Wednesday, November 23, 2011


DEBORAH CROMBIE: When I was growing up, our house was the Thanksgiving hub for both sides of the family. It was never really a Norman Rockwell scene, with everyone neatly seated and the turkey carved at the table--there were too many of us. The turkey was sliced up in the kitchen, the plates served buffet-style, and people found seats not only at the dining room table, but at card tables set up wherever we could stick them. The "kid's table" was, of course, the best, and without doubt the silliest.
I don't, however, remember anyone attending these Thanksgiving dinners who wasn't related, on one side or the other. I'm sure it wasn't a deliberate exclusion, but just that it was assumed that everyone had their own "family" dinner.

Fast forward a half century (that's a scary thought!) and our Thanksgiving looks both the same and different. Our house is now the hub, and it is full. The turkey still gets carved in the kitchen. There is a long dining room table, more like the one in the painting than my parents' table, in fact, although there will likely be overflow to the living room. And there is family--our daughter and her boyfriend.

But the other guests are a mix of our daughter's friends, our friends, neighbors, and those who may not have someplace else to go. (And our friends' nine-month-old daughter! We have a "little" for the first time in years, and are thrilled! Will she like sweet potatoes?) We no longer assume that the day is solely a celebration of nuclear family. We do, in fact, MAKE our family, and we celebrate friendship and community.

So, Jungle Reds, and dear readers, how do you celebrate the day?

: I'm cooking for fifteen, but ours is still mostly about family, mainly because my husband's family lives nearby. There's often a significant other and sometimes that significant other's entire family, but I don't think that's what you mean. I can't think of anything thing more in keeping with the holiday than opening up your doors and inviting friends who are either like family, or have no where else to go. Plus, that's just got to make for better dinner conversation, don't you think?

ROSEMARY HARRIS: People are going to want to send me food baskets...I'm an orphan. No surviving siblings. Husband was an only child. When his sons were young they spent T'giving with their mothers. Now they're married and/or living out of state. So I'll make a turkey breast and use the good china just for the two of us. Sometimes we volunteer at a shelter (I once served TGD to 300+ in New Orleans and may do the Unitarian Church this week.) But this year as in many past I'll celebrate with good friends on Saturday.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Ah, Rosemary? We're doing EXACTLY the same thing. Champagne, and all the extras. And we are SO happy to be together. The baby children are all in New York and California, celebrating with friends, and we will miss them. My Mom is in Indianapolis, and I will make sure our turkey is dry, in her honor. KIDDING!

I miss our family mother and stepfather were married on Thanksgiving, so it was always very special.

HALLIE EPHRON: We'll have it here with old and dear friends Anne and Larry and their grown children Gordon and Leah, plus our daughters Molly and Naomi and our son-in-law Jack. We make the turkey and our friends bring the fixins (they're vegetarians who will tolerate the bird on the table). I make a great turkey, if I do say so myself. The secret: Lawry's seasoning salt. Really.

LUCY BURDETTE: Growing up we always celebrated with my mother's two sisters and their families. But now my siblings are far away so we no longer have a regular rotation. This year though, I'm hosting 17, some of John's big family, one son, two neighbors, two good friends and their daughters. And everyone's contributing so I'm only responsible for turkey, stuffing, gravy and pies. I set the table on Tuesday when I was procrastinating about my edits (book due 12/1--yikes!!) And then immediately began to worry that the cat would find the whole thing immensely appealing...

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: We usually have a huge crowd of friends and "orphans" at our house - I think the head count last year was above 30. We and most of our friends live a very long way from family, so this is how we have a Norman Rockwell dinner without burning up one day in either direction traveling.

The big table in the dining room seats 14 adults, the older teens get to eat buffet style in the family room, the younger teens are at the kitchen table, and the littlest ones have a card table set up in front of the fireplace (sounds dicey but it's the closest they can get to the adult table.) Everyone brings favorite dishes and our musical friends come with their instruments, so there's often an impromptu concert/singalong afterwards.

DEBS: If there is a hospitality contest, I think Julia and Ross win it! The thought of feeding thirty people makes me feel faint. But it sounds wonderful, as does an intimate Thanksgiving for two.

Wherever you are, and however you celebrate, we at Jungle Reds wish you a happy day and blessings galore.


  1. I made a pecan pie yesterday using my normal wonderful pie crust recipe. The crust fell into the pie, so I made another. It too fell into the pie, so I made another. My husband came home and said they'd taste good anyway. I said that they had to look as good as they tasted since I was taking the pie to my mother-in-law's house. We argued. He didn't get it. I made a chocolate cream pie with a graham cracker crust instead. Worked fine. Now have three ugly pecan pies to eat. Men are blockheads.

  2. Laughing laughing laughing here, EB!! I knew my husband was a keeper when I made him a "cheese pie" and it ended up being more of a cheese soup with graham cracker croutons. He ate it. All.

  3. I'm usually the orphan who receives invitations, which I find fun. This year, I received three invites. And hopefully I'll make two of them, but I WILL NOT eat at the second, I promise! (Just a cocktail, or two.)

    I didn't grow up in a Thanksgiving house, so I don't know what the big family meal is like. But I relish my friend-families. Now, off to make my specialty winter squash galette. :-)

    Happy Thanksgiving! I appreciate your blog.

    (Hallie, didn't get a chance to meet you, but I attended the Book Passage Conference this year--thanks for participating! What a great conference.)

  4. I used to do big holiday feasts for my family & my first husband's. Then, my kids grew up, and my sister took over. This year, for the first time, it was going to be only Ben and me since my sister was traveling to TX to spend Thanksgiving with grown son.

    But at the last minute, we found out an employee of Ben's (who has severe disabilities) would be alone because her brother, who usually sends her a bus ticket to join his family, can't do it this year because the bus company has put a $65 surcharge on all bus tickets bought for someone else! So we're bringing her over to the house. I feel like spending the day picketing the bus company!

    And my Captcha is "demize." How appropriate (If slightly misspelled) for a mystery writer!

  5. The bus comany puts a Surcharge...HUH? Checkng into that..

    And EB--I'm howling. (I know how you feel...) But hey--you made pecan crumble!

    Love love love to you to baste.