Giving Thanks for Our Stories

Have you ever been to a Thanksgiving dinner where each guest is supposed to say something they’re thankful for? Don’t you just hate that?

Honestly, it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so darn lame. How many times can you hear “I’m thankful for my family,” or “I’m thankful for good friends,” without wanting to stab yourself with the olive pick?

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But then I thought, hey, what if we spiced things up just a little? What if we were thankful for everything? After all, one thing I hear a lot (at least in church) is that we should be thankful in all circumstances.

Which can be a real challenge. 

Click Here to Jump to Soup Recipe

I mean, what if you’re newly married and moving to a different state and the vehicle you bought two weeks ago breaks down and you wind up hitchhiking back to the nearest town where you find out the engine is completely blown and you were the victim of an unscrupulous car dealer? (True story.)

But looked at in another light, that’s the kind of situation that, in time and with the gift of perspective (a lot of time and a lot of perspective), gives us an opportunity for growth and one hell of a good story.

There’s a story Husband loves to tell this time of year, a childhood memory of his, that you might call his Worst Thanksgiving Ever.

Click Here to Jump to Cookie Recipe

Hostess-Brands-refuses-sale-offers-wants-to-grow-brands-furtherUnable to visit family, they wound up going to a  neighbor’s home where they were given flimsy paper plates and plastic utensils, they sat outside on cheap lawn chairs, there were no side dishes (not that Husband likes side dishes, the point is there weren’t any), and when the neighbors realized they forgot dessert, one of the kids ran inside for a box of Hostess Ding Dongs and passed them around.

So here’s the thing: it may have been a rotten dinner, but it provided Husband with a great story that he loves to tell and everyone enjoys hearing.

And that’s the point I want to leave with you today. Let us be thankful for all things: rotten dinners, frustrating events, ridiculous people and stupid politicians, because they provide us with Story.  And think how boring our lives would be without Story.

So if during your Thanksgiving dinner you are asked what you are thankful for, think about the role Story plays in your life. And then tell a great one.

Speaking of dinner, bet you’ll have a few leftovers and wouldn’t mind a recipe to go with them. Now, I for one am not a turkey lover, but this soup is a good one and it’s ridiculously easy to make. I was at a friend’s house when she made it and I had my doubts as I watched her, but was surprised how well it turned out. She doesn’t even consider herself a cook, so that should tell you how easy it is.

Cathy's Leftover Turkey Soup

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Difficulty: If Cathy can do it, you can too
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Leftover turkey, bones and all, can add leftover ham too
  • Leftover gravy
  • Leftover potatoes, mashed is fine
  • Leftover veggies, whatever you have, including the fresh veggies from the appetizer traysoup
  • Leftover olives? Yeah, dump those in.
  • Anything else leftover? Dump that in too.
  • Water to cover, or leftover broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (I know, sounds odd, but it works)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add all items to a large stock pot and cook over low heat for several hours. Remove bay leaves and any bones. Serve with crusty bread.

You’ll probably have leftovers. Reheat for lunch the next day.

Bonus Recipe!

The second time I made these cookies, I was measuring the salt over the bowl and … um … that was a mistake. I scooped out as much salt as I could and made the cookies anyway. Of course, I thought they tasted salty, but everyone else raved about them and requested the recipe. Which makes it tricky, you know? So I solved the problem by sprinkling the cookies with salt, right before baking. Weird, but true. (Another Story!)

French Buttercream Cookies with Sea Salt

  • Time: about 1 hour, plus chilling time
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking sodaCreamy Christmas Butter Cookies_1124
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • red and green colored sugars (for decorating)
  • sea salt, for sprinkling

In large bowl, combine first seven ingredients and blend at low speed of mixer for one minute, until well mixed. Gradually add flour, continuing to blend at low speed until fully incorporated. Chill dough about 15 minutes.

Shape dough into 3/4″ balls, place on cookie sheet a few inches apart. Flatten balls with fork; sprinkle with colored sugars and a little bit of sea salt.

Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes until set but not brown. Let cookies sit for about a minute before removing them from pan; cool on racks. Makes about 4 dozen.

These are wonderful served with tea or coffee.

Author: C. J. Hartwell

Christi lives in Phoenix with Husband, Son, Daughter, and Dog. She enjoys moonlit walks on the beach, but as she doesn't live anywhere near a beach, she's usually in bed by 9:30.

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