Thanksgiving Snuck Up on Me This Year!

Whaddaya mean, Thanksgiving is THIS WEEK? Yikes! Are there any turkeys left? Is there time to thaw one?


My daughter was born two days before Thanksgiving, two weeks to the day after my birthday, so there’s always been a week between my birthday and the week that Thanksgiving falls in. As far as I recall, anyway. At any rate, this year knocks that theory off the shelf.

So I’m kind of in panic mode. Luckily, I’ve done this before. About 50 times. Well, maybe not that many: We went out two or three times and we did have Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital before taking the baby home. I was to have Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house once, but she broke her ankle and I ended up cooking dinner at her house.

Guests are always welcome. One year, we had my husband’s graduate assistant, who was from Russia, and his wife and daughter who had just arrived in the United States. The wife was exclaiming over things I took for granted: things such as an electric mixer and a dishwasher. She told me about wanting to stock up on everything at the grocery store and being amazed when her husband told her she didn’t need to: the things would be there any time she went to the store.

It reminded me that there are things to be thankful for. Be thankful if you have a home and a job. With the economy and with natural disasters, there are many who don’t.

There are even things to be thankful for with diabetes. For example, we don’t have a cure, but we have tools that allow us to live somewhat normal lives. Not that many years ago, we didn’t even dream of blood glucose meters, different types of oral medications, rapid-acting insulin, insulin pens, pumps, continuous glucose monitors, and such. All of those, plus a greater knowledge about diabetes, help us keep our blood glucose under better control. Even at Thanksgiving.

OK, we sometimes run a little bit higher. One year my endocrinologist was looking at my log and said: “Why are your numbers… Oh. The holidays.” And that was it. No yelling. No “you should” or “you shouldn’t.” Just an acknowledgement that I was human, just like people who don’t have diabetes. I overindulged for a bit. Then got myself back under control.

Have I made changes since my diagnosis? Oh, you betcha! One year I even altered my recipes to make them low-fat/low-carb…in other words, blech!

So I made other changes. I make things the way I always did, but I just don’t eat as much of the fatty, carby foods.

Some things are as they’ve always been. Green beans, for example, have never been in a casserole. They’ve always been cooked up fresh. My “tradition” is to prepare the raw beans for cooking while I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television.

Sweet potatoes have always been baked as is. No sugar. No marshmallows. No whatever else goes in candied yams. Mom made candied yams, but I never have. The main reason to bake sweet potatoes and to cook fresh green beans is so I can eat the leftovers. Cold. My grandfather taught me that. He ate the sweet potatoes with butter on them: I just eat them plain.

My grandson is in charge of the relish tray. He’s going to make it fun this year. Check this out. Makes you want to gobble up some non-starchy veggies, doesn’t it? I shared it with a friend who plans to have her grandchildren make a veggie turkey. They’re 5, 6 and 8. Should be fun — I’d love to be at her house!

Granddaughter LOVES deviled eggs, so she makes those. My grandmother taught me; I taught my granddaughter. Old family traditions are good. I don’t eat a lot of deviled eggs: The kids eat them all before I can nab more than one.

As for the glucose-busters, I eat a little bit. Maybe a spoonful or two of dressing to see if I like it yet (I don’t). Some mashed potatoes, but no gravy. That stuff with pineapple, whipped cream, marshmallows, and stuff? You betcha! And pumpkin cake, which has always been my daughter’s birthday cake — we’ve celebrated her birthday on Thanksgiving since she’s been an adult.

So, pile up your plate with the healthful stuff, add some small servings of the “goodies,” then grab some exercise of sorts before settling in to watch football. Like, clear off the table by carrying one dish at a time into the kitchen. Take a walk around the neighborhood with some friends or family. Dance. Stuff like that.

If you fall off the wagon, so to speak, don’t stay sprawled all over the floor. Don’t beat yourself up. Pick yourself up and get back on.

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  • Aaron Capp

    Great article, I’m hoping I don’t fall off the wagan, there is always great food around this time of year. I have made several diabetic cookbooks to help me say on the straight and narrow, but I have never made a cookbook for the holidays for diabetics, your article gave me this idea, thanks

  • jim snell

    Jan: Happy Thanksgiving and survive the onslought of great food.

    Your story about the assistant’s wife from Russia wanting to immediately stock up on everything struck a cord in my mind back in Days in Canada when I was with my Dad down on the Russian Freighters from Vladavostock in Vancouver Harbor where my Dad was Immigration officer and had to clear the boat and sailors so they could take shore leave.

    Once on shore, the good Russian Sailors headed straight for the Sally Ann , low cost stores and the Good Will and buy up piles of clothes and Jeans and load them back on the Boat to take home.

    The even more revealing comment was the Commissar-Political Officer of the boat thought I was a Dancer by the quality of shoes I was wearing. A nothing special mid range shoe made by Bata Shoes.

    We have been blessed with so much in North America.

    Apologies for diversion and thank you for excellent column for thanksgiving.

  • Ferne

    I sm the only one in our family that is diabetic. I do not ask for any special food and in fact, I make a dessert to die for that I don’t eat but everyone loves it so it’s my treat to them. The only one who notices what and how much I eat is my husband. Everyone is so busy eating and visiting they don’t notice what I take or what I pass by. Everyone should enjoy the day as it is fit for them and not for the grandmother of the family. I just enjoy the day with all of the kids, grandkids and great grandchildren and am thankful I am as healthy as I am and can enjoy the day. God is good.