2020 The year of NOT NORMAL! I know we are all ready for this god forsaken year to be over! And it almost is, yay!!  But, even though this year has been absolutely awful I am hopeful that we can have a good Thanksgiving. It will just be my little family-me, my husband and our three boys, but I am grateful for that.  I cannot wait for all my chickens to get home and to share a meal and count our blessings, which are many. Don’t get me wrong, we have had a bad year too-our senior lost SO much last spring that he worked so very hard for, not mention his crappy first semester of college experience. Our junior has lost his first year on varsity, his first formal, a trip he worked so hard to be accepted to attend and our freshman has lost all the experiences that he has waited so patiently for 6 years to have at the school his brothers attended.  It has been hard as a parent to hold my kids as they cry and to be the strong one and tell them that it will be ok even though these once in a lifetime experiences will be missed. It is hard to not be angry, but I am going to focus on all that we do have!  We have each other, our health, a job, a house and a future. We will be Thankful! 
I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner, yes we do dinner at 7pm, every year since I got married almost 20 years ago. I wanted to start traditions for my new family that could hopefully be passed down.  My mom passed down the cornbread dressing and Ritz pie (I will get to that one later-but it is AWESOME!) and I started the tradition of Crab Cakes and Champagne as an appetizer to ring in the holiday season.  Everyone looks forward to it each year and it has become my contribution to the family traditions.
I think that traditions are so important in families.  They create memories and feelings of comfort and security.  Don’t be afraid to host Thanksgiving and actually cook Thanksgiving.  It’s not that hard-it’s just dinner.  People are there to be together and celebrate the season.  Seriously, just pour really good wine or cocktails and they will never notice the food.
Start small and come up with a menu that you can assign dishes to people to bring if you are having people over.  If you are not having guests this year then pick just a few recipes you can make and order in the rest! Do not kill yourself cooking for a week! Decide on which dish(s) you want to make and make it!  I promise it will be fabulous and you can do it!  And, the next year you can add another dish to your repertoire.
The trick to hosting Thanksgiving or any dinner party is to be organized.  I am not saying that you need to start three weeks in advance-that is just crazy and exhausting!  Once you finalize your plans of who, when and where, sit down and create a menu, a time line of the day of the event and a to-do list.  Don’t get too ambitious-just make the turkey and two side dishes. Have guests bring desserts or buy the desserts.  If someone wants or has to have a particular dish then have them bring it. You do not need 400 side dishes and desserts!
Creating a time line for the day is so important. If you are having dinner at 7pm you don’t want to chill the wine at 6:50pm.  Start with the time you want to eat and work your way back. And, keep your kitchen clean while you cook. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, wipe up the counter after each task, put trash in the trash can.  Stay clean and you will feel organized. And put people to work! Get the kids to empty the dishwasher or take out the full trash or put ice in the water glasses. 
Here is a rough time line of my Thanksgiving Day/Week.
Monday-  Read through recipes and buy groceries and wine. Put frozen turkey in fridge to thaw-it takes a few days
Tuesday–  Buy flowers
Wednesday- If you have time make the dessert
Thanksgiving Day
10:30am   Set the table-use your best stuff!  Its a holiday and you have a dishwasher
                    so go ahead and use it!
11am   Lay out the serving dishes and spoons
            Turn on the oven(s)
            Lay out the recipes and ingredients for each dish
11:30am Turn on some music, have a glass of wine (yes you can drink during the
         day-its a holiday!) and have fun!
         Take thawed/cleaned turkey out of the fridge and let come to room    
12noon   Make both of the side dishes and gravy
2pm  Prepare turkey and get it in the oven
3pm  Make the dessert and get it in the oven
4pm  Chill the wine/beer. Fill the water glasses
6pm  Check on turkey-it should be done.  Remove from oven and let rest
6:30pm   Carve turkey and place it and the side dishes on the table
7pm    Eat and Enjoy

This is my usual Thanksgiving Menu: