It took us a few years to fall into a proper tradition of Thanksgiving here in Australia. More because you have to learn to think outside of the box when it comes to carrying on traditions from one country in another. Things like fresh cranberries are non-existent in my town, turkeys cost a small fortune, & I'm pretty sure I've never laid eyes on the crazy fried onion thingies people top their green bean casseroles with. Which, in all fairness is okay, I've never really liked that funky casserole! There's also a decidedly huge lack of pumpkin this time of year because it's not exactly in season, & canned pumpkin? I gave up looking for that years ago! And so you learn to adapt..
Our first few Aussie Thanksgivings were just the fore of us where I managed to find bottled cranberry sauce to top chicken with. And then three of four years ago we did the traditional Pilgrim study with the boys & decided to have a great big Thanksgiving bash. We still had to pay a small fortune for turkey, but for a once year treat we figured it was worth it. There are still no fresh cranberries, but did you know you can make cranberry sauce super easy from dried cranberries? We've been doing it for years now. I've never made a green bean casserole, all though each year I steam green beans & 2013 marks the first year I've remembered to put them on the table. Yep, in years past it's become the running joke that their must be beans in the microwave upon which we'll have to eat for breakfast when we find them.
Our menu looks significantly different, which is only in part due to food allergies, but more so due to our location & learning to adapt. Turkey, green beans, & cranberries are present, & so is the traditional corn pudding. At least it's traditional in my family & has always been one of the top favourites on the table for me. Of course, I've had to majorly adapt the recipe considering it's loaded with everything I can't eat! There's also the fact that I lose the recipe every single year! In an effort to not repeat that I slipped it in my recipe binder last year, but then discovered there was no butter listed & I was certain there's suppose to be about 3T of butter in it. I was about 2 digits away from waking my mother at roughly 1 am her time to verify when I decided google might be less disturbing for her sleep.
There was the year I couldn't get through to Mom so I called a cousin, who took ages to stop laughing about the fact that I had no mayo in the house & would yogurt work instead? You know, I'm not at all sure what I was making, but it wasn't corn pudding. Perhaps it was cheesecake which is also a family recipe..
We have our traditional fruit salad, another family recipe all though due to it's content of whipped cream we now serve that on the side. We have mashed potatoes, made with coconut milk, nutellex, garlic salt, & chives. I was actually worried about those for people who are use to the milky version, but they were well raved about. Green beans, which I actually remembered to serve this year, most years they never make it out of their cooking pot because I forget to put them on the table! And a lovely Autumn Salad that we generally only make once or twice a year, but is so good we really should make it far more often! Of course their's pie for desert, never pumpkin & rarely cherry because they aren't in season for another month or so, but apple is always there.
Yet, the crazies, sillies, funniest part of all our traditions doesn't revolve around any of this. It revolves around those crazy insane slips of paper in the photo above. Years ago when we had our first feast & the boys invited their aunts, uncles, & cousins one family chose to look Thanksgiving up. Then, in their normal fashion they decided that if one was meant to give thanks they'd take that literally. Our house was littered with pieces of paper that said "Thanks" or some variation all over it. One couldn't pass a napkin, offer pie, or walk down the hallway without getting a slip of paper for one reason or another.
And so, when our evening was over & they all went home I collected every single scrap of paper that said thanks on it. I found them stuck to the fridge, under the couch, & laying on empty pie plates. I put them all in a ziplock baggie & awaited the season to send out Christmas cards. I then covered every inch of their card by writing thanks on the outside of it & then filled the card with all the lovely slips of paper. We then covered the envelope in the words thanks, heaven knows what the postal system was thinking, & sent it on it's way a few towns over. The laughter that ensued from both homes is still spoken of today. How one little silly random "Oh, let's do.." has turned into a ridiculous tradition.
The following year the Thanks were returned, with new ones. They showed up a few days prior to Thanksgiving in our mailbox. What's the cost of a stamp for a bit of fun? And so we sprinkled them all over the table so fun could ensue, & collected them from all depths of the home afterwards to return in the annual Christmas card. You're seeing the pattern right?
This year the boys were determined to catch them in the act of hand delivering the Thanks as we now live in line with their travel path. The boys were on high alert for 2 days & then began to think that perhaps the tradition was no more as it took a small break last year in the hurry & flurry of things & was slightly forgotten. It's when they least expected it though, that this year's thanks arrived. While I was trying to master a gluten free pie crust the boys became anxious & wanted to go to town. I told them it would be years before we could go to town because I was terrified of the pie crust & until I overcame the fear no one was going anywhere & then sent them to check the mail.
They came running inside with much screaming & laughter to find 2 envelopes this year addressed specifically to themselves. The joy that ensued as they decided how their uncle must have snuck up & delivered the envelopes was quite interesting to listen to as I tackled the pie crust. Then we heard the real story behind it & it was a bit of a stealth mission, that the little girl next door became quite intent to watch. Yep, well apparently he idea of stringing huge letters of Thanks across our front gate was given up & the envelopes were quickly deposited in the mailbox as he made a quick get-away.
Half the thanks were sprinkled across the tables again this year & the ideas of how to return them are thick & heavy. I have to say that the men I live with are pretty creative! I suspect there will be none in the Christmas card this year, but that the efforts of giving thanks might be upped next year. Time will tell I suppose..