For some reason, with the few cooking skills we’ve mastered, my husband Manny and I decided to host our first Thanksgiving as a newlywed couple (almost four months and still going strong!). Celebrating the holidays always comes with the difficult decision of whose family we’ll spend the day with, so spending the morning in the kitchen was a simple solution to being able to celebrate with both families. It wasn’t an argument, nobody felt left out and we are truly thankful for all the love and support we shared during Thanksgiving.
Although family is the most important thing to us, the menu was definitely second on our priority list. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I called on the only person I know who can always show me what to do: my mother. We spent the whole day deciding on a menu, cooking and being thankful for our time together, and we ended up with an array of mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and salad.
Since I have not yet become Queen of the Kitchen, there are still several items that scare me to cook, including the Thanksgiving highlight: turkey. The pin feathers are absolutely repulsive, and one day when I attempt to cook a turkey myself, I will be sure to wear more than one pair of gloves to touch that poultry. Luckily, my sister is vegetarian anyway, so cooking a turkey wasn’t really a necessity for me. That being said, Manny insisted we have some protein, so lasagna it was. Cheese is the best, most nutritious protein there is anyway, right?
Come Wednesday night, Manny and I had added lasagna, challah rolls, a vegetable tray with dip, fruit salad and pumpkin mousse to the menu.
So, at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, I was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on our Thanksgiving lasagna and decorating the table. In the end, we had our turkeys after all with my festive addition of turkeys made out of Ferrero Rocher chocolate, and my whole family got to spend the morning and afternoon together.
At 5 p.m. we made our way to Manny’s family where we managed to stuff ourselves full (again) of stuffing and real turkey this time. Our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple was perfect in every way.
Fast forward to the first weeks of December, and we are celebrating again. This time, we come together to celebrate the miracle of Chanukah.
Let me tell you, there is something so special about lighting candles with your spouse for the very first time. Of course, we weren’t as prepared as we thought, and neither of us thought to get a menorah before the holiday. So, we scrounged up our tea lights to brighten the night and celebrated the Festival of Lights in our own way. And again, I was given the opportunity to be thankful for my mom who saved the day and gave us two beautiful menorahs the very next day that we will cherish forever.
This year, I’m also thankful for my sister, who hosted what I like to call a “healthy” Chanukah — with the exception of donuts and fantastic piñata cookies.
What is most important about any holiday season, however, is living in, and enjoying, the moment. Time travels so quickly, and the candle’s light does not shine forever. So, as I sit and write this and watch the flickering lights, I acknowledge the true miracle and impact that family and food have in Judaism.