Giving Thanks for the Little Things

“You have a new Memory: Thanksgiving 2019.” This Photos notification abruptly interrupted my Zoom respite. And, of course, my nostalgically inclined self couldn’t resist an endearing, Apple generated walk down memory lane. So I clicked off Architectural Digest and onto memories from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For me, last Thanksgiving spent in the Big Apple was truly one to remember. I was on my gap year and free from the stresses of impending finals. My family stood on a packed parade route, shoulder to shoulder with throngs of complete strangers. We braved Black Friday sales in Soho, devoured nutella-dipped cinnamon donut holes at The Little Owl in the West Village and meandered down the High Line in Hudson Yards. My mirror selfies from the packed Kith store seem so foreign, so distant, so rebellious. Galavanting around Manhattan — maskless?! Imagine that today. Naturally, I couldn’t help feeling a bit, well, envious of 2019 Molly and her East Coast escapade. 

This Thanksgiving will certainly be different for everyone. No more traveling, dining rooms and kitchens filled with extended family, and fun friendsgiving. Yet, in an odd way, this year I feel more grateful and blessed than ever before. Quarantine has given me a chance to consider what is truly important, and in doing so, I feel more fulfilled, even happier. If I could take one lesson away from the pandemic, it would simply be to always smell the roses, and smell them like they’re an Eternal Fleur. Next Thursday, I’m challenging myself to forget memories of Tom the Turkey, Snoopy and Kermit the Frog, and instead, focus on friends, family and most importantly, food. 

With travel off the table, delicious dishes will surely steal the spotlight like never before. We all have a beloved Thanksgiving dish, and more often than not, it’s something beyond the classic Turkey with gravy. 

Opening a can of Ocean Spray’s Jellied Cranberry Sauce in all its sweet, gelatin glory is about as close as I’ll get to meal preparation. However, my friends prepare some of the most unique, delectable dishes that are must-haves for the culinarily inclined.

Madeleine Scalise raves about her favorite chestnut sausage stuffing. The Martha Stewart recipe calls for:

  • 1 loaf day-old bread or about 8 cups of cubed bread
  • 1 pound fresh chestnuts 

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage 

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped 
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped 

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage 
  • 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 
2 teaspoons coarse salt 

  • freshly ground pepper 

  • unsalted butter, for baking dish

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Cut an X in the pointed tip of the chestnut shell with a knife. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Boil chestnuts 2 minutes; remove pot from heat. Remove chestnuts with a slotted spoon and peel away shells. Add chestnuts into a bowl, followed by adding the bread to the bowl. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a frying pan, cook sausage until fully cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. Then, add onions, celery and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 15 to 17 minutes. Add to bread mixture.
  3. Add your stock or milk to the bread mixture; stir the mixture. Then, Add thyme, sage and parsley. Add the salt and season with pepper.
  4. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and add your stuffing mixture. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes; remove foil. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

I asked Kristin Merrilees, a fellow Her Campus writer, about her Thanksgiving go tos. She said: 

“Since my brother and I have long been both vegetarian and vegan, usually we have kind of a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner! I really love roasted potatoes, vegan mac and cheese and really any dish with chickpeas!!” 

No matter if you’re a traditionalist or a progressive when it comes to Thanksgiving fare, I hope you’re able to find comfort in the little things this holiday. Savor every spoonful of cranberry sauce, every last morsel of chestnut sausage stuffing and each forkful of falafel. If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s to appreciate each and every Facetime call, coffee run and chickpea.