Cranberry Salad– A Family Tradition for Mealtime Monday
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, we wanted to share some fun, family tradition recipes we have. This one comes from my husbands family. Betty Gerber, my husbands grandmother made this Cranberry Salad
recipe every year. And although I was not fortunate enough to meet the woman I have heard so many great things about, I now feel a connection to her through this recipe, and feel an obligation to keep her tradition alive– although I was hesitant if I would even be able to at first.
My sweet mother-in-law and I working some magic in the kitchen.
Have you ever felt like your exceptance into a new situation, relationship, or family was riding on one simple thing? Well last Thanksgiving I sure did. I thought this Cranberry Salad was going to be the death of me. It was my first Thanksgiving married and Jeff and I went to Michigan to spend it with his family. I was already a little uneasy, not because I didn’t love his family or want to go, but because it was only the second Thanksgiving I had ever spent away from my family. And let me tell you, that first Thanksgiving away was a disaster. I love our family’s traditions
and nothing, I mean NOTHING was the same. We had a ham for dinner instead of turkey! (Which I’m not saying is a bad thing, because trust me, I love me some ham, but it has always been turkey for Thanksgiving in my family.) At that first Thanksgiving away from my family, none of our traditions were upheld, and quite honestly, it was just anther family dinner. Nothing special like I had known Thanksgiving to be for so many years. I was trying to keep an open mind about this second one though. First off, I love my new family. They are gut-busting hilarious, down to earth, loving, kind, and welcoming. It truly was just the fact I was going to be away from my immediate family.
So Jeff and I hopped on our overnight flight (BLAH! Worst flights ever… but definitely the cheaper route). We arrived in Detroit about 5 in the morning the day before Thanksgiving and were picked up by my sister-in-law and a family friend to continue our journey another 2-3 hours. When we arrived, we took a quick nap, and then got to work. I asked my dear mother-in-law (the best mother-in-law I could ever ask for I might add) what I could help with. I was open to everything and anything not realizing there were secret family recipes. She listed off some pies, potatoes, and some other Thanksgiving dinner staples. I was feeling pretty good. I had this in the bag. I had helped my mom with all those things for years. Then came the doozie. I was asked to make the Cranberry Salad– a family recipe that Thanksgiving wasn’t the same without. I immediately panicked. I thought of the story my mom would tell us growing up about her first Thanksgiving with her new family. I thought of her failed rolls
. I was trying to fight the fear and trying really hard to hold in my panic tears. I pulled Jeff aside and jokingly asked if he would still keep me as his wife if I messed up the secret family recipe. He of course said yes and reassured me that it wasn’t a test. If it was messed up, his family would still eat it and never even tell me. With a little comfort, I pulled out the recipe and got to work. I had never made anything like this. The whole time I was making it, I was fighting with myself about my ability to pull it off. I kept reminding myself that my grandparents didn’t disown my mother all those years ago over the rolls, and mine are so chill, they wouldn’t disown me either.
Fast forwarding to the actual Thanksgiving feast the following day, the Cranberry Salad
was a hit! I succeeded, my new family didn’t disown me, and I now have a new tradition as Jeff and I begin incorporating traditions for our own family.
This year we are headed to Michigan again, and I look forward to making the delicious, one of a kind, and as grandma Gerber says “the-cranberry-salad-that-nobody-wanted-when-you-were-little-and-now-you-can’t-have-Thanksgiving-dinner-without-it” Cranberry Salad again.
Maybe there is a new Thanksgiving dinner staple for your family. Go ahead and give this a try. If I can do it, so can you! (And if it isn’t perfect, no one will ever know!) We wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!