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Thread: Thanksgiving vs. Christmas dinner

  1. #1
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    Thanksgiving vs. Christmas dinner

    The Thanksgiving threads have got me thinking. My family has irtually the same dinner on these two holidays, and I vowed to my mother growing up that when I got married and hosted one of the holidays, we'd have something different. Thanksgiving dinner is SOOOO yummy, but no one is as excited about the turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, etc. just a few weeks later.

    So now I'm married and hosting Christmas dinner for the first time (!) and want to have something different. My parents are up in arms that I'm breaking tradition, that it's not Christmas without turkey, etc.

    Two questions, then: Am I really hurting anything (other than Mom and Dad's feelings, which I know will be fine once they get over the idea of not having turkey) by starting my own tradition of a turkey-free Christmas dinner? Should I suck it up and just do turkey? And do you serve the same (or similar) meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas in your house?

    I guess that was 3 questions -- oops!
    Jodi

  2. #2
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    Thanksgiving vs. Christmas

    Hey everyone it's my first post. We always have turkey on thanksgiving, and ham on Christmas.

  3. #3
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    Personally, I like to have the opportunity to try different foods for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has been traditional for turkey, although I never have made the same recipe twice (well, OK, there have only been 3 years in question here), and 2 years ago we did cornish game hens instead.

    My parents and DH's parents do a turkey for both meals most of the time.

    For Christmas dinner last year, we had a wonderful roast beef with baby potatoes and carrots. It was wonderful! We had some of the sides that go with turkey, such as the cranberries, mashed potatoes, etc that can really go with anything. It was a very festive meal, and it was great!

    I think its great to start new traditions with your new DH. That's (IMO) part of being married and a part of a new family. Invite your parents/in-laws to participate, but don't feel obligated to copy everything they do just because its what they do. Maybe you could find something from both your family's and your DH's family's holiday traditions that you both like and incorporate them into your new traditions.

    Just my $.02 worth

    Lara

  4. #4
    My parents do turkey on Thanksgiving and roast beef on Christmas (usually! one year they had goose on Christmas).

    The Thanksgiving side dishes tend to be pretty much the same year after year (not a bad thing): mashed potatoes, green beans, my dad's favorite creamed pearl onions, rolls, and carrots or squash. Gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce too, of course.

    Christmas is more dependent on my mom's whim. She likes to start with a soup. Potatoes are usually roasted, not mashed. Vegetable is whatever looks good and fresh at the market.

    I think it's great that you're thinking of doing something a bit different and starting your own traditions!

  5. #5
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    I would make what you want since you are hosting. I agree with you, turkey just a few weeks later is boring. Go for it!
    You can't drink rum on the beach all day if you don't start in the morning.

  6. #6
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    Jodi,

    I agree with Lara. You and your DH should feel free to start your own traditions. I'm sure your family will understand. I always make a turkey for Thanksgiving, but always a different recipe and the rest of the meal is also more recipe experimenting (I rarely cook the same thing twice even for dinner! ). Christmas Eve I usually do a seafood theme with dungenous crab, clams, shrimp etc. On Christmas Day, we might have prime rib or roast beef. Haven't decided yet. Variety is the spice of life IMHO. Experiment and have fun!

    jpap - Welcome to the Boards!

    Peggy

  7. #7
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    I agree - do something different. We do a big beef tenderloin on Christmas. Everyone looks forward to it. I bet they'll be surprised at how much they like having something different at Christmas, and after they eat they'll be asking you to make the same thing again next year!

  8. #8
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    Jodi,

    I agree with the wisdom here. It is your home and hosting family for Christmas presents you and your husband with the opportunity to start your own traditions. I imagine everyone will welcome the change after they've tasted your wonderful meal!

    I hosted Christmas Eve dinner last year- made my first roast beef and homemade "gourmet" macaroni and cheese (among other things) I had such fun- it was a gift to myself and my family. I'd love to continue this tradition, but we are all scattered to the in-laws this Christmas.

    Do your own thing! Julie
    If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in! Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends.

  9. #9
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    Turkey and turkey here. It's the only time of the year that we do turkey with all the fixings so it's always something to look forward to.

  10. #10
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    We usually do the traditional Thanksgiving with turkey, and occasionally ham, sides, etc.

    Christmas is usually not turkey. In the past few years, we've been doing a crown roast. Mom makes this...I believe they are pricey, but I'm not in charge of this, so I don't know. The sides are usually different than Thanksgving (no sweet potatoes...), always bread (mmmm....).

    I think you should do what you feel comfortable with -- go for a change. Try it, maybe they'll like the difference. And if not, it's only one year. They will survive! Good luck

    Heather

  11. #11
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    I agree with starting a new tradition. We did that. The first year we got all sorts of funny looks when everyone realized there was no turkey - but no one has done anything but applaud since.
    Our new christmas is either a ham or a pork loin as the main dish and then all of the sides and extras are polish foods. We have kielbasa and pirogi and stuffed cabbage and on and on - it is great.
    Last edited by laurenc; 11-07-2001 at 10:28 AM.

  12. #12
    DmOrtega Guest
    For our families, it's hard to break the turkey at Thanksgiving tradition. So, at Christmas the host has free choice on something else.

    Tell your parents how much you have enjoyed their Christmas dinners and look forward to many more. However, Christmas allows for more variety than Thanksgiving and it should be the choice of the host on what the menu is. When it's their turn, they can cook turkey, if they wish. Change is hard, but I think everyone will enjoy the variety when they see how good it turns out.

  13. #13
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    Welcome jpap!

    We usually do the turkey/turkey thing, although sometimes a ham on Christmas. I don't mind having turkey and all the fidings twice -- as someone else mentioned, it's the only time we do it all year. But, this thread has me thinking that a nice roast would be wonderful and different for Christmas this year. The most recent Cooks Illustrated has a recipe and directions for Beef Wellington, which would be fabulous but probably beyond my capabilities!

    Gaye

  14. #14
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    Start a new tradition! Go where no family member has gone before!

    We only do turkey on Thanksgiving, and it has to be traditional, very few new items or differently prepared items on that menu. (Oh, and I love the green bean casserole)

    Christmas day is usually ham. Ah, but Christmas eve... I have my DH='s family over and prepare something different every year. I learned this trick after crying in a chinese restaurant on our first Christmas eve together! I'll gladly go into debt charging a crown roast if necessary to avoid eating out....
    Peggy
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  15. #15
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    Since we are very seldom ever with family on either holiday, we don't generally stick with tradition every year. This year on Turkey day, DH is going to be underway so I will probably get together with another wife and do a modified Turkey dinner (not so many side dishes). Last year we had just gotten our household goods from our move and so we just grilled Rib Eyes and had some boiled shrimp together with really good baked potatoes. For us the holiday is not so much the food as it is spending time together.

    This year Christmas will be spent with my parents here in Hawaii but they are flying home Christmas Day so we will probably have something informal on Christmas Eve instead.

    That said, my mom usually does the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with a few new sides thrown in (she and my aunt trade off years for Christmas and Thanksgiving). On Christmas when its at my mom's she usually does a Prime Rib with the fixings.
    "You know I was talking to my friend Desdemona the other day she
    runs this space station and bake shop down near Boomtown. She told
    me that human beings are flawed individuals. The cosmic bakers
    took us out of the oven a little too early. And that's the
    reason we're as crazy as we are and I believe it." Jimmy Buffet, Fruitcakes, 1994

  16. #16
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    We usually do turkey for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, when I got married, I wound up cooking two Christmas dinners; one for my family and another, a few days later, for my husband's family. Since DH's family had also just had turkey, I cooked a crown roast of pork, stuffed with a stuffing made of bread and apples (from a December Good Housekeeping years ago). It was fabulous! I should note that stuffing is my favorite part, so I always look for "stuffable" holiday food. I have the recipe around somewhere if you want it.

  17. #17
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    LOL Barbara!

    I also like stuffable meals.

    Here are the last few christmas eve dinners I've done.

    Stuffed Cornish Hens
    Crown Roast of Pork Stuffed
    Stuffed Pork Chops
    Beef Roast with Burgundy Mushroom Stuffing!
    Peggy
    ...Wag more
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  18. #18

    Cool

    Start your own tradition.

    Since I only host Thanksgiving on alternate years, Christmas is my time to shine. Most of the time, I'll go international, although I've probably thrown in a turkey along the way. Depending upon who's invited, I've gone Greek, Mexican, Cuban, or just sort of Latin in general. Sometime I'd LOVE to do the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding thing (maybe this year?)

    My thinking is that Thanksgiving seems to be the more-or-less established National Turkey Day. To do a turkey dinner to that scale more than once a year, in my opinion kind of diminishes its uniqueness-- unless, of course, your family is REALLY into big turkey dinners...

    I'm known for rowing upstream, coming up with "surprise" meals. That's my tradition.

  19. #19
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    We NEVER have the same thing on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I never understood why some people would make the same big meal so close together, but that's probably just because I'm not a big fan of turkey. - I know, probably the ONLY person out there like that.
    Anyway - Thanksgiving at our house has alway been a HUGE turkey meal with ALL the fixings. Christmas, when my Grandma was alive, was always ham because it was tradition. The Christmas meal is slightly smaller than Thanksgiving, but still pretty big.
    Since my Grandma has passed, we have all sorts of different things for Christmas. Once or twice we had cornish hens - my absolute fave. But we often have filet mignon (sp?) - my Mom's fave. The only thing we ALWAYS have at Christmas is our traditional - Happy Birthday Jesus Cake.
    I really enjoy having the traditional turkey dinner - then whatever we feel like on Christmas. It makes it exciting.

  20. #20
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    DH's family always has turkey on both, and complains about it every time! Which begs the question.... "Why not try something different?" I think for them, the complaining is as much a part of the tradition as the turkey!!

    My family has always had a wonderful tradition, IMO, and DH is happy to oblige b/c he thinks it's a good idea. We always have the super-traditional Thanksgiving, with pretty much the same menu every year (although once I start hosting I plan to shake things up a bit!) But for Christmas, instead of a turkey dinner, we always have a huge, wonderful Christmas brunch. The morning starts off with my grandmother's famous Ginger Muffins (without these it's not Christmas for me!!) while the kids open stockings and presents. Brunch is served between 11 and 1, and usually consists of some sort of breakfast casserole, homemade biscuits, more muffins, ambrosia, and whatever else we can think of that's brunch-y. I love doing this, and it's so different from the Thanksgiving meal!

  21. #21
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    Rebecca - I would love the recipe for your grandmother's ginger muffins if you have it (and it's not a secret). They sound delicious!

  22. #22
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    thanksgiving is always turkey but christmas is prime rib or ham or lamb. one year we had a smoked turkey and that was good.

    everything else is pretty much the same. my vote is for prime rib

  23. #23
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    I made the same tradition change in our family a few years ago...something different on Christmas! Twice I have served the CL pork roast stuffed with spinach, pinenuts and raisins. Delicious, easy (if you have the butcher butterfly the roast!) and you can stuff the day before so just roast on Christmas. It slices so beautifully....very impressive!!

  24. #24
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    I grew up with a mother who was allergic to poultry, so we ALWAYS had a turkey and a ham for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Personally, I got tired of the same huge meal so close together, so when I started doing my own Holiday meals, we do a turkey for Thanksgiving, and I try to do a Prime Rib for Christmas. My best Christmas dinner, however, was Steak Au'Poivre... Filet Mignon covered in cracked black pepper, seared in butter, and then drizzled in a butter/garlic/wine sauce...served with Champagne & Feta Risotto and Roasted Garlic Butter Asparagus. YUM!
    Last edited by Jewel; 11-07-2001 at 01:51 PM.
    ~ "The right shoe can change your life...."- Cinderella ~

  25. #25
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    GayeC, Thanks for the welcome, I can't believe it took me so long to sign up. I've been watching from a distance, but everyone is so nice I had to join in. Thanks for making me feel a home! jpap

  26. #26
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    Goldilocks, I am at work now, but I will post the recipe when I get home!

    - rebecca

  27. #27
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    Growing up in Tennessee, my grandmother always did turkey/turkey, with a ham at Christmas to provide the option. DH's family usually did beef for Christmas, so I went along with that plan. One year, when I was young and stupid, I did partridge for Thanksgiving. They were good, but I think I lucked out.

    These days we have one vegetarian (aquavarian?) DD to complicate matters, so we have turkey (she just eats the sides) and then salmon for Christmas. Dungeness crab is in season in December, so we usually make something with it. Pre-Cooking Light days, we made crab fettucine alfredo, but this year I think I'll see if we can't do one of the light versions. If you get enough crab in there, surely it can't be bad

  28. #28
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    Mi-Mi's Ginger Muffins

    at Goldilock's request...

    Mi-Mi's Ginger Muffins

    1 cup butter or margarine
    1 cup sugar
    4 eggs
    1 cup light molasses
    4 cups sifted flour
    1/2 tsp. salt
    3 tsp. ginger
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1 cup sour cream
    2 tsp. baking soda
    2/3 cup chopped pecans
    2/3 cup raisins

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    Cream butter and sugar together til light, using mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Stir in molasses.

    Sift together flour, salt, ginger, and baking powder. Add gradually to molasses mixture.

    Mix soda and sour cream in a small bowl; beat with a fork until foamy. Add to mixture.

    Gently blend in nuts and raisins.

    Spoon into muffin tins coated with cooking spray, filling 3/4 full. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, watching carefully to prevent over-browning.

    Makes 2 dozen muffins.

    We serve these on Christmas morning. My grandmother usually makes the batter a day or two before, and stores it in a tupperware in the fridge. Then, Christmas, morning, we just bake them up and serve them warm with butter. Yum!

  29. #29
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    My family has always done turkey on Thanksgiving with traditional sides, (no green bean casserole or marshmellowy sweet pot. thing). Now, since we've taken it over from mom, we do add something new "to try" every year. This year my sister is hosting and BIL has to have a roasted turkey. Next year I'm going to have it....I want to do a fried turkey....BIL will freak!

    Christmas has been (when mom was in charge) ham, beef or baked stuffed shrimp sometimes turkey. Now when I have it, I get a Honey Baked Ham because SO can't get passed it.

  30. #30
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    We always do the traditional Thanksgiving, but Christmas is up for grabs. Everyone brings something to share, and we have a buffet dinner with lots of hors d-oevres We tend to have ethnic foods, with a ham for the main course. Christmas is a time to try new foods - most of us do not bring the same thing each year, so the menu varies quite a bit.

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