Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Thanksgiving for Two

When you grow up in a large family, the idea of spending any holiday without a table full of opinionated, loud, laughing, sometimes bickering siblings seems a bit lonely. (I know that some of you are thinking, what an AWFUL way to spend the holiday....but for me, it seems perfect)

Despite not being at home for the past 2 turkey days, we have celebrated with plenty of company - the first year, hosting 12 people including my sister, brother in law and nephew - and last year, seeing the Macy's parade before celebrating with friends in NYC.  And, this year, goodness, we tried to make it a full Thanksgiving table.  We had plans to visit my sister in Vermont that fell through - and we invited people over (but most were already heading home...) and so we finally accepted that it would be a "just the two of us" holiday celebration.

I was a bit mopey about this for awhile - but then I had an attitude adjustment.  So many people are alone on holidays - or overseas protecting us or serving on the mission field. So many people recently lost a loved one or may be spending their holiday in a hospital or are going through a divorce or waiting to meet the right man or woman.  A lot of people face Thanksgiving with heartache and longing and disappointment weighing them down, making a day of thanks and praise a hard task. And yet, here I am- a sweet husband, a longed for baby on the way, family and friends back home worth missing, enough money and food and necessities - plus a year where I have witnessed God's faithfulness in many ways.

And, so, fresh new outlook in place, we decided to make the best of our little holiday for two (or two and a half!). And, you know what? It wasn't so bad! Dave is my favorite person to spend time with - and I got to spend the day (and the 4 day break) with him!  At the end of the day, we both agreed that we prefer busy crazy holidays packed with families and friends - but the alternative was not so bad!

We were both fortunate enough to get off work early on Wednesday so we spent the evening watching a movie, going for a short walk to Trader Joe's and watching Netflix.  I also cooked our Thanksgiving pie and cinnamon rolls for the next morning. I have always wanted to try Pioneer Woman's homemade cinnamon roll recipe - and a holiday was the perfect excuse to bake them. The recipe makes several pans, so I cut it in half - and it still made a few pans - so we have a few weekend breakfasts ready to go in our freezer. It's like the holiday treat that will keep on giving - all December long!
As you can see, my rolls weren't all even as the proper mechanics of cinnamon roll folding was learned through the process - but goodness did they taste good!

We woke up and watched the parade while eating homemade cinnamon rolls and drinking hot cocoa. We then went to see a matinee, "Mockingjay Part 2."  We watched a holiday movie and slowly finished cooking our mostly "nontraditional" Thanksgiving Dinner. At dinner, we went through our "Thankfulness" jar - stuffed full of little notes about the things we had been thankful for all month long - and we talked about the holidays, our blessings and what we were looking forward to in the coming year.

Our thankfulness jar (packed full), yummy steak dinner, pie and movie date!

We ended the evening with a little online Black Friday shopping, a holiday movie and a piece of pie! It was truly a happy day - full of thankfulness and time together.

What we ate:

  • Breakfast: Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls (cooked the night before and reheated in the oven the next morning)
  • Lunch: popcorn at the movies (yep, classy folks)
  • Dinner: Steak (with a marinade I looked up online and can't remember where I found it. I had planned to make the steaks without a marinade - but Dave decided that he wanted a marinade last minute, so we were limited to the ingredients I had on hand, luckily it turned out well!), rolls, my mother in law's potato casserole, Alton Brown's baked mac and cheese, sauteed zucchini (one serving as it was for me, only)
  • Dessert: s'mores chocolate pie

How to handle "Thanksgiving for Two"
  • Accept that it will be "non-traditional" but still make it special. Obviously, with just two people, a big Turkey was going to be out of the question.  So instead of a small turkey breast, we decided to splurge on steaks. Also, as mentioned above, I have been wanting to try this cinnamon roll recipe for awhile and this was a perfect day to do it!
  • Don't overcook.  I cut all the recipes in half - and even just sauteed one zucchini for myself.  I knew we did not want to eat leftovers for days.
  • Decide which "staples" you have to have - and which you can do without.  This was especially necessary for me because I have a picky eater for a husband so staples like sweet potato casserole, a hearty fall salad, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie would only be eaten by me. So, I narrowed it down to staple dishes we both liked - potato casserole and mac and cheese (both holiday staples) and added a veggie for me.  Zucchini was the simplest veggie to add because I had it on hand and I could literally just saute it and throw it on the table. Also, Dave dislikes traditional holiday pies so I decided to try a chocolate pie recipe I found online.  A few traditional dishes and a few not so traditional dishes.
  • Use this as an opportunity to start a new tradition or at least do something different.  Cinnamon rolls, the thankfulness jar, and mid-day movie - all new to us.  If we do Thanksgiving alone again next year, some of these new celebrations may stick!
  • Do celebrate. Celebrating for one or two can seem like a waste of time, but truthfully, it's your holiday just like it's anyone else's holiday and you should celebrate, even if just in a small way! Go out to eat, cook a small holiday brunch, run in a local "turkey trot", order a meal from "Blue Apron", etc, etc.  It is a holiday and even without a crowd, it can be a happy day!

We followed up the holiday with a little weekend get away to Chincoteague, VA - a cute little town (with wild ponies and a beach)  Unfortunately, due to it being the off season, most of the restaurants and attractions were closed but we still enjoyed exploring, a little hiking (or waddling), hot tub-ing (legs only for me sadly) and football watching!
wild ponies and cute husband!

Annie D and me - celebrating the beginning of 3rd trimester at the beach!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Hot Tub-ing and beer drinking!

This year has been a mixture of really hard and really good.  In the course of a year, we have rejoiced, mourned, waited and rejoiced again.  So, I am thankful for a God that sprinkles good in with the bad and who gently walks us through life's trials while blessing us daily with far more than we deserve.  I realize that this holiday season is not as happy for everyone.  For those that are thanking God through tears, loss, heartache and long periods of waiting and unanswered prayers, know that I admire you so much.  For those going through the motions of thankfulness even when their heart does not feel like praising, you are examples to us all - of faithfully serving and trusting and thanking a good God even when your life does not seem full of blessings.  It is easy for me to praise with a husband and baby and enough food and money.  I realize that it is much harder to thank Him when the ring finger remains naked, the womb is barren, the cupboard is empty or a loved one's missing presence is greatly felt. It is my prayer that your obedience is honored - and that through this Holiday season, you will feel hope and sense God's goodness daily.


  1. You look great, Katy!! And I feel you on that pick eater of a husband you have!

    1. It makes life SO HARD! Hopefully both our babies will be good eaters!