Basic Cranberry SauceThanksgiving is just a little over a week away and you've probably begun planning, decorating, and grocery shopping by now. Or if you're like my family, you'll just wait until the day before to do all of that. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that procrastinating on the holiday meal is never a good idea. The stores will be running low on ingredients and people will be running around frantically trying to grab the last can of jellied cranberry sauce. Unless you want to put a middle-aged woman in a headlock in order to win that battle, I suggest calmly making a list and heading to the store this week, before the madness begins.

I read recently that people are bringing less homemade dishes to the holiday table than ever before, due to the abundance of store-bought options and a variety of restaurants now offering take-out Thanksgiving menus. Let me start by saying that I understand. Thanksgiving meal planning is stressful, especially if you're cooking a feast for 12 people alone. Why waste time making your own gravy when you can get it out of a box? I understand, my dear readers, but it doesn't have to be this way. Most traditional Thanksgiving dishes are incredibly easy to make, like this recipe for Basic Cranberry Sauce (only 6 ingredients!). You don't have to cook anything fancy, but you'll feel much better about putting a simple bowl of homemade mashed potatoes on the table than if you just pick it up from a deli down the road.

If you still feel overwhelmed, ask friends and family members to contribute! I imagine at the first Thanksgiving, one person wasn't doing all the cooking, but rather everyone brought his or her own favorite dish to share. They didn't have convenience stores back then, so the feast had to be built from the ground up with locally grown ingredients and wild game. After all, Thanksgiving is not about what kind of brine you used on the turkey or how many pies you made for dessert. It's about appreciating what you have, and that includes friends and family, a table to sit at, and good food. We are an extremely blessed nation. Relish the moment, and give thanks.

Now, here is a how-to video for an incredibly easy Basic Cranberry Sauce that everyone will love. Take a deep breath as the holidays draw near; you can do this!