With a new baby in our midst, we’re taking on the holidays with a new attitude: Relaxed, simple, and enjoyable. Okay, maybe we say this every year, baby or not. “We won’t overdo it.” “We’ll keep things simple.” “This year, we’ll actually enjoy the day.” And, sure, we reach varying levels of these goals. But, this year, things are incredibly different, and luckily our extended families are on-board. Take Thanksgiving, for instance. Our usual routine is to switch the meal and dessert every year, meaning that one year we’ll eat the full meal with one of our family’s (say, my husband’s) and the dessert with the other family (in this case, mine). The following year, we’ll switch. Our families live about a half hour apart, and it has worked out relatively well. Sure, we almost always end up eating some semblance of dessert at the first house and the second house will almost always end up sending home extra leftovers, but the peace is kept and we get to enjoy time with both families. Win-win. But, the travel can get tiring (which I hate to even say because I know people will travel for many hours and do anything just to get to a loved one's house). This year? We’re not leaving the house. I’ll actually have a little more work on my hands since I still aspire to have a real Thanksgiving meal (I’ve actually craved the ability to cook my own holiday meal and will often do a turkey breast and sides the weekend before or after the big day, anyway), but with that “relaxed, simple, enjoyable” mantra. Heck, we can eat in our PJs and not worry about rushing every which way, at least. How the heck, with a nursing newborn and rambunctious toddler, will I get the job done? The key is the second word in my mantra: simplify, simplify, simplify. My husband and I have listed the items that “make” Thanksgiving dinner, for us. Aside from the turkey, his big thing is the mashed potatoes and gravy, and maybe my homemade cranberry sauce. My favorite is the dressing and a certain type of store-bought roll. (What is up with the carbs, guys?!) Our son likes corn and not much else. So, instead of making caramelized brussels sprouts, glazed carrots (which I LOVE but don’t need), homemade cornbread, and so forth, we’re sticking with these relatively simple things. It’s really going to be a glorified Sunday dinner - and that’s fine. Along with the simplification, it’s all about the make-ahead prep. The cranberry sauce can be done in advance and heated up (unless we just eat it cold). The rolls are store-bought, but can be popped in the oven for a quick warm-up as needed. The organic corn will be frozen; not much quicker than that. The potatoes can be peeled, chopped, and set on the stove (with a pat of butter to keep the water from boiling over!) the night before, quite possibly by my husband. Same goes with the stuffing prep. But, what about dessert?! Yes, there will be dessert. I am a stickler about pie (it must be homemade!!!), and as a pie lover my husband married the right girl. We even cut and ate pie instead of wedding cake. And, what’s his favorite? Apple. It’s pretty high on my list, too, so this is what I’ll be putting all of my energy into the day or two ahead. I mean, we’re not barbarians, after all. As far as the fact that I don’t feel that it’s Thanksgiving without a slice of pumpkin pie? I’m cheating. My mother has offered to bring me a slice (it will inevitably be half a pie, or possibly the whole thing) since she lives one town over. Plus, she’ll get a quick kiss of the grandkids, which, in her book, is more than payment enough. I wouldn't necessarily agree; her pumpkin pie is AWESOME. So, it's probably equal value. ;-) So, that’s Thanksgiving this year! Breakfast and lunch will be light and simple (if we even eat lunch) and the parade will be viewed in its entirety. I’ll be skipping out on the Black Friday crowds since we’ve gotten most of our gifts already (and I’ll be browsing online in my PJs as needed for the last of it). If the house is clean, great. If it’s not, no big deal. Family visits will be sporadic but plentiful during this time, anyway, so we shouldn’t be missing out on too much family time. Who else is planning a relatively low-key event this year? Do you have any secrets or tips to share with the rest of us? Or are you excitedly looking forward to a holiday filled with tons of people and gourmet recipes (which I normally love)? Do share!