Dear Thanksgiving, You Are Not Forgotten


Dear Thanksgiving, You Are Not Forgotten

The holiday season is upon us. From October to December, various holidays take place starting with Halloween and ending with New Year’s Day. There is one holiday that falls during this time that seems to get looked over, however. Once Halloween is over, the Christmas decorations come out in a lot of households and retail shops. I am not judging or being negative about you and your family’s choice of how and when you get into the Christmas spirit. But here are my thoughts on why Thanksgiving deserves some love too.

Thanksgiving is a day to which I look forward. It’s my birthday, I get to spend time with loved ones, eat delicious food, and is the start of the holiday season. But it hasn’t always been this way. I didn’t get to discover the joy and excitement of Thanksgiving until I was in college. When I was younger, I was a dancer, and every year the studio I danced for would attend a convention three hours away from where I lived. The convention was always on Thanksgiving and the weekend right after, so for as long as I can remember, my Thanksgivings consisted of eating turkey sandwiches in my dance teacher’s hotel room the night of Thanksgiving.

That all changed when I entered college.

My first year, I went home for Thanksgiving and gained a new appreciation for this holiday. The traditional Thanksgiving foods were all at my mom’s dining room table, but so were some new and improved dishes, the likes of which I had never tasted before. I couldn’t believe this was what I had been missing! That year, a core memory was made; since then, Thanksgiving will always have a special place in my heart.

Throughout the years, my sister and I became more active participants in the planning, preparing, and cooking of my family’s Thanksgiving meal, especially once my mother’s cancer progressed. Over time, my mother got into picking and choosing the menu, so much so, that she eventually organized all of her Thanksgiving recipes into what we now affectionately refer to as “The Binder,” with dividers separating appetizers, side dishes, salads, and desserts. Now that she is no longer with us, my family makes sure to take out “The Binder” for Thanksgiving and we do our best to honor the tradition my mom so painstakingly put effort into by making sure Thanksgiving is always a success. I dreaded the first Thanksgiving without my mom because Thanksgiving was her holiday, but I am finding joy in keeping the memories and traditions we started because of her alive.

For example, the morning of the big day always started with Dunkin Donuts coffee and muffins which my mom and I were responsible for picking up and then bringing over to my sister’s house. The minute we walked through the door, it smelled and sounded like Thanksgiving: the turkey cooking in the oven, the Macy’s parade on tv, and lots of activity in the kitchen. Some of my fondest memories come from the days leading up to and the day of Thanksgiving. My sister and I found out the hard way what a rutabaga was the first year we were put in charge of doing the grocery shopping. My mother was still working at that time, and she received about six different phone calls from us with questions! It’s been a couple years since we’ve had the kind of Thanksgiving I grew used to because Covid put a damper on a lot of the celebrations and family gatherings the past couple years, including Thanksgiving.

Another way we’re honoring my mom is by making some recipes from “The Binder,” like this one:

Sweet Potato Casserole (yields 8 servings):


1/2 cup of milk

1/4 cup of sugar

2 eggs slightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional)

3 cups sweet potato cooked and mashed (usually one very large can)

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 stick of margarine

Directions: Mix all ingredients together and pour into a well-greased 2 quart casserole.


1/3 cup melted margarine

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Directions: Mix all ingredients together and spread evenly over potatoes. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes.

Note: This recipe may be made ahead and frozen before baking. Thaw before baking.

All this to say, don’t count Thanksgiving out when you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing for the winter holidays. It truly can be as magical and fun as the rest of the holidays.

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Stephanie Ransdell
Hi! I’m Stephanie, an elementary school teacher and mom to two, a girl, and a boy. My husband I have been married for 12 years now, together for 21. I am a Knoxville transplant, and am originally from South Florida. I am UCF alumni, a Miami Hurricanes fan, and a recently converted Vols supporter! I have loved calling Knoxville home and raising my family here. I love getting the chance to experience seasons and all things fall related, which you don’t get in the Sunshine State! We love to explore all that Knoxville has to offer and have made many memories. I am an avid reader, coffee drinker, black belt shopper, Disney enthusiast who loves a good laugh with good friends and family. I am so excited to share my experiences and thoughts on navigating life as a mom with you all through my passion of writing!


  1. Thank you Stephanie for writing for Knoxville Moms! I have enjoyed your heartfelt comments, humor, bringing awareness on many issues and sharing your experiences.


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