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.

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Darby Britto

Darby Britto

I was raised in the south by a pair of Yankees, and everyone around me wore combat boots. I think this explains a lot. A childhood spent working in little theatre and a professional career in television, tends to give me a point of view not often shared by others.

4 Comments
  1. Your story brings to mind the holiday difficulties faced by dads who choose (or don’t choose) divorce and discover that holidays like Thanksgiving will never again be in one place on the actual day. (Well not for many years until the children get the right to make up their mind where they want to be.) All that holiday familiarity disappears with the loss of custody. Such dads might have two or even three Thanksgivings or none at all. And they might stay put at home alone or find themselves driving all over the place just to share a few hours with their root family and the kids/grandkids. Either way, it taints the holidays in a way that many intact families can’t understand. Thanks for your nice piece, which is a happy piece and in no way tainted by the stresses of divorce.

  2. Frank Povah

    A happy piece indeed, and proof that holidays are had in the heart.

    A fondly remembered gathering over a cup of tea, inane conversation among good friends over a single bottle of beer, can do the soul as much good as all the pomp and ceremony of any holy festival.

  3. Just tell them you’re Canadian! Canadian Thanksgiving is always on the second Monday in October.

  4. I agree. It feels just like family, along with the foibles. Lucky us.

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