Thanksgiving, like everything about my grandmother, was perfect. As a Mexican immigrant, Thanksgiving was a very special holiday for her and celebrating it made her feel American. Her first year in the United States with my mom, aunt, and uncle, she bought her Thanksgiving meal at KFC, and while that might sound like a very humble meal, she felt grateful to be able to afford a turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. It was the first time she had all of these dishes altogether, and it became a magical meal for the family.
Each year after that, my grandmother baked her own turkey and would find a more delicious way to make every side dish. She poured over Martha Stewart cookbooks, and she spared no expense to make the best stuffing ever. She combined ground pork, ground beef, Italian olives, capers, shallots, celery, roasted onions, thick, crusty bread crumbs, pecans, walnuts, golden raisins, and pine nuts. As a result, I’ve always loved stuffing more than the turkey itself. My mother would make her own stuffing as well, using every nut imaginable, cinnamon, apples, and carrots -- so dense, sweet, and crispy, it almost tasted like dessert.
When my grandmother passed, there was no one to make her stuffing. But I had watched her make that stuffing for nearly twenty years, waking up at three in the morning, marinating the meat in parsley and onions, adding fresh thyme and marjoram while it cooked. One day, my aunt asked me if I could make my grandmother’s stuffing. I decided to combine my grandmother’s recipe with my mother’s, and add some of my favorite spices, like cardamom and rosemary. That Thanksgiving, when my aunt and uncle ate the stuffing, my uncle told me, “It tastes just like your grandma’s.”
To me, that was the biggest compliment. For one moment, to have a dish that brought my grandma back into the room. Thanksgiving is about continuing a tradition with family, and making it your own.
As Thanksgiving day approaches, I wanted to ask everyone at SutherlandGold about their favorite Thanksgiving traditions, and I hope it inspires you to share or start your own!
“Every other year, my family pulls off a sit down dinner for 60 people. We cook six turkeys, six different ways. This includes a turkey lattice wrapped in bacon, a deep fried turkey, trash can baked turkey and everyone’s favorite, the turkey with White Castle hamburger stuffing!!”
-- Mally Fox, Senior Account Executive
“One thing we do in my family for Christmas time is that we make a grab bag for everyone 18 and older (so we aren't buying for everyone). So, each year on Thanksgiving after we eat, we go around and pick names out of a hat so everyone knows who they have to buy for, for our Secret Santa.”
-- Samantha Lutz, Senior Account Advisor
“My favorite tradition is waking up early Thanksgiving morning to fry a turkey outside with my immediate family. We have a huge extended family (dozens of cousins, aunts, and uncles) that we meet with later in the day, but the annual turkey frying is a way for us to bond -- it's the calm before the storm. Also, fried turkey is delicious and if you've never had it, a piece of your life is missing.”
-- Matt Bryant, Account Supervisor
“My family always eats really early, between 1-3 pm because my grandpa would always duck out to the Thanksgiving day auto races. He built race car engines for a living so it was like his Christmas. Even though he's 93 now and not making it out to every race, we still eat on the earlier side.”
-- Katie Warmuth, Account Director
“I'm a first-generation American and my mother is still very much in touch with her Vietnamese roots. My Thanksgiving meal changes each year, depending on what she feels like making. I tried watching her make Pho one time, but it was too long and complicated for my mind to follow. The one thing that stays constant is that the food is delicious and she spends a couple of hours making it.”
-- Cindy Huynh, Intern
“Being a vegetarian my entire life, I have spent a majority of Thanksgivings taking on responsibilities of making the creamiest mashed potatoes and the most exotic and slow-cooked turkey stuffing imaginable! But, I could never wallow too much because the majority of my Thanksgivings have been spent in 80 degree Texas weather on a pool deck. That is my very, very vegetarian-Thanksgiving tradition in a nutshell! #VegetarianStrugglesAreReal.”
-- Anushree Sharma, Intern
“My Thanksgiving tradition- 1. Do not talk politics and 2. Try not to kill each other. 2. Is only possible if 1 does not happen.”
-- Anonymous gifted employee
“Thanksgiving with my family is always huge -- we're usually 70 people under one roof, four generations. It's the only time each year we're all together, so folks make it a point to come from far and wide.”
-- Sarah Shaev, Account Supervisor