Truly Thankful + Thanksgiving Meal Ideas

Thankful. This word is thrown around a lot during this season. Sometimes it holds a lot of meaning; other times we say it just to answer the question and move on. We get jaded, desensitized, and sometimes, we just wanna get to the turkey. I get it. Turkey is good. (The coma afterwards is even better!) But how can we re-focus on the weight of this word?

This is our first time in the States for the holidays in four years. Perhaps that’s why I have a different perspective on truly being thankful. I’m beyond excited to celebrate with friends and family! I even started listening to Christmas music this week, which normally is a big no-no for me until after Thanksgiving. But this year, I just couldn’t help it! I’m soaking it all in.

Another reason perhaps my perspective is slanted towards being extra thankful? There is a tiny human almost finished growing inside of me. The awe of it all (even after 2 others) still makes me stop and ponder and rejoice quite often. Even more so because this one was a surprise, yet there is no doubt that she is supposed to be here, at this time!

My heart is full this season. I’m in my comfort zone, my family is healthy, and we’re about to welcome a new one. It’s easy to be thankful this year.

You may be rolling your eyes right now. It’s not always easy, right? The Psalms tell us a few times to “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his mercy endures forever.” Nearly every year we’ve spent overseas, there are seasons I desperately struggle to thank Him; I’d much rather grumble. The holiday seasons are often the toughest for me. Yet, every year, we find ways to make it special and celebrate with new loved ones around us. Whether it be locals or teammates, I can look back now and see that He provided what I needed during those times…comfort food (even if it did take several days to make), new and old traditions, friends that step in as family, and decorations—although a bit too much like the 70s—that did the job.

I hope you can find things to be thankful for where you are, right now. We all too often let our minds wander to what is annoying or frustrating or hard. This week, thank the Lord for it all—easy and hard.

So, because I’m 9 months pregnant and still chasing around 2 active boys, I’m going a bit lazy on you this time. But, these recipes are good! Either I’ve made them myself, or I’ve eaten them, made my someone else. Hopefully they will inspire your Thanksgiving meal this week!

Meat: For me, always the hardest part when overseas. I want something special! Here are a few ideas:

  • Cured Ham–It tastes like real ham! It’s super easy, but takes a little planning ahead. Like, start now.
  • Crock pot Chicken–As easy as throwing an entire chicken and a few veggies and spices into a crock pot. Tasty!


  • Roasted Vegetables–Super easy and my kids gobble them up every time! Their favorite is carrots, but we’ve also done broccoli, yellow squash, and potatoes.
  • Terry’s Cranberry Salad (serves 4-6)— My new favorite way to eat cranberries!!2 cups cranberries (frozen & ground or chopped–chopping is easier when frozen a little)*
    1 small box strawberry jello
    3/4 cup boiling water
    1/2 can crushed pineapple (drained)*
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 cup chopped celery
    1 chopped orange
    1/2 cup pecans or walnutsPour the boiling water over the jello, mix well, then add cranberries & sugar. After all that is mixed up, add the rest of the ingredients & chill.

* The great woman who made this didn’t have fresh cranberries on hand in China, so she reconstituted dried cranberries. (Here is how.)  Still amazing! EDIT: Terry just told me you CANNOT sub fresh pineapple for canned. For some reason, the jello won’t set with fresh!

  • Macaroni and Cheese— I use half the cheese she does (in order to avoid obliterating my budget), and it’s still very cheesy!



And because I love looking at Market2Meal’s site (she lives in Asia and strives to make ev-er-y-thing from scratch), here’s her Holiday Menu List. Lots of great stuff!

What is something hard that you will choose to be thankful for this week? What are some of your go-to, overseas-friendly holiday dishes?

And, head’s up! Next week at The Grove, we’re having a “Christmas Goodie and Fav Recipes Link Up” to share all your favorite, do-able Christmas treats!

Photo Credit : Unsplash


  1. Monica November 24, 2014

    Wow!  I want to try those Chai Spiced Blondies- yum!  This is our first Thanksgiving back in the States in four years too!  We have so much to be thankful for in this season of our life.  The hard part is not knowing ‘what’s next’ for our family- so choosing to be Thankful in the midst of waiting.  I’ll miss sitting down with our local friends for Thanksgiving this year- I always make pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole, and mashed potatoes with gravy (pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and potatoes supplied by our village friends!). Instead of turkey we eat the local specialty- sour/spicy fish!  Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

    1. Ashley Felder November 24, 2014

      I, too, am excited to feast on all the “normal” Thanksgiving foods! My kids, however, probably aren’t. I’ll never forget last year’s feast with tons of friends. I piled their plates high with all the fixin’s and they just stared at their plate, not having any idea what was in front of them! It was a tough, unfamiliar meal for them. TCK moment at its finest! Happy Thanksgiving to you and all the family you get to enjoy it with this year!

  2. Sara Beth November 24, 2014

    Thanks for all the love sent my way, Ashley! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Ashley Felder November 24, 2014

      Well, Sara Beth, I truly get a lot of my recipes from you, so thank YOU! So grateful for others who have walked before me–sure makes my life easier! 🙂

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