When it comes to Thanksgiving, you know right out the gate what your favorite foods were growing up and the ones that grace your "table of giving" today. Almost everyone from a young age remembers that aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, or grandparent that made a special Thanksgiving entree or dessert just the way they liked it. That being said, you couldn't imagine it making its way to your plate any other way, or could you?

For me, growing up around an Italian grandmother who only spoke a few words of English meant that most everything put on the dinner table year-round and during the holidays would somehow be Italian-infused. I don't recall one Thanksgiving in my youth without sampling antipasto-style trays of salami, cheese, olives, and pane (bread), prepared by my Mamooch (Grandma Camilla), and that was just the preview platter before heading to the dinner table. When it was actually time for dinner, there were "two" designated tables; one for the adults and one for the kids. Am I right? Almost every holiday dinner at my grandparents' house started with a welcoming similar to "cheers," but instead, the Italian equation was "salut"! That was when the adults would raise their glasses of "vino" (wine), and the kids would raise their glasses of milk or water. Alright, who am I kidding; come on, it was an Italian household, and wine tasting was allowed or more so encouraged, but "una po'" (in small amounts).

It's obvious from my illustration above that I rather enjoyed Thanksgiving in my youth. There was never any shortage of turkey, Italian sausage stuffing & dressing, homemade spaghetti, ravioli, mashed potatoes & gravy, not to mention salad, tomatoes, and green beans doused in olive oil and red wine vinegar. The day would then wrap up with homemade pumpkin pie, coffee, and then a nightcap of whisky and anisette for the adults, or by European standards, those over the age of 15.

As I got older, not much changed over the years regarding our Thanksgiving "menu," although there were a few arguments about it along the way. Don't get me wrong; I wouldn't trade in the Thanksgiving recipes I grew accustomed to love. However, I did try to modify a couple of entrees a few times, but with no support from the fam! LOL. For a couple of years, I insisted that my grandmother's traditional Italian sausage stuffing/dressing needed apples and cube-style breading. The consensus at the table was a giant thumbs down. I also added a green bean casserole that I knew was a Thanksgiving staple for many, but it was a "no-go" at our Thanksgiving table. Well, I can't say that I didn't try. I guess it goes to show that sometimes you shouldn't mess with something, or recipes for that matter, that don't need fixing in the first place. What were some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions and recipes growing up, and which have you changed? Crack us up with your responses! Happy Thanksgiving!

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