The Upsides to Hosting Thanksgiving

Thankful to be hosting our family for Thanksgiving dinner.

Thankful to be hosting our family for Thanksgiving dinner.

I feel like I need to come clean: I've never really loved Thanksgiving foods. I like cooking, and I love to eat. But turkey? Blah. Cranberry sauce? Nope. Potatoes? I can live without 'em. Gravy? Please, go away.

So, yeah, I'm probably not your obvious choice for Thanksgiving dinner host. Christmas is the holiday I've always wanted. I LOVE Christmas! But when my husband and I blended families, I had to learn share the holidays.

And for the longest time, I got out of having to cook a turkey. I was ... well, let's just say I wasn't 20 ... when I hosted my first Thanksgiving. Last year, when I took on the responsibility, I texted my friend Jenn (a lover of Thanksgiving!) and said: "I have to host Thanksgiving."

She said: "No. You GET to host Thanksgiving."

And I've since learned she had a point. I embrace it. I look forward to it. It's mine. (But I still pass on the potatoes and gravy even if I have to make them.)

It's more versatile than you think. I used to think there were no choices. You have to have turkey, stuffing and potatoes. What's the fun in that? But the truth is, tradition is what you make it. So, I'm making it a point to experiment with something every year.

You have days to clean. That's right. No one is coming over for Black Friday brunch. Christmas Eve hosting means you might be cooking big meals two days in a row. Forget. That.

It's all about dinner. With Christmas, food is part of the day. With Thanksgiving, it is all you have to focus on.

I'm done for the year. Once I host Turkey Day, my hosting responsibilities for the year are done. What a feeling! I can totally minimize the stress of Christmas this way.

My son's allergies matter. Perhaps most importantly, if I'm hosting, my son's allergies are taken into consideration. I ensure that the vast majority of the food I serve is food he can have. I play the mashed potatoes straight; I make a salad dressing he can't have; and I do one dessert that's off-limits. But otherwise, I'm focused on allergy-friendly options. If people want cheesy casseroles, they can bring them. But I'll be preparing food my son can have. (Whether he eats it is, of course, a different story.)

Your turn: What do you love about hosting Thanksgiving?