1125 Five Years Running

2006: 14 friends, 1 guest dog, 1 cat, 1 arm in a cast, 1 dropped cutting board, 2 sneaky surprise guests.


Photo by Keem

2007: 2 friends from Massachusetts and 1 from Illinois brave horrible holiday traffic to travel to DC, visit the zoo, play trains, and talk about DRUNK BEES.

Friends

2008: Day after Thanksgiving dinner, pork shoulder, colcannon, spinach quiche, fondue, queso, crafternoon

DSC_0052
Photo by Soy

2009: Eating pie at Village Inn in Davenport even though we’re all stuffed from actual Thanksgiving

Just like last year
Photo by Soy

2010: To the farm! Featuring Baby 80

Thanksgiving Friendos

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1124 Thanksgiving Prep

turkey

We’re leaving in the very wee hours of the morning to drive to Iowa to spend Thanksgiving with my family and also with the Wadsgreens – so tonight was very much about clearing the fridge, packing the bags, and doing a bit of meal prep since we’re likely to roll into Davenport just in time for dinner.

I would say that my grandparents are getting up there in years, but that would be an understatement. They’re old. My grandma was born in 1918, so her first Thanksgiving would’ve been just after Armistice Day. My grandpa was born two years later – his childhood on a farm in very rural Iowa might’ve looked like this:

1920' ish Iowa
Photo by drivebybiscuits1

This year we’ll have eleven at dinner: the two of us, my grandparents, my parents and my aunt Nancy, Eric, Jenn, Bill, and little Max. Mark will be celebrating with friends in California, but will be home for Christmas. Uncle Tom, Aunt Ann, and the little cousins will be with Ann’s family. Uncle Rich will be in Iowa City. There will be turkey and stuffing and Grandma’s mashed potatoes and butterhorn rolls. We will drink wine out of tiny glasses, and Grandma will fuss over the dishes if we don’t get the dishwasher started before she can get up from the table. It will be very warm in the house. These things never change, though this year I’ll be introducing two new dishes: sweet potatoes with pecans and goat cheese and carrot cake, both from Smitten Kitchen.

Part of the reason I love friend Thanksgivings so much is the lack of codified traditions. We each bring our own things to the table – literally and figuratively – and discard the things that don’t work. I love this. But I also love the traditions. I love the fact that our family recipes – boring and predictable as they can be – are ties to the past, to the years of shrimp cocktail before dinner, of being sandwiched at the dinner table between my aunt and my mom, of sneaking sips of wine after the meal. I argued against having a turkey this year, but I know I’d miss it if it wasn’t on the sideboard along with Mom’s cranberry sauce and the small cut glass salad bowls.

Going home for the holidays is expensive and time consuming – hours in the car, money for pet sitters and expensive tanks of gas and food on the road. Moods run thin, we eat too much, and sleep is compromised by unfamiliar beds. I dread the drive and the stress, and part of me will be relieved when we don’t have to make as long of a trip. At the same time, I treasure the years and years of memories, and look forward to the brief amount of time we’ll have with my family around the table. I feel tremendously blessed.

Thanksgiving Eve

In the years I lived in Champaign, Thanksgiving Eve was always the best night to go out.  The sorts of people who go out on Thanksgiving Eve can be generally broken into two camps: those who are home for the holiday and happy to be out seeing friends and loved ones, and those who are avoiding either the friends/loved ones or don’t have them to begin with.  In short, it’s an ideal night to go out if you want to have one drink with people, or if you want to sit at the end of the bar with your beer and read your book for a while.  I miss that.

It’s Thanksgiving Eve here in Alexandria, and our apartment is humming with laundry and dishes and puttering as we get ready for Jason and Sonya to arrive in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.  We’ve dispensed with tradition, so tonight we made no pies, prepped no mashed potatoes.  Instead, we hit Rustico’s happy hour, where we split a fantastic grilled cheese, then ran a few errands, visited Michigan and Iko (two of our four pet wards for the weekend), and made pumpkin ice cream for dinner #2 over the weekend.  Even though it’s been a 3 day work week, it feels like it’s been a loooong 3 days, and I’m delighted for 4 days off.

In the morning I’ll post my list of thanks, probably over my morning cup of coffee for which I’m ALWAYS thankful.  What are you thankful for this year?