Overdosing on Turkey?

It has been many years since I have made a turkey for Thanksgiving not because I have anything against turkey, but because I have not hosted Thanksgiving for many years.  That honor has fallen to my sister for the last several years.

Ever since my older brother was killed by a drunk driver in 1997, it has become very important to my family to try to spend these family holidays together.  Christmas is hard to arrange but Thanksgiving is definitely do-able, so ever since then we have made the effort to be together for the holiday.

For several years after my brother died we switched things up and traded off hosting “turkey day.”  But in 2002 my dad was diagnosed with an incurable cancer and though his life was extended for several years by three major surgeries, over time it became more difficult for he and my mom to travel.  So it came to be that my sister, who lives in Jacksonville, began to host Thanksgiving.  It was only a three-hour drive for my parents (and for us as well) so while it was difficult it was not an impossibility for my parents and it meant we could still all be together for the holidays.

Being together for the holiday became even more important after my niece (my sister’s oldest daughter) was killed in a traffic accident in 2007.  She was only 19 years old.  We had one more Thanksgiving that year with my dad, and then he passed away in August of 2008 after battling cancer for six years.

So once again this year we will gather at my sister’s.  In spite of the aching emptiness caused by missing our loved ones, we manage to enjoy sharing memories.  My sister has six surviving children and even if the nieces and nephews (my children and hers) don’t see each other all year, they always have a blast together that day.  Family rocks.

So what exactly is the point of my title: “Overdosing on Turkey?”  Well, because I don’t cook the turkey for Thanksgiving, I do make turkey for my family for Christmas.  And several years ago I figured out some tricks to ensure that we are not eating “turkey spam” five days after Christmas.

My first strategy is to cook my turkey on Christmas Eve.  Mind you we don’t eat it on Christmas Eve.  I usually try to fix something unusual and different that night – a variety of hors doeuvres can be fun.

The reason I decided to start cooking the turkey on Christmas Eve is because a few years ago I had the flu on Christmas day and by the time I got around to getting the turkey in we didn’t eat until 10 pm – not my idea of a merry Christmas.

So now I cook my turkey and stuffing on Christmas Eve.  At that point I employ my secret weapon: I freeze half of the turkey and stuffing.  More about that later.  On Christmas day my daughter and I make all the side dishes: mashed potatoes, gravy, maybe a squash casserole or yams, peas, and rolls.  I simply heat up the turkey and stuffing.  And then we have an awesomely yummy dinner.

After we eat I freeze half of the gravy to go with the turkey and stuffing I’ve already frozen.  We still have enough leftovers to have another little feast the day after Christmas which is a nice respite for me.

So what do I do with the frozen turkey, stuffing, and gravy?  That is our New Year’s Day dinner!  Hallelujah!  I don’t have to cook on New Year’s Day either!  Again, all I do is make some side dishes, heat up the turkey, stuffing and gravy and it’s déjà vu all over again.  After a week of eating normally we are all ready to have another turkey feast and again, I don’t really have to do anything special on New Year’s Day.  Which means I get to watch football!  Seriously.  I love football.

So give my secret weapon a try.  You just might get hooked.

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  • I know why you do Turkey on Christmas…

    Because you buy that el cheapo bird right after Thanksgiving!

    I was going to stop by your house on my way to Miami for January 1st….but not if you’re serving that wretched bird. I loathe turkey; it’s disgustingly bland. And all these people who say they love it I want to call BS on. Proof = Ever see turkey on a restaurant menu?

    Sorry to hear about all that tragedy that’s hit home. Terrible.

    • Anonymous

      Well, if you actually DID stop by I’d make you a steak…or a special request…let me know! 🙂

      Actually…I love when Cracker Barrel has their turkey and stuffing on the menu but they only do it as a special so don’t get to have it often.

      You give me too much credit for planning ahead. I buy my bird within three days or less of Christmas! It takes up too much room in the fridge! (I usually buy around a 22 lb.-er)

      And I do like turkey. Because I make it awesomely. And also because I love stuffing. I have my own special recipe…but since I only make my stuffing when I’m making turkey, it’s a special deal-i-o.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. And for the kind thoughts. They are appreciated.

  • The Mrs.

    Just visiting from the hip homeschool hop. Great thanksgiving tips and I’ve enjoyed looking around a little at your site. I’ll be back – I look forward to reading more.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for visiting! I hope you’ll come back many times and interact with me and my readers.

  • Acomputermom

    hmm, you just opened a whole new world in terms of holiday cooking. I’m feeling soo liberated. I will definitely freeze those leftovers for New Years!! (visiting via Hip Homeschool Hop)

    • Anonymous

      I can not tell you how much I have LOVED following this plan. Like I said, by the time New Year’s Day rolls around we are all ready for another dose of that Christmas dinner goodness, and it makes the day so much easier for me. I wish I had thought of it sooner.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Anonymous

    Awesome idea! I made the turkey for the first time in years this year. I messed up cooking times, we ate lunch, and all of a sudden realize the bird is done! It ended up being dry. I forsee a lot of soup in our future – 21 pound bird for 4 people…..

    • Anonymous

      Turkey pot pie is another good alternative. Of course, some yummy gravy can make up for a lot too.

      Since I didn’t make the turkey for Thanksgiving I’m already craving leftovers. Looking forward to Christmas (and New Year’s) dinner!

  • Sle4life

    I get my turkey for free from my local grocery store for spending at least $50 per week for 6 weeks. I spend $100 so I split it up and do 2 transactions each week for 3 weeks and boom FREE TURKEY! We smoke or deep fry ours and it is yummy and delicious every time!

    • Anonymous

      Free turkey! Can’t beat that. Would love to get in on that deal! 🙂

  • I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your brother. (I lost my dad this year). It’s amazing how such a loss makes us so much more focused on prioritizing family. Sounds like you have some great strategies as well – way to go!

    • Anonymous

      Charlene:

      Thanks for stopping by and thank you for your kind thoughts. You have my sincere sympathy in the loss of your dad. My dad passed away (as I noted in my post) two years ago. I will always miss him. My youngest adored my dad and still talks about him. A few months after my dad passed my son asked if we could go to heaven to visit grandpa. If only!

      May you have a blessed holiday season and keep those memories alive! One plaque I bought for my mom and dad after my brother died says, “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” It’s so true.

  • Anne, I’m so sorry to hear about all of the tragic losses your family has experienced. It must be terribly difficult. I thank God all of the time that He spared my sister’s life in her near-fatal car accident in 2000. Sometimes when we argue it’s easy to forget, but once I remember her lying in a coma…I quickly remember how thankful I am to still have her.

    On a more light-hearted note…we never seem to have much leftovers at my moms. We’re a bunch of big fat eaters and we eat everything right then (and none of them even like turkey…but they eat it all!). We’d probably eat our plates if we could chew them without chipping our teeth.

    • Anonymous

      I am thankful too that your sister survived. It has been very hard on my family to deal with all the loss. Not sure if you can even say we’ve “dealt” with it. I know that for me, I cannot even accept the death of my niece. It’s just too hard.

      I think that the reason that we have so many leftovers is that my family, at least on my mom’s side, always cooks enough for an army. It’s almost like a genetic thing!