Thanksgiving Traditions Never Die

Posted: November 23, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Military brats are often very serious about their family traditions.  When you spend the holidays in so many different places—usually far from extended family–it’s nice to have a few things that are consistent. With my family, while we loved Thanksgiving, it was always the day after we got most excited about. I know what you’re thinking. Black Friday.

Surprisingly, in a household where the female:male ratio was 4:1, I don’t think I even knew what Black Friday really was until I went off to college. For us, the day after Thanksgiving meant one thing—a tradition my parents were forced to abide by (even if it happened to be 75 degrees  outside) in order to prevent our fragile childhood psyches from crumbling at yet another stable foundation being stripped away.

We put up our Christmas tree. The day after Thanksgiving. No matter what.

Other than this tangled-light, Lifetime Treasury of Christmas, eggnog overdose extravaganza, the only other Thanksgiving tradition I recall being a big deal was a dish affectionally known as The Chowen Girl’s Holiday Fruit Salad. This was a fruit salad my sisters and I have prepared for as long as I can remember. We each had our assigned roles. Mollee cut the Marshmallowsbananas because she was the baby and this task only required a butter knife. Haylee chopped the apples because if I did, a whole apple usually ended up getting thrown at Mollee. And I, being the eldest, had the oh-so important job of making the sauce.

Yes, the three of us, all adults now, still make this salad when we’re together. Every freakin year. Like I said, for military brats, some traditions die hard. But here’s a little secret…one extended family members have probably been holding in for years.

The salad is disgusting (sorry Mom).

I suppose the fruit part is fine, but anything that includes 2 cups of rainbow marshmallows and maraschino cherries shouldn’t really be categorized as a “salad,” in my opinion. However, if you’re curious—or happen to have children under the age of 5—here’s the top secret recipe.

Chowen Girls Holiday Fruit Salad

3-4 large apples
3 bananas
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup maraschino cherries

Special Sauce
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp cinnamon

Peel apples, cut in eighths, core and slice crosswise. Peel bananas, slice 1/4 inch thick (dip in lemon juice to prevent browning). Place in large bowl. Add raisins, nuts , cherries and marshmallows. In small bowl mix cherry juice, mayo and cinnamon. Beat until smooth and pour over fruit mixture. Mix well and transfer into serving bowl . Garnish with cherries.
Yield: 6-8 servings (you’ll have leftovers for days…what does that tell you?)

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions or memories?

  1. lani dryja says:

    Love the flavor reality of the chowen fruit salad. When under 12, i bet it tasted awesome! New familt tradition for me is….competition. this year is best side competition. 10 to enter, winner takes prize! Then to donate it…it is thanksgiving!

  2. schatziali says:

    I’ve never been convinced mayo and fruit should be combined. Ew. Perhaps cool whip instead? That seems like a better ingredient. Oh, and btw this is making me think of a HIMYM episode where Marshall’s mother makes the mayo salad. hehe.

  3. hailstorm27 says:

    i laughed my butt off when iread is an odd salad…not gross to me because i am the traditionalist and that cinnamon cherry delight will always have a soft spot in my heart but believe it or not we did not have it this year and i did not miss it one bit. may be time to let it go. but the swiss vegetable medley…there is a side dish off the back of a campbell soup label i can get behind!! lololol

  4. LORI (L3) says:

    What about that canned cranberry sauce gel that Nana puts out every year? NO ONE EATS IT!!, not even one bite!!

  5. Aunt Tanya says:

    Whenever the kids Dad has been deployed I would try my very best to carry on the traditions that we have as a family. I felt it was the best thing I could do to ease the pain of him not being with us yet another holiday. Those traditions that I had more of a hand in weren’t a problem but those that their Dad was in charge of were a bigger challenge for me. I usually managed pretty well but it was so difficult to put on a smile and not let the ache in my heart overcome it. One year the kids said to me very kindly, ” Mom, this is nothing against you because we know you try to make the holidays special and continue our traditions but it’s just not right without Daddy here”. Oh how I completely understood the way they felt that day!

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