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Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Orphan Thanksgiving

"What makes the Thanksgiving meal special to you?"

That was the question I posed to my friends seven years ago, when I invited them to my San Francisco apartment. Being from the South, the answer for me was sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and pecans on top (and the cranberry sauce that slurps its way from the can). I was surprised by what others from different corners of the States had to add to the mix. A particular friend couldn't have Thanksgiving without Brussels sprouts. I've never been a fan of the vegetable, so I tried them with trepidation and have since made them a regular part of my winter diet. Another made her stuffing with oysters. Her mother was British and says it was always on their table growing up. I trusted her, but I made my way toward the more traditional: cornbread and stuffing.

The reason I asked the question to begin with was that my husband and I were hosting an orphan Thanksgiving.

Like so many of our friends, our families were on the East Coast, well out of range for such a short (and terribly expensive travel) weekend. So 16 people gathered at our house around 4 p.m., bottles of wine and special dishes in hand. It was our policy to invite anyone we knew who didn't have travel plans, and he or she could bring a friend.

My friend Shannon was very excited about her date for the evening. He was a local lounge singer, and she promised some post-dinner entertainment. However, the entertainment started when he walked in the door. Mr. Love professed his eternal thanks at the invitation and presented me with a "very fine bottle of wine" and suggested we open and decant it immediately, as it "needed time to breathe." Oh, dear. Granted, I did live in Northern California, where people knew their wine, but this guy was with the wrong crowd. Six years out of college, and I still believed the difference between a $10 bottle of wine and and a $50 bottle of wine was $40 less to spend on more wine. Mr. Love joined the rest of the crowd in the back to witness the turkey deep-frying under the watchful eye of my husband. I went ahead and decanted the darn wine.

The rest of the night was wonderful, filled with loud, fun stories and plenty more bottles of wine opened. Including a fun magnum from a winery that a friend had visited earlier in the year and was waiting for the right occasion to open.

(As an aside, here is a little trivia for you: A magnum is twice as much as a standard .75-liter bottle, a Methuselah is eight times, Balthazar is 16 times, and a Nebuchadnezzar is a whopping 20 bottles of wine, all in one bottle.)

So after the fancy decanted wine, the magnum, and a variety of others, we were all stuffed and happy to be together. The only thing to do next was, of course, to have a little dance party. Looking back, I have no idea who was deejaying or who decided to dance on my table first, but before I knew it, Shannon (who invited Mr. Love) was disco-dancing in her (very pointy) Prada boots, leaving tiny little indents all over the top. At the time, I thought it was great. And looking back, I still like to look at my table and see the little indents, reminding me of that fun and festive Thanksgiving, full of joy and friends.

Nowadays, my Thanksgiving table is walked on by my little 2-year-old's feet, and we drink fewer bottles of wine and a bit more milk. But we are still surrounded by the love of family and friends, and I hope that is the Thanksgiving tradition my children carry on — along with the sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and the slurping cranberry sauce, of course.

Post submitted by Katie from The Mommies Network's Content Team

The Mommies Network would like to wish 
you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!


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