For many years Thanksgiving has been at our house wherever that might be. I started having Thanksgiving at my home back in 1971 when a group of college friends made their way to the old farm house I had purchased on the Nova Scotia shore of the Bay of Fundy.
A couple of years later, I got married, and we continued the tradition. First we were still having Thanksgiving in Nova Scotia, and then we moved to our farm in Tay Creek, New Brunswick, just north of the provincial capital Fredericton in the heart of a snow belt. Some of my college friends even made it up there for a Thanksgiving. I still remember I was just finishing a barn that year.
Another decade, a couple more moves, and we ended up back in the United States. I had gone from raising purebred bulls to selling computers for Apple. That first two years back in the states, we lived in Columbia, MD, and instead of having Thanksgiving in our home, we headed back to Mount Airy, NC and had Thanksgiving with our parents.
We were only in Columbia for a couple of years before we moved to Roanoke, Va. Fortunately it was a lot closer to Mount Airy because we continued to head to Mount Airy every Thanksgiving. Sometime before the year 2000, we stopped going to Mount Airy, and I made a trip down and brought my mother back to our house. By then she was the only surviving parent.
With one exception the next ten Thanksgiving holidays were celebrated in our Roanoke home with all of our children traveling back to our home on the mountain. The one exception was a Thanksgiving at our place on the North Carolina coast.
While the locations changed, the food rarely did. My wife is a fantastic cook, and Thanksgiving became one of her signature meals with a perfectly prepared turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, homemade cranberry sauce, green beans or peas, rolls and usually a pumpkin pie.
Any cook knows that getting all of that on the table piping hot and perfectly cooked is a challenge. My role, other than carving the turkey, and making the mashed potatoes was to keep the dishes, pots, and pans washed as the meal was being prepared. We used to joke that Thanksgiving was a time to be chained either to the sink or the stove. As the years have passed by, the girls have started to handle some of the cooking, but their mom was still in charge of the turkey and gravy.
Other than efforts to accomodate our son who sometime along the way decided he didn't like turkey, the menu varied little.
This year we faced a dilema. Our youngest daughter was going to have to work Thanksgiving Day and the day after Thanksgiving. Our oldest daughter recognizing a crisis in the making took charge of the event. She arranged for a family suite in a hotel near our youngest daughter. She ordered most of the family Thanksgiving meal pre-cooked from Fresh Market. My wife ended up cooking a gigantic turkey breast, a pumpkin pie, and making her homemade cranberry sauce.
Most of the meal was warmed in disposable aluminum pans. We even ate off paper plates. Since our daughter doesn't have chairs for her new "old" table, we ate on bar stools around a large island in her kitchen.
We had a wonderful meal, and lots of great family time together enjoying the antics of our two year old granddaughter. The day after Thanksgiving we took her to the Carolina Raptor Center and enjoyed a hike through the woods.
While this year brought back memories of many other Thanksgivings, the scaled back meal made up for some of this year's travel. We will have some wonderful memories about this Thanksgiving to go with ones from the past. Some of the memories will be about something other than the great turkey dinner. I think that is a good thing. I think our only purchase on black Friday was lunch at Chicago Dog.
Everyone managed to get back home safely which is always a relief. As the chilly air has plunged down across the US this weekend after Thanksgiving, I have wondered what our Christmas holiday will be like, and just where we might end up having next Thanksgiving.
As we age things change. Families grow up, spread out, and get busy with their own lives. Getting together becomes a challenge, but I am glad we made it work one more time. This year there were no traveling pets, but we still had a couple of large black dogs always under foot and near the food.
In the end, Thanksgiving is not about where you have it or what is on the menu. It is all about being with your family and friends and creating some new memories. We made some great ones this year.
I will be looking forward to next year, no mattter where we end up.