I worked full time in Corporate America for 18 years – was a mom for 13 of those. I was always bound determined to create an atmosphere for my kids that would never be hindered by me working. So I set out to create traditions that I could actually follow through with, even when I was working. It helped me so much as I would feel mom guilt and get overwhelmed because I would know that I always had my plans set and they worked. Not sure if that completely made sense – but it was a game changer for us. I thought I would share with y’all a few of our Brown Family Traditions that still hold true today as I am home full time and have evolved as my kids have gotten older. I want to just share to inspire – and maybe help you brainstorm something that works for your family. PLEASE don’t let these put any pressure on yourself or make you feel like you have dropped the ball – you are doing a DAMN good job! Believe it or not though – these traditions have actually removed pressure for us. I am going to share lots more traditions over the next few weeks (advent activity calendar for example), but these I am sharing today are coming up in the next week around Thanksgiving:).
Girl’s Christmas Weekend – this is probably our most favorite weekend of the year for all 5 of us. Every November, the weekend before Thanksgiving, my boys go hunting at our family land and cabin. We send them off and then me and my girls decorate the whole house for Christmas while they are gone. We get glitter everywhere, eat what we want, stay up late, wear PJs, watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music – even all sleep in the same bed. I love this tradition for many reasons – especially that even my almost 15 year old still gets excited about it – but mainly because it takes some pressure off me. Meaning I never have to question or plan when I am going to decorate – it is always planned for me. That may sound silly – but that is a huge relief. We all know – the boys aren’t here to drive us crazy and complain – it’s perfect :). This is actually happening this weekend and I CAN NOT WAIT. Also make sure you follow along on IG, we are going to share how we decorate too! (Pic from 2 years ago ☺️)
Black Friday = Christmas Lights Day – I have a confession….I don’t shop Black Friday. I know, kinda insane of me. But it’s just not my thing. It stresses me out. Many years ago, after we moved into our home and my mom and stepdad moved into the same culdesac, we declared Black Friday as Christmas Lights Day! Every day after Thanksgiving, we spend it outside decorating the houses and putting lights up. Shane and Jake, with the help of Owen, help each other with the big ladder and put up the lights while me and mom and the girls decorate our front porches, put wreaths up, serve hot cocoa, and take tons of pics. We bundle up and have so much fun! A couple reasons why this tradition helps so much – Shane knows when the lights are going up – I don’t have to nag or bug him to get them up – we all know. Also – no stressing over Black Friday – we are busy :). Its an all day/night occasion that usually ends with pizza at mom’s. Love love love it!
And last but not least….
Thanksgiving Eve! One thing I have learned over the years is that sometimes the actual holidays get to be so crazy and the actual day just comes and goes so fast we have no time to see and feel it all, you know? Don’t get me wrong – we have so much with our family and I am so very grateful, but I have found by creating smaller get togethers with just immediate family can be so awesome during the holidays. Over a decade ago, I created one that we all love – THANKSGIVING EVE! Since me and my sisters are all married now and Thanksgiving ends up being running from one house to the next for each of us – I wanted to have a small party to enjoy just us. It began because one year I was thinking about it – and I just happened to go to Atlanta Bread Company. They had a sandwich on the menu that was SO FREAKING GOOD. It was essentially, Thanksgiving on bread! I told Shane about it and said that I think I can recreate it…and well the rest is history! We now have Thanksgiving Eve sandwiches every Thanksgiving Eve and it may be my favorite meal of the year. Something so small has become one of our favorite traditions! All of my Christmas decor is up by that point and my house is so cozy and I so look forward to it. I have a sweatshirt that I wear every year now that simply says “thankful” – yep I am that mom. And I love it! So let me share with you our Thanksgiving Eve Sandwiches recipe! It is really simple, but SO DAMN GOOD! Fair warning: I don’t really do measurements – I eyeball everything 🙂
Bread – we always get Pepperidge Farm hard varieties – they are the short, fancier loaves at Walmart :). We love Potato bread and Wheatberry!
Turkey – ok I cheat here. We always order 8-10lbs of the most amazing smoked turkey from a local BBQ place here. You can most certainly make your own – just don’t use sandwich meat. It just wont be as good – you want a rustic and thick sandwich!
Provolone, lettuce, tomato, and red onion
Dressing Mayo – I make this! All it is a whole container of mayonnaise mixed with sage, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and a couple dashes of tabasco. You want this to have a strong sage taste so you can get that “dressing” taste in your sandwich. Taste as you go – if y’all like mayo, you might not need as much – I like mine to be strong and be able to taste the seasoning and not mayo – hope that makes sense. Make it ahead of time, cover and put in fridge so it is nice and ready by dinner time!
Cranberry sauce – the BEST part! You can most certainly use canned cranberry sauce – it is still tasty. BUT we like to make it homemade so it is warm and delicious. Here are my ingredients:
One can of jellied cranberry sauce
One can of jellied cranberry sauce that has the berries still in it.
Ok – I get a big skillet and cook down the whole berries and both cans of cranberry sauce. I never let it boil too much so it doesn’t scorch. Then I pour in a cup of OJ in at a time. It just depends on how thin you want it. We like it thick, but thin enough to spread on the sandwiches. You want your berries to burst so you can smash them all down. Keep it chunky, but spreadable. Once all that is cooked together and simmering – add in brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. It will not be sweet enough if you skip the brown sugar, but you can totally taste as you go – trust me – we totally do because we love it so much. I keep saying “we” because my Shane is all up in my business when I cook this sauce. This is BY FAR is most favorite meal of the year and he loves to smash the berries :).
Ok then you have your peeps make their own sandwiches! They can add what they want and make a mess – it is messy, but dear LORD it is good! We always have sweet potato fries too!
This would be a great meal after Thanksgiving too so you can use up your leftovers and especially if family is still in town. It is such a simple idea, but so worth it 🙂 I will share more of the process on IG next week when I actually make it 👍🏼
Y’all let me know if you make this – you won’t be disappointed!
Happy Memory Making y’all!