I love everything about Thanksgiving.
The big gatherings of family and friends. Remembering all of the reasons we have to be thankful throughout the year. Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The table settings and the decorations and the food. ALL of the food.
I even love braving the crowds at the grocery store. Call me crazy, but give me two hours alone without kids and I can make a trip to Whole Foods on the Sunday before Thanksgiving feel like a day at the spa. Why yes, I WILL sample all six wines you’ve chosen for the holiday. There’s brie en croute with cranberry chutney to go with that? Give me all. of. the. things.
But my favorite thing about Thanksgiving is the fact that it rings in the holiday season.
I woke up this past Sunday morning and I could FEEL it. THE HOLIDAYS HAVE BEGUN!
I’ve already queued up my favorite Christmas playlist on Spotify, and you better believe it’s been playing on repeat this whole week while I’ve been working in the kitchen. (Just don’t tell my husband. He has a strict “no Christmas music before Thanksgiving” policy.)
No-bake cheesecake used to be my jam. Mix some cream cheese with some sticky sweetened condensed milk, pour that goodness over a graham cracker crust (store-bought. obviously.), and, if you’re feeling really fancy, add some strawberry sauce (you can buy that at the grocery store, too. It’s literally called “strawberry sauce,” and I have no idea what’s actually in it). Top that baby with a whole tub of Cool Whip. Done and done.
This is the stuff of my childhood.
If you had told my 12-year-old self that cheesecake was actually supposed to be baked, she would have laughed in your face.
Cheesecake doesn’t go in the oven, you fool.
Clearly, the joke’s on me, because a traditional cheesecake is, in fact, baked. And it’s 486757882601 times better than it’s no-bake counterpart. Truth.
Once I discovered real cheesecake, there was no going back. A good cheesecake has a delicate and creamy texture that the no-bake version lacks. It’s light and smooth and so much more complex.
So why do we avoid making cheesecakes?
Is it the springform pan? The hot water bath? The almost 2-hour bake time?
I get it. But here’s the thing: you can do it.
I used to be smart, I think. Back before these two tiny humans claimed my brain power and my intelligence. I graduated high school at the top of my class and was voted “most likely to succeed.” I have a college degree. I even managed to convince more than one person of my intelligence and aptitude post-college, thereby landing myself a job that actually paid above the minimum wage. With benefits.
I used to be able to complete tasks that required focus. I’m pretty sure I used to have an attention span that was longer than that of a fruit fly. And I vaguely remember having the ability to turn thoughts into coherent, well-informed sentences.
And then, children.
Two pregnancies and two children later, I’m noticeably dumber than I used to be.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the better portion of my day is spent communicating on a 2-year-old level, referring to myself in the third person, and singing Daniel Tiger jingles in an attempt to instill basic life lessons. “Mama said you have to try to pee in the potty before we can go to the park. Hands out of the potty. ‘Flush and wash and be on your way!'” “Please stop at the crosswalk. You have to hold mama’s hand to cross the street. ‘Stop! and listen to stay safe!'”
Maybe it’s true that “mom brain” is, in fact, a real thing. “Oh thanks, neighbor. I did, in fact, leave my keys hanging from the front door lock for the third time this week.”