A different Thanksgiving planned this year

In the years Chris and I have been together, we’ve traveled every Thanksgiving long weekend. In 2012, we went to Puerto Rico; in 2013, we went to Germany. 2014 was Budapest, Hungary, and Vienna, Austria, 2015 was Switzerland (too many cities to name given we were city hopping with our Golden Rail Pass), 2016 was Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia, Spain, 2017 was Northern Italy (Milan, Bologna, and Venice, 2018 was Portugal, and 2019 was Amsterdam, The Hague, in The Netherlands, plus Bruges and Brussels, Belgium. So it’s mostly been a European Thanksgiving for us each year, with the exception of 2012. 2020, of course, was different given the pandemic. It was a quiet Thanksgiving here with just the two of us, and our dinner ended up being much later than expected since I was filming a video for the channel on what I made, which was Chinese-style oxtail stew.

Well, this year is also different. Any day now, Pookie Bear will make her arrival, which meant no travel for us at this time of year. Chris is whining about the lack of travel, but honestly, I rather have my little Pookie Bear pending than any world travel. In addition, we’ll be here at home in New York in our own apartment, so I’m hoping Pookie Bear holds off on making an arrival until at least after Thanksgiving day. We invited my best friend over and another friend I met through AFSP fundraising, and some neighbors I befriended at the gym may stop by. Given we have at least two guests coming, I’m trying to devise a menu that isn’t too complicated but isn’t too simple. We will definitely be having a slow-roasted leg of lamb, likely with harissa and a yogurt sauce. One of my friends is pescatarian, so I’ll need to make a fish dish, maybe roasted salmon with orange and pomegranate. I want to make a brussel sprouts slaw with butternut squash and pomegranate seeds since it’s simple and fresh, plus maybe a mushroom-gruyere bread stuffing. Since we have guests, maybe I’ll do my annual challah again, too. I want to make sticky date pudding for dessert, and my friend offered to pick up a pumpkin pie and babka from Breads Bakery because you can never have too many sweet treats on Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving is kind of one of those controversial holidays in terms of its origins (mainly Columbus coming and slaughtering all the native Americans yet somehow eating all their food), but for me, I just think of loved ones gathering around delicious food and spending time together. Our early Thanksgiving celebrations with friends were always fun and enjoyable to me, and making food for people I love is always something I look forward to. Growing up in my two-family home in San Francisco, we didn’t have the most gourmet Thanksgiving meals ever: we had Stovetop-brand bread stuffing, cranberry sauce and jelly out of a can, and gravy made from a packet. My uncle would typically make the turkey, which was always quite delicious given he was a line cook by training and profession, and we’d have other things like a generic lettuce and tomato salad, store-bought pumpkin pie, and my dad’s annual German-style cheesecake. But I still loved and looked forward to all of us gathering and eating these foods at the same table every year. The togetherness always made me happy. When I got older, I started contributing to the Thanksgiving table by making homemade everything. It eventually died when my family became extremely dysfunctional and no one wanted to eat together anymore, but that was fine. It just meant I wanted to do this for other loved ones in my life who may not actually be blood family. Now, it’s about chosen family. And that’s all good by me.

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