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Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes as Christmas Songs

Thanksgiving marks the official beginning of the holiday season. As families gather to celebrate, give thanks, and, of course, stuff their bellies with tons of delicious food, the eternal question begins to swirl around: Is it too early for Christmas music?

The answer is no. In fact, I believe that Thanksgiving encapsulates the best combination of all: good food and festive music. It is absolutely integral to the turkey and Black Friday experiences to put on your holiday favorites. It is important to note, however, that each Thanksgiving dish has a particular vibe as it sits atop the dining room table. I made it my mission this week to assign each dish a Christmas song that matches that vibe. Enjoy!

Bread Rolls – “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson

Starting off strong with my favorite starter, bread rolls are the obvious first thing to grab to kick off Thanksgiving dinner right. The tricky part is eating enough of them to keep you satisfied before the main course, but not enough to ruin your appetite. “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson has the same exact energy once the holiday season rolls around. As a relatively new Christmas song, it’s a good one to start with to get those spirits high. However, as amazing as the song is, make sure not to listen to it too much at the start of the season. It will be played constantly on the radio right until the 26th, so moderate your consumption before the main event!

Cornbread – “My Only Wish (This Year)” by Britney Spears

Britney is free! And, right in time for the holiday season! With a happy, pop vibe, “My Only Wish (This Year)” provides the perfect zesty and sweet mood for the start of the season, just like cornbread. The start of the meal should be light and spirited, and this combination of food and song is simply exquisite. 

Mashed Potatoes – “Wrap Me Up in Your Love” by John Legend

For our first side dish, I chose a lesser-known Christmas song, but one I believe perfectly captures the feeling of eating mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner: John Legend’s “Wrap Me Up in Your Love.” It’s warm, it’s creamy, it’s delicious, it’s mouth watering… wait… which one am I talking about again?

Corn – “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms

It’s a classic. It’s buttery. It pops. It rocks. It makes you want to get up and dance. I love corn, and I love this holiday staple. “Jingle Bell Rock” was made for eating corn on Thanksgiving. No, I will not elaborate further. 

Cranberry Sauce – “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives

What’s more holly and jolly than the bright red, wiggly, Jello-like substance that comes in cans and is only served once every year? Cranberry sauce is another traditional, New England side dish that will leave you grinning, just like this classic song from the 1998 film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie. Have a holly and jolly Christmas, indeed. 

Squash – “Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer” by Elmo & Patsy

This silly song can only be used to describe one fall-grown vegetable. Run over by a reindeer. Squash. Get it?

Yams – “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt

I’m not entirely sure what yams are, but I’ve heard they’re delicious. I’m also not entirely sure what happens in the song “Santa Baby,” but I highly enjoy listening to it. Something about the bass vocals just screams “yams” to me. 

Green Beans – “Last Christmas” by Wham!

Every year, I pile delicious-looking green beans on my plate and, every year, I am betrayed by the bitter taste and squishy texture. Something similar happens to George Michael in “Last Christmas.” We get each other’s pain. 

Turkey – “Wizards in Winter” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. It’s the climax of the Thanksgiving meal. It all builds up to this juicy and tender meat. The only song that can match the importance of Thanksgiving turkey is this rock-classic by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. “Wizards in Winter” will have you up, head-banging along as you digest the delicious main course you just devoured. 

Stuffing – “Winter Wonderland” by Michael Bublé

Stuffing is turkey’s sidekick, and that warm, breaded taste is the perfect compliment to any part of the main course. The only thing that can recreate the warm feeling I experience while eating stuffing is Michael Bublé’s rendition of “Winter Wonderland.” Both are sure to put me in the holiday spirit.

Gravy – “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Brian Setzer

Gravy can be a really good addition to your turkey dinner. But, only if it’s the perfect temperature and consistency. Otherwise, it gets a little slimy, just like the Grinch. 

Nuts – “Sleigh Ride” by the Boston Pops Orchestra

Although not super common in the traditional Thanksgiving meal, some families (like mine) insist on having a variety of nuts as a dessert option to stay true to the original Pilgrim-Wampanoag feast. There is no better Christmas song to represent the cracking of nuts as “Sleigh Ride,” specifically the orchestral version performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra. The iconic cracks and horse noises in the song are sure to get you pumped as our main course comes to a close and dessert begins. 

Apple Pie – “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by *NSYNC

Pie represents the best part of Thanksgiving: dessert. Apple pie is one of the closing foods of the night, and no song better matches the feeling of being stuffed-to-the-brim, but desperate for one more slice of sweet, delicious goodness than “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.” It is, for sure, a closing song that will wrap up the night and send you to bed with dreams of snowflakes and sugar plums.

Pumpkin Pie – “Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man This Christmas)” by The Weather Girls

Pumpkin pie is the best dish in the traditional Thanksgiving feast, so, obviously, it deserves the best Christmas song. This Weather Girls song is everything. It’s slow and sensual. It’s lively and fun. It’s the epitome of holiday disco. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, you will be up, dancing and singing along as soon as the first notes play. Pumpkin pie and “Dear Santa” give me the same level of excitement and joy—the perfect finale for a glorious night of food. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!

Lara is a sophomore at Connecticut College, where she is pursuing a double major in environmental studies and economics with a minor in dance. Her interests include choreography, sustainability, the performing arts, and conservation.
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