My Frugal Thanksgiving

Work Cafeteria

Thanksgiving is a joyous occasion. It marks the start of the holiday season when friends and family gather around the table to enjoy more than just good food.

Morning Ritual

Holiday Bowl (2006)

Some of my fondest memories take me back to Thanksgiving Day. Growing up, the neighborhood kids used to always gather at the park on Thanksgiving morning to play a game of flag football. This tradition continued for many years, and is still something I took part in, even after I graduated from college. I vividly remember playing in a “Mud Bowl” about three years ago, in what turned out to be our largest gathering ever. We had so many people show up that we had to split everyone into four teams and run a three game playoff to determine a champion.

Then there was the year when we drove up over twenty miles North to take on another team in an “away” game. The High School field we thought we could play on turned out to be closed to the public on Thanksgiving. The security guards locked the gate beforehand, so there was no way to get into the school. Not to be deterred, we racked our brains for a few hours, trying our best to find a “leak” in the security system. After several unsuccessful attempts at getting in, we finally decided to just play outside, where off into the distance, a muddy field lay waiting. Even in spite of the rain and cold, we must have played for over four hours that day. I still remember leaving the field, thinking, “I’m so tired right now.” But to this day, those four hours remain some of the fondest memories I have of playing sports. 

Pre-Dinner Bonding

Last Black Friday I spent $$$ (2006)

After the morning football game, I usually head home to clean up and catch the remainder of the afternoon NFL game. Not much happens during the mid-afternoon, and sometimes I even decide to take a nap to get some rest in (it also helps to speed up the time to dinner).

In my family, it’s customary not to eat too much during breakfast or lunch, since we all know that a mighty feast is waiting just around the corner. The venue of the event changes place every year, but no matter where it is, it’s always a good time! I usually start to head out at around 4:30 PM. If one of the family members is hosting the event, then I may even try to get there a little early so that I can spend some extra time with them.

We usually just watch TV, chat, play board games, and read newspapers. Most everyone likes to grab the ads for Black Friday, and this usually makes for a great topic while we all wait for dinner to be served. Even though I haven’t been purchasing any consumer items on Black Friday these past few years, I still find it fun to take part in the discussion. If I’m able to locate a good deal for a family member, even better. The family bonding time is what’s important.

Dinner Feast

Garlic Mash (My Signature Dish)

At last, dinner is served! The family and I gather around the big dining room table, all eyes fixated on the astonishing number of dishes that appear before us. A typical Thanksgiving dinner will feature: Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, honey glazed ham, biscuits, cornbread, potluck, apple pie, pumpkin pie, cheesecake, ice cream (as you can see, we like desserts), and my very own garlic mash potatoes.

I usually whip up the spuds after the morning football game. The recipe is simple enough, so it doesn’t take me more than an hour or two to put together from scratch. I just make sure I have all the ingredients beforehand, namely: big bag of potatoes, fresh garlic, fresh basil, buttermilk or half-and-half, salt and pepper, and my secret ingredient – a hint of cayenne pepper. That’s all there is to it, so for less than $20, I am able to purchase a ticket to my favorite dinner of the year!

Who said Thanksgiving had to be expensive to be memorable? The football games, family bonding, and turkey buffet are all I need on this special day. Anything extra, is just gravy!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!


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