It's time to ask ourselves a seemingly simple, seemingly trite, but quite essential question:
How homemade are we going to be this holiday season?
What are we going to make from scratch, and what will be store-bought? How important is it to have things homemade? Making everything from scratch can be extremely daunting. Sometimes store-bought just turns out better. But homemade is more special. Story time...
One of my roommates from college came home after Thanksgiving weekend. I asked her how her holiday was, and she confessed it was pretty rotten. When I asked why, she said that (while not the only reason) the whole meal was the cop-out store-bought type: from the canned cranberry sauce, to the bakery pies, to the instant mashed potatoes, to the canned gravy... everything that could be made instantly, was. This little story has stuck with me (obviously, since it was six years ago and I still remember it). I think about it, and how the choice to be quick and easy made the day less personal and special.
But that being said, I don't expect anybody to make everything from scratch. I've tried to provide recipes and ideas for all aspects of the meal, but you should pick what you like. If you just love boxed stuffing mixes, then use that instead of making your own. Also, don't be afraid to try something new--or so set on tradition to ignore the past failures. If your family hates pumpkin pie, well, by all means, don't make pumpkin pie! If you're always throwing away all the cranberry sauce, then don't make that either. If you want to incorporate flavors somewhere else, try that... like my cranberry salad, or a pumpkin soup, or a cheesecake instead of pie... there are many options out there.
So how homemade should our holidays be? Only as much as we can bear. But exactly as much as we can bear too! Only you can decide that for yourself.