Friday, November 23, 2007

Postcards From a Day of Giving Thanks


Sara (from Chicago) :

Thanksgiving a la Barron:

Two notable traditions were carried on this year:

1) The Barron Family Walk. My mother forces my brother, father and me on a two-hour-long walk around our neighborhood prior to our Thanksgiving dinner. “Why?” you may ask? Is it scenic? Not especially. Do we pay a visit to old friends? We do not. We are, according to Mamma Barron, “keeping our hearts healthy,” prior to consuming 3000 calories in one sitting. She also plays the “family bonding” card on us all during The Walk. In recent years, this centers on her asking me whether or not I’ll be getting her a grandchild anytime soon. Asian babies are her favorite, she tells me. And in light of the absence of a husband/life partner in my day-to-day existence, she’s constantly suggesting I pull a Jolie and adopt. This, she thinks, is a good decision for a gal like me, who can barely afford health insurance.

2) The Dinner. We always get together with the Lenords: parents Pam and Bill, daughters Meg and Jane. We’ve held this tradition for as long as I’ve been alive, and it was always a nice enough way to spend the holidays. Until, that is, both Meg and Jane moved together from Chicago to Eugene, Oregon. So now they sport dreadlocks and skip shaving, which, let me just say, has a SERIOUSLY NEGATIVE affect on the holiday smells circling around the dinner table. Yams? Bueno! Yams + Oregonian B.O…no bueno! In recent years, Sam refuses to eat dinner at the dining table if he has to sit near either of them.

Happy holidays, bitches. Who’s going to post-Thanksgiving spinning class with me when we all get back next week? Any takers for Bushwick’s finest $11/month gym???


Amanda (from San Francisco) :

You all know, as a child of divorced parents, I have always had two Thanksgivings. This is the breakdown this year:

I drove up to the Bay Area from L.A. Wednesday night with Oscar. My mother and I spent all day shopping at the amazing, local, farmers market. We stocked the house with lots of fresh flowers and organic beeswax candles and all sorts of gourds and squash. Then we cooked together. My mother prefers to make Cornish game hens rather than a turkey. I think the big bird is too much of a commitment and frightens her. Plus, she says turkey is too dry. So, we stuffed the little birds with a wild rice and cranberry stuffing—bread free, of course! (Kimberly, let me know if you want the recipe). The menu also included baked butternut squash and Brussel sprouts roasted with pine nuts and bacon. Then I made a vegan pumpkin pie with a gluten-free crust (it’s made of toasted nuts and dried fruit). Seriously good. Erin, don’t roll your eyes!

The guest list was small, but one of my mother’s friends has two pug dogs that accompany her everywhere she goes, so there was a total of three dogs competing for scraps. Kimberly’s nightmare…

Today, I’m going into San Francisco to have dinner with my stepbrothers, at the restaurant where my stepmother is getting great reviews as the head Pastry Chef. She will most likely have a little wine with us after she’s finished her work and joins us at the table in the middle of the restaurant dining room. Then she’ll excitedly thank me for “introducing” her to my father. (She always does this around the holidays when she is feeling sentimental from a little booze.) I don’t remember introducing them when I was 3-years-old and she was my NANNY, but I guess I was some sort of matchmaker in her version of family history…

My father will not be with us because he’s on tour in Europe. He is spending Thanksgiving alone inAmsterdam.

“Must be nice,” says my mother. She’s not bitter.

I am meeting him in a couple of weeks in Paris. By the way ladies, I plan to eat (gasp!) lots of bread and cheese and chocolate while I’m there…

Oh, and Saturday night after Thanksgiving is my 10 year high-school reunion. Sara, let me know how yours goes!

 

Erin (from Connecticut) :

Maybe they’re boring, but I love all Thanksgiving traditions! This year (like all others) went a little something like this:

- I woke up early to the delicious aroma of Mom’s homemade, sour cream, coffee cake…she makes it every year, without fail. I stayed in my PJs until noon and ate tons of it, while watching the Macy’s Day Parade, as Mom asked me over and over to help in kitchen. I eventually gave in (once my stomach started to hurt from too much coffee cake) and started “my duties.”

- I’m always in charge of the table setting. Dinner Belle skills put to use at home…usually this involves elaborately folded napkins (this year I made ducks!) tons of silverware, and every piece of china and expensive glassware my family owns. It makes for a very sparkly table by the end!

- The family started coming over around 1PM and we ate way too many hors d’œuvres. Which was just stupid because we were about to eat so many good dishes! My mom is truly becoming more and more gourmet every year. She is a huge fan of the Food Network, although has not gotten into the Internet so much and still insists on scribbling down notes as fast as she can while watching a live cooking show. I have told her she can just download the recipe…but she prefers this.

- We sat down to eat at around 6PM, everyone already full from the large quantity of appetizers, dutifully supplied every year by my Aunt, and said grace. We took a moment to remember everyone we’ve lost, then do the traditional “squeeze” around the table (a hand squeeze passed from one person to the next, we have been doing for as many years as I can remember). Then it’s fruit cup time…a little taste of something good for you before everyone starts over-filling their plates with fattening good-ness

- Witty banter usually ensues, along with some jokes from my Uncle, and some precocious comments made by the younger cousins. Mom and I always get caught feeding the kitties under the table, a habit that drives some crazy, especially when mom let’s Charlie (our oldest and most decrepit cat) sit on her lap while she polishes off her po-turnips!

- Then after far too much wine, and a nibble of every dessert on the table, I headed to bed around 9PM….no reason to fight the tryptophan, I say!


Kimberly (from Chicago) :

Chicago is a first for me this Thanksgiving. My family gathered to initiate our three new instant members, the Ukrainian Imports as we affectionately call them. I’m becoming Godmother (!) to the oldest child, Lula, of three siblings between the ages of two and seven, who my aunt and uncle adopted this year from Eastern Europe. There will be a huge celebration this weekend in a firehouse. Because my Aunt Meg is, in fact a firewoman…

As for Turkey Day itself, I made dinner with The Fam, including my famous sugar pie pumpkins stuffed with creamy risotto. Amanda, you’ll be interested to know that my uncle, who hosted the event, used to be a manager at Whole Foods and now is in “green” real estate development…point being, any meal we have at their house is organic, local, and slow. So delicious!

A few illustrative facts about my day: After a stroke earlier this year, Grandpa now drinks his martinis through a straw—all five of them; my 31-year-old brother just got his first full-time job last week, so we toasted his late ascent into adulthood; Mom’s potty-mouth was choice after some hard cider; the Imports, who are learning to speak English by listening to popular music, sang Dixie Chicks songs in full Ukrainian accents at the top of their lungs all day, having no idea what “I’m not ready to make nice/ I’m not ready to back down/ I’m still mad as hell and/ I don’t have time to go round and round and round ” actually means.

 

Celest (from New York City) :

My On Again/Off Again and I spent a cozy Thanksgiving together. Of course we didn’t actually get up at 7AM, as we had planned, to fight the tourists and trek over to Broadway for the parade of scary balloons and horrible lip-synchers. Instead, we slept late, trekked to 6th Ave. for bagels with egg salad at Murray’s (the best in the city as far as I’m concerned), and then settled in for lots of football. How ‘bout them Cowboys! I called home and got “passed around the table” to all my family members in Dallas, during halftime (they wouldn’t have talked to me during the game anyway). The ‘Boys won big, so we headed off to Thanksgiving dinner at Five Points with huge smiles on our faces. I skipped the turkey for a delicious beef short rib, sides of Brussel sprouts roasted with pancetta and candied sweet potatoes, followed by an apple crisp with bourbon-pecan ice cream. I could have used a little more bourbon flavor in that ice cream, but Kimberly, you and I will have to return to the Five Points bar at least, so you can have one of the lavender-infused Bull Dog Gin gimlets that thrilled me!

We finished off with a late showing of American Gangster. Ahhh, Denzel. He can do no wrong…

Here’s to Thanksgivings as romantic as Valentines Days!

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