While most of you are trying to decide on a Halloween costume I will have just had Thanksgiving dinner. This too is something you can blame on TV. November, otherwise known as stunt month in television land, is an all hands on deck affair. The odds of getting time off for Thanksgiving are a lot like being asked out to dinner by George Clooney; not going to happen.
Thirty some years ago a colleague’s family decided to take matters into their own hands. The fixed date for Thanksgiving is, after all, a political decision not a phase of the moon. My friend’s family simply started holding their Thanksgiving festivities and food fest at a more convenient time. The exact date has varied over time for one reason or another but is generally held Columbus Day weekend. There is nothing significant in that except my friend’s sister worked for the National Park Service and usually had a three day weekend.
The two sisters and their parents live in three different parts of the country. I was invited the year it was held in Atlanta and officially became family. One year the other sister invited a colleague (who became family) and she said, “My family has a condo in Wyoming; you really should do this there one year.” Early Thanksgiving became traveling Early Thanksgiving. Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Italy, Canada, Hawaii, and Texas are just a few of the places to host our Thanksgiving.
Having Thanksgiving with us is a lot like The Big Chill without the dead body and the angst over our neuroses. Oh we have neuroses but we consider them part of our endearing charm. I can’t say it is the southern tradition of bringing out our crazy selves and celebrating our eccentricities; too many Yankees in the group. We have just spent enough time together to know what to expect and go with the flow along with a healthy amount of eye rolling.
Hosting one of these events is a trip in itself. The last time I hosted was in Portland, Oregon. Christopher Columbus probably headed out with less planning. Just seating 24 people for dinner took a week of borrowing extra tables and chairs and odd looks as I explained why I needed them. Every Early Thanksgiving has its own food story. We each had to bring a potato one year as our hostess was Italian and would not be caught dead cooking mashed potatoes. This year our hostess rented a beach house. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner in a kitchen sight unseen is not for the faint of heart. Things were going well until the oven refused to cooperate. I am fairly certain none of us will ever travel without an oven thermometer again.
Our group is a family; some actually related and others related by friendship or profession. Family is who you decide it is, and I am very lucky to have this large extended group of kind, interesting, loving people as my family. As the holiday season approaches I hope every Dew reader reaches out to someone and extends their family.