First off, I don't mean the war on Thanksgiving. I think that's a thing. People get mad, frustrated that Christmas is eclipsing Thanksgiving. Christmas trees up before Thanksgiving? An elf drowns a baby reindeer. Or so the plentiful Save Thanksgiving e-cards claim on social media. But when those twinkly lights first make their appearance, I get excited. I love the Christmas season. I love being surrounded by happy songs, bright lights, and that heavenly Christmas tree smell. Plus, I get to bake as many cookies as I want, unjudged. Win!
Don't get me wrong; I'm all for celebrating Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. Well, I love the traditional Thanksgiving. I enjoy gathering with friends and family, sharing what we're thankful, and taking time to be grateful for the wonderful relationships in our lives. But for me, a wife and mother, Thanksgiving is WAY more work than Christmas. Christmas prep is spread out over weeks; Thanksgiving happens all within a few days. It isn't like you can make stuffing three weeks in advance. Christmas is relaxing, because most of the work is already done. Christmas dinner has lower expectations than Thanksgiving, because Thanksgiving is all about the food.
And the shopping. I'm not a fan of stores being open on Thanksgiving. I've worked retail, my husband currently works retail. Opening on Thanksgiving steals time and creates unnecessary stress. End rant on Black Thursday.
Back to the food, and good ol' Turkey day. The Thanksgiving War began a couple of Thanksgivings after my sister's then-boyfriend, now-hubby became comfortable with our family. Comfortable enough to call us out on the jello salad.
As far back as I can remember, we've had a jello salad at Thanksgiving. A lime jello salad, to be exact. The ingredients consist of lime jello, cream cheese, and crushed pineapple, all swirled together in one green, gooey pan of deliciousness. You see, I'm in the pro-jello salad camp. As it turns out, the lime jello salad ended up being a divisive issue during those last few years when my parents, sister and I all got together for Thanksgiving (before we scattered across the country. Blame jobs if you will, but I blame the lime jello salad).
It started out with gentle teasing over the green goo. That evolved, year by year, as the teasing relationship within our family dynamic grew to extremes. It virtually took body armor to attend a meal with us. Eventually, my dad and sister abandoned my mother and me for the anti-lime jello salad side. Defectors! Traitors! My dad had apparently made behind the scenes jokes for years, but because my mom's mom was the creator of the cursed side dish, it didn't come fully out until we no longer lived close enough for her to bring it. When it turned up on the Thanksgiving dinner table without Grandma placing it there, the stage was set. It was only a matter of time, and a newcomer, until our family would be torn apart.
Not really. Those who like it, eat it. Those who don't, don't. There's still teasing, I'm sure. But I'm naturally nostalgic, and it reminds me of a childhood when Thanksgiving was spent with extended family. Three Thanksgivings in Alaska meant it still made its annual appearance, despite my husband's dislike of it. As it turns out, one of his friends defected to my side (HA!). Generally, newcomers to our family don't like it. It is, after all, lime green. But that's okay-- it leaves more for me!
I did a little informal FaceBook poll to see how the rest of the populace felt about jello salad. Out of 14 respondents (myself included), only 4 people claim to dislike it. One described it as, "It is the most amazing thing to have been put on this earth…Eating a bowl is like being snuggled up with puppies and rainbows and unicorns and everything else wonderful…but seriously, good stuff." So, unscientifically, for every 14 people coming to your Thanksgiving, 10 of them will clearly want a jello salad. You may want to adjust your menu accordingly.
Has jello salad had a negative impact on your family? Share your story in the comments below. Only support here, people. Only support.