It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, one of the best days of the year for me. I love to create food to share with the people I love and creating that feast with my husband and my children is, in a word, transformative.

Of course, it would be wonderful if the house would magically transform itself into a pristine environment, but I’ve come to appreciate that our house is very much a microcosm of life: kinetic energies mingling together in an environment full of potentiality and chaos. Even so, a not perfectly put together house that smells of pie, veg and whatever meat is the current offering is comforting. If there are a few socks the kitties have stolen milling about, if every bookshelf is overstuffed and haphazardly double-stacked and if every square inch of the fridge and pantry is covered with photos and random artwork well…welcome to my world.

My daughter is waking up in her bed this morning—at least I hope she wakes while it’s still morning as she’s still sleeping as I type—home from UW for the weekend. She’s put in her request that we bring up all the candle making supplies Thursday after everyone is gone and the cleaning up is accomplished. She wants to get an early start Friday making votives for Christmas.

Today it’s nearly 50 degrees here, about a half hour south of Milwaukee. Perfect pie baking and candle making weather! The doors can stay open, flushing the scents of autumn through our home. She says she misses that at school which cracks me up, because she’s never really been interested in candle making. She likes the candles, but it’s my son who helps me every fall and every spring creating our mini-wax-creations-of-love.

So this year, the energies flowing around me are converging into a stew of contentment and anticipation over what can happen surrounded by family.

My parents are coming tomorrow and we’ll serve all the traditional things they remember from their parents—with the exception of the pan-ultimately icky Jello mold corrupted by that sour cream layer of grossness my mom insisted on making every year which every child hates. At heart, and in the taste-buds, I am still a child, a purist of the highest order, when it comes to Jello. Some things should be sacred. Not-so-sorry, mom, but it’s not on the menu.

I digress…

This year my husband and I have picked out a handful of new dishes to try. This is huge since we’ve always been about tradition for Thanksgiving dinner, but this year has been full of firsts. This year has literally scared the (add the expletive of your choosing) out of us. We’ve started a new business built around our mutual love for all things Scottish, we’ve ridden the waves of the building market, and we’ve jumped into book publishing with eyes toward expansion and diversification.

Yep, it’s been quite a ride. And it’s far from over. But each new journey begins with shutting the door on your safe place and stepping onto a new path.

So, consciously or not, this has translated into Cranberry-Meringue Pie, Pumpkin-Chocolate Torte with Pumpkin Whipped Cream (which thank the spirits of the season we made early because I love pumpkin and chocolate), which is going directly in the garbage with mom’s Jello recipe, and turkey breast stuffed with walnut and mushroom stuffing. All the traditional items will be there as well. I’ll let you know what turns out and what we shrug off as culinary waste.

         This morning as I type this blog, which was supposed to be about Thankfulness, I’m smiling. Tomorrow, the house won’t be perfect; a flaw that will not go unnoticed nor uncommented upon. Something will be under or overdone. Someone will say something outrageous and most likely hurtful. And, on a day filled with old favorites and new potential masterpieces, I will be celebrating the moments as they happen, letting it all wash over me, grateful for the meaningful moments and the moments of absolute absurdity with those I love. 

So, I raise a figurative glass to you, my friends! May Thanksgiving find you well and leave you better. May you anticipate the up-coming holidays with love in your hearts and courage in your souls. May you always be warm, well-fed and loved.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, Leigh.

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  1. topchef says:

    The mix of traditional fare and fun new recipes is a great idea. Whoever said that you must serve green bean casserole every year (although we might just do that again this year under fear of mutiny). Have fun with the candles and don’t sweat the cleaning! Happy Thanksgiving Leigh.


  2. I look forward to Thanksgiving all year. It’s my favorite holiday next to Christmas, simply because of all the joy and memories this day brings. The candles and traditions, whether new or old, that you and your family share sound wonderful. I must say I laughed at the jello story, since everyone has a family member who does something you’re not too fond of, but go along with most of the time because you love them 🙂 Have a Happy Thanksgiving Leigh, and thank you for this joyous post!


    • leighmorgan1 says:

      I’m a Jello snob. It must be pure! The only caveat, whipped cream may be added on top after the fact on an as needed basis. 🙂


  3. Mary says:

    Now you’ve got my mouth watering! I think I can feel my hips expand just reading your blog. So wonderful that your daughter is back, appreciative and excited about the family traditions you created. And how wonderful that you all are open and adventurous to culinary experiments! Yes it is all a blessing when shared with people you love: the meaningful and the absurd. Happy Thanksgiving!


    • leighmorgan1 says:

      Thanks, Mary! It’s the absurd, we remember and with time giggle about and that’s all good. Hoping the experiments go well 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!


  4. Betsy Norman says:

    What a beautiful and honest post! Love it! This year I’ll be teaching the significant others of my spawn how to cook Thanksgiving dinner – Norman style! Where everything starts with a stick of butter!


  5. leighmorgan1 says:

    Betsy, it’s hard to go wrong when everything starts with butter! Butter, cheese and cream…HEAVEN! Gotta love living in Wisconsin at holiday time. Pretty exciting that you’re teaching your craft to the significant others; may they learn it well :). Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!


  6. Mona Risk says:

    Thanksgiving is one holiday where I sit back and relax, per order of my son and his wife. They took over the tradition of turkey and others. My son names his turkeys. After Ro-Birda, New-Birda, Al-Birda, Birdilla,…this year it’s Lovebird in honor of my niece and her fiance. They just got engaged and are invited. You should see the lavish table my son set. Since I’m not allowed to help, I take pictures, compliment and play with the children..


    • leighmorgan1 says:

      That sounds perfect to me! Can’t wait for the photos! Have a Wonderful Celebration and congratulations to your niece and her fiance ❤


  7. Mona Risk says:

    PS. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, authors and readers.


  8. E. Ayers says:

    Oh, it all sounds wonderful. I hope the day brought you good cheer and the candle making went well.


  9. leighmorgan1 says:

    Dear E, I tried to add a photo of all the votives my children and I made in a day and a half….156 give or take a few candles, 22, or so, pours. Wonderful every way we look at. So I guess it was a pretty good way to start the season! 🙂 Hope you have had a joyful holiday. Thanks for asking about the candles. 🙂


  10. Joan Reeves says:

    May I wish you a belated Happy Thanksgiving, Leigh. I’m just now home and trying to get caught up. I must say that cranberry meringue pie sounds interesting. How was it?


    • leighmorgan1 says:

      It was great! We got the recipe from Eating Well Magazine, one of my all time favorite cooking magazines, and it turned out beautifully. The cranberry was just sour enough to give it a full-flavor of mouth puckering and the meringue was sweet and creamy. Very good. Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful as well!


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