With or without the Williams-Sonoma table, I really love Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. By the time I came along, my parents were set in the tradition of having the dinner at their house, so up until my 21st year, all my Thanksgiving memories took place in my own home. My grandparents usually came--both sets--and for years and years we always had guests who were visiting the United States from other countries.
I'm not exactly sure how these invitations were issued, but my dad had quite a few contacts within our small college town. My parents were eager to share a quintessentially American tradition with our visitors, and I believe equally eager for their children to discover first hand how big the world really was. I don't remember everyone, but I recall meeting people from Taiwan, China, Iran, and Brazil at our Thanksgiving table. The family we hosted from Brazil became good friends, and we shared celebrations with them for the next several years, until their father finished his doctorate and they returned to Brazil. My siblings often brought along college roommates, and I remember enjoying so much learning about all of these people and where they came from and how they celebrated holidays in their own homes.
Since the Bionic Man and I were married 13 years ago, we've never had a chance to go home for Thanksgiving. For some reason, we were stubbornly determined to spend our first Thanksgiving alone (newlyweds, you know), so I single-handedly prepared our feast. I was quite proud (and pregnant).
After that, there was nowhere to go but up. Luckily, we really went up the next year, when we scored an invitation from our friends (and, at that time, landlords) the Binghams. Thanksgiving at the Binghams was truly a feast. My mouth waters to this day as I think about it. The turkey, the twice-baked potatoes, the seven-layer salad, Bonnie's orange rolls, and THE PIES. Oh, the pies. It was so good that by the time dinner was over, I looked like this:
Anywho, after that introduction to Bingham family celebrations, they couldn't have got rid of us if they had tried. We spent the next six Thanksgivings with Uncle Morris and Aunt Bonnie....until we moved to Indiana. It became an important tradition, one that our children looked forward to every year.
My children were devastated when they realized that we wouldn't be able to go to the Binghams' for Thanksgiving, that first year in Indiana. Tears were shed. Promises were made, that their mommy would try to make all the right foods. That year, we invited three other young families who were far from home to join us. One of those families, the Cleverlys, have become part of our Indiana Thanksgiving tradition. We've celebrated with them ever since, along with an assortment of other friends and any family members (like my sister, Lisa), who can make it.
Nicole Cleverly and I have tweaked our menu over the last few years, but as our sixth joint Thanksgiving approaches, we have some pretty consistent jobs.
Brines and roasts the turkey
Makes the stuffing
Brings her mother-in-law's raspberry jello salad (there are NEVER leftovers)
Plans to do the potatoes this year, too
Transports the turkey to my house and helps with the gravy
Brings the Cheescake Factory Pumpkin Cheescake
Makes the ham
Makes the rolls
Makes the sweet potatoes
Makes a few other side dishes
Makes lots of pies and desserts
Makes the fresh cranberry sauce
Hosts the dinner
How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Do you have any unique traditions?