Photo by Mr T in DC
Photo by Mr T in DC

When it comes to Thanksgiving, there are two kinds of cranberry sauce people: The can people and the homemade people.

I come from a long line of can people.  In my family, the canned cranberry sauce was an essential part of our Thanksgiving tradition and I thought it was awesome.  Unlike the homemade cranberry sauces, the canned sauce would not carelessly meander into the other food on my plate, disrespectfully tainting the sweet potato pie or rudely running into the turkey gravy. Additionally, since I was raised on the stuff, I actually liked the taste and had no curiosity whatsoever about how they were able to get it into a shape that continued to look exactly like a can, even after it came out.

Cranberry_Sauce_(3617909597)I was not introduced to actual homemade cranberry sauce until I got married.  My husband came from a traditional cranberry sauce family, and like most traditional cranberry sauce families, they thought us canned cranberry sauce people were heathens. Of course, they didn’t say that out loud. But when I looked around the Thanksgiving table at my first Thanksgiving dinner with them and asked for the canned stuff, I could see in their eyes that they were thinking it.

Wanting to fit in with my new family, I tried to be accepting of the homemade cranberry sauce, but to my canned cranberry taste buds, it just tasted nasty. I preferred the artificially sweet taste and smooth gelatinous texture of the canned cranberry sauce to the tart, somewhat lumpy feel of the homemade stuff.

I don’t think this made me a bad person: Just someone with a preference for exceedingly fake, food-like items.

At first I felt bad that I was the lone canned cranberry sauce person at the table. But then I realized that Thanksgiving is all about celebrating two cultures coming together in spite of their differences to give thanks for what they have. I thought it was a great chance for the canned cranberry sauce people and the homemade cranberry sauce people to meet at the dinner table and accept ALL the cranberry sauce options we had before us.

I considered all the other rival groups in history that been unable to transcend their differences – the Sharks and the Jets… the Hatfields and McCoys… the Montagues and Capulets – and realized this was indeed an opportunity for the two cranberry factions to finally come together.

In the interest of peace, love, and brotherhood, I decided to bring a can of cranberry sauce to my next Thanksgiving dinner with my husband’s family. While my traditional cranberry sauce brethren simmered their whole cranberries, sugar and orange zest on the stove top, I unsealed my canned cranberry sauce with a can opener, gently slid it onto a plate, and then sliced it into circles.

As I proudly set my plate of canned cranberry slices onto the buffet, I beamed at one of my nephews and offered him a slice of canned cranberry goodness.

He studied my cranberry sauce, and then in the true spirit of the holiday, he looked up at me, and said,


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  • Maxine Bender

    My family wouldn’t recognize home made cranberry sauce

    • lostinsuburbiablog

      No wonder you and my mom get along so well!

  • Laura

    And then there are the people who just bravely suppress a tiny gag as either are passed at Thanksgiving.

    • lostinsuburbiablog

      HAHA! That’s how I feel about stuffing!

  • Suzanne Fluhr

    Thanksgiving exposes all types of family pathology. It’s not just Uncle So-and-So and his political views to the right of Attila the Hun. There would be an open revolt at the table if I ever tried to slip some homemade cranberry sauce onto the table instead of the “real” canned stuff.

    • lostinsuburbiablog

      One year my grandmother chocked on a piece of turkey during thanksgiving dinner. My mother ran to the other side of the table and gave my grandmother the heimlich. The wad of turkey shot out of her mouth, flew across the room, and stuck onto the wallpaper. Then everyone just continued on with dinner. They just don’t make Thanksgivings like that anymore.

  • Michelle

    Home made all the way, baby..I LOVE it. But I get a can for my brother in law who prefers it. I think both camps can work together. haha

    • lostinsuburbiablog

      CANNED we all get along? 🙂

  • Deb Sarley

    I make the homemade cranberry, orange, apple relish..good stuff. But when I was little, at my house it was always the canned. Either way, it wouldn’t be thanksgiving without it!

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