in the Jackson household.

For a family that is as American as apple pie on the Fourth of July, this comes as a shock to our friends.

In fact, I can actually only remember a handful of Thanksgivings that involved a turkey.

A typical Jackson Thanksgiving dinner often consisted of baked spaghetti or carry-out from whatever nearby restaurant was open. My mom always joked that if she ever found a turkey shaped baking pan, she would bake our pasta in that.

We haven’t always been this non-traditional.

When I was young, my grandpa would do the cooking for major holidays.

Even when he became ill and was in the hospital for seven months, he called my mom and guided her through family recipes.

Though she is a great cook, my mom cannot cook a turkey.

After my grandpa passed and my grandma entered a nursing home, holiday meals were whatever could easily be transported.

There are epic tales of my dad sneaking alcohol into the nursing home because my grandma wanted her signature cocktails.

When grandma died, we were faced with either attempting to concoct an all-American Thanksgiving dinner or going back to our tradition. In the end we decided eat pasta and host a post-Thanksgiving party the day after.

About three years ago a dent was put into our family tradition, and a very delicious one at that.

It is now just my aunt on my mom’s side. My dad’s family is spread all over the country, so we consider our friends family. 

One of our close family friends was in the same boat as us, so we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving together.

Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of it because I was in such a food coma, but I do know it was an enlightening experience.

Since our family friends hosted Thanksgiving, we hosted Christmas as well as our post-Thanksgiving party.

We will be continuing this new tradition this year and I am excited, though I do miss seeing the reactions from people when I tell them that we eat pasta on Thanksgiving.

It is not just the food that is exciting, it is the time spent celebrating with friends.

The turkey doesn’t make Thanksgiving, the people you celebrate it with do.

With everyone’s busy schedules it is hard to see each other.

The holidays are the perfect opportunity to catch up.

Next year may bring a new holiday tradition, but as long as I have my family and the happy memories of Thanksgivings and holidays past, I know it will be great.