Today we celebrate our tenth year of hosting a pot-luck Thanksgiving feast for friends: mostly seniors, who otherwise would be alone today. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a day when people gather with their families, enjoy camaraderie, storytelling, music, football games on television, and too much food centered around roast turkey, as demonstrated by my friend, the Swedish Chef, and his uncle, here:
It is unfortunate that because the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday is so close to Christmas (I think the Canadians got it right when they celebrate the holiday in October), that families who are separated geographically do not get together at Thanksgiving if they must make a forced choice on which holiday to choose to gather. Thus, about 90 people we know do not have an opportunity today to get together with their respective families. But we are happy to serve as a substitute this Thanksgiving Day.
Throughout the day today, my own family will pick up senior friends and bring them to our home. Our friends bring with them some food item that they made or bought. Their contributions range from appetizers to vegetables to breads to desserts. Or, some may have contributed plastic utensils, paper products, or even trash bags (goodness knows we need them!) All of this was organized this year by the world’s #1 logistician, a senior bud and terrific planner.
Our senior friends come in “shifts” and at any given time, we may have 20 to 30 guests, being tended to by about ten of my family (siblings, nieces, and nephews). All I do is cook two turkeys the day before, and two on Thanksgiving Day. I rotate the turkey to the carving board and then warming trays throughout the day. And that’s really all I have to do, food-wise: cook four turkeys. Everything else is provided in abundance by our visitors.
We laugh, listen to the piano, talk, smile, share, and enjoy rich camaraderie among one another. And, about every two hours, we stop the festivities for a while and conduct one of my family traditions. We hold hands and go around the room and ask each person to Give Thanks to someone for something. I have spent hours composing my Thanksgiving Messages, which I anticipate with great hope will be well-received, as they are truly heart-felt.
By the end of the day, when my family helpers, my partner, and I have cleaned up the worst of it, disposed of the mess, and put what needs to be discarded in bags or boxes in the garage (which we will recycle, compost, or take to the dump tomorrow), we give my family helpers a small gift to thank them. My partner is terrific in finding just the right gift to give to them. Then, after they leave, my partner and I turn down the lights, turn on the piano one last time, and give each other a card. This is our tradition. We turn to one another, hold hands, look into each other’s eyes, and say why we are thankful this year.
Some people think that this huge all-day pot-luck Thanksgiving event is a big deal and a hassle. Actually, after ten years, we have gotten it down to a science. With everyone’s help and organization, things roll along very smoothly. it is an American expression to say, “it was a piece of cake” when referring to accomplishing a task easily. In this case, we say, “it was a piece of pie” because everyone knows that pie is the dessert of choice on Thanksgiving (not cake.)
Life is short: show those you love that you love them. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, everywhere!