Traditions are HARD. Hard to identify, hard to be consistent with, hard to acknowledge. I became acutely aware of this condition, this school year when my daughter was asked to bring photos of a family tradition along with a paragraph describing this tradition to share with the class. Please note, she is only 4 years old. This is not the first time we have been asked this question, and it was not the first time this question has gotten me all worked up.

Thanksgiving traditions at Tonkadale Greenhouse: the turkeyCommence rumination. Do we have any traditions? We’re just like everyone else. We should establish some traditions and stick to them. What is a childhood without traditions? Our traditions are so basic/boring/normal. What do we do on a regular basis or every year that is special to us, to our family to our children? We eat pancakes on Sundays, we pet our dog, we celebrate holidays together and we GARDEN together. That’s it! Gardening is (one) of our family traditions.

I work in a greenhouse, I love what I do and I love to share this with my family. And as Thanksgiving comes around, so do the traditions. So, what do those traditions look like? The simple answer is they look different each year. However, some things always remain the same. Our Thanksgiving traditions are always framed by what’s going on at the greenhouse and it’s always very busy this time of year!

First things first: the meal! Last year I had the wherewithal to order my turkey ahead of time from Lakewinds. Actually, I think my husband ordered it and I was supposed to pick it up. Either way, pick up was scheduled the day before Thanksgiving which is the best time to get a fresh turkey. Lakewinds is my place, it’s in my bubble, close to work, close to home. I worked late on Thanksgiving Eve and set off to pick up my turkey AND all the other Thanksgiving Day groceries! Yikes. I went Thanksgiving Day grocery shopping without a list. But you know what, we had the most delicious Thanksgiving meal in recent memory and it was just wonderful.

With my Google machine in hand and the fresh turkey taking up all the room in my little two-tiered cart, I set off.

My menu:

Turkey – Butter, herbs* and that brine mixture they have at the butcher counter (total life saver).

Mashed potatoes – Butter, potatoes and creamy stuff (I must have some of that at home).

Stuffing – Butter, apples, onion, crusty bread, some herbs*, the giblets from the turkey and broth (I have most of that at home). Thank you, Minnetonka Orchards, for the apples and Costco for the lifetime supply of broth.

Dilled carrots – Butter (just kidding – olive oil), carrots and dill. I think I got this idea from overhearing a conversation of a co-worker’s menu, but I can’t be certain. Ad lib some sort of maple syrup dressing/sauce.

Cranberries – Fresh cranberries, oranges, cinnamon sticks and sugar.

Green salad – Arugula, pomegranate, red onion, pistachios, a goat cheese log and Salad Girl pomegranate pear salad dressing.

Gravy – Butter, just the drippings and gluten-free flour.

Dessert – Assigned to my younger brother and dad.

*I may or may not have harvested the herbs from Tonkadale on my way out the door. I can do this, but it is not advised that you run in with scissors at 5:59 the day before Thanksgiving and do the same.

This is how we spent our day.

Thanksgiving Traditions at Tonkadale Greenhouse: Snow and Christmas lightsWe cooked as a family in the kitchen. I got out the fancy dishes. I set the table. Notice there is no we in these last steps. This is my job and my job alone. We ogled the turkey. We watched football. We ate. We did the dishes. We ate some more.   We rested, the kids napped. We went for a walk. We admired the beautiful snowfall. We probably played some games. We were together.

And then we put up the Christmas tree. An 8-foot Fraser Fir hand-picked from Tonkadale! And then we lit the tree. 10,000 warm-white lights in all. We turned on the Pandora Frank Sinatra Holiday Music station. We admired the tree.

What a wonderful day full of all the traditions you would ever need!

And then there was the weekend. Santa weekend at Tonakdale. In case you haven’t heard, Santa is always at Tonkadale the weekend after Thanksgiving for free family photos and fun. I take the photos (sometimes with teary mist of joy in my eyes), I meet the families, I pet the dogs. My family shows up at 10 am on Sunday. Just like that, a glaring tradition!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Cheers to family traditions and memories that are perfect just the way they are.

Jessie