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A Thanksgiving Carol

You will be visited by three Thanksgivings spirits; expect the first on Sunday, when the bell tolls six.

So much thanks to give; so many carbs to consume; so many sips of wine to sipped and laughs to have. And it all happened in the matter of just a few hours…

Before I knew it, the hour was upon me. The ghost of Thanksgiving present visited me first (I know we’re starting out-of-order, but this is literally the order, so follow along). Sunday’s sky was gloomy, but the rain had seized. There was nothing very cheerful in the climate, but peering inside the window, through the brush, gathered around borrowed tables and chairs, in a tiny, peach-tinted dining room sit 13 of some of my closest friends. Oddly, we’re a mishmash of locals and Midwesterners – and you can tell by the dishes lined up the buffet: cauliflower mash from a local, and cornbread casserole from a Midwesterner; roasted Brussels sprouts with sage and bacon from a local, and cranberry and spiced apples from a Midwesterner.

There is more wine on the table than any Thanksgiving I’ve ever attended. We are a motley crew of mostly wine industry workers with a few tech guys and business owners mixed in. Jovial and full of glee – and wine, all these people are what I love most about the present.

Jamie delivered the bird for our banquet, which her partner in crime, Scott eagerly carved. Mark held his glass high beckoning for a friendsgiving toast; and the last of the stragglers, namely, Jon, with a second bowl for food, took their seats for our bountiful feast. “Cheers!” we all shouted in time with clinking glasses and plunged our forks down.

And as we feasted, we took turns offering our many thanks for the evening – mostly each other and the food that we had put before us. “It’s pretty special,” I said when it was my turn, “we manage to come together like no other group of friends I’ve had before; whether for zombies or friendsgiving.” We rose a glass to those who could not attend, and put aside our issues and fantasy football tracking for a few hours for friendsgiving – the 3rd of hopefully many more to come.

The ghost of Thanksgiving Past leads me to Mom’s house. 705 Brown Street is the place of many a Thanksgiving. 705 Brown Street seems to have the magical ability to expand when family and friends were around; it grows larger and warmer. It doesn’t matter the year or the size of the party; Thanksgiving at Mom’s always feels the same.

“Rise and walk with me,” says the ghost, and the sweet smells of brown and orange and autumn lead us through the halls and into the kitchen.

The preparations are all the same, year after year, maybe with slightly larger portions, but all the standards are there. You can find her in the kitchen, turkey resting; rolls in the oven; vegetables finishing on the stovetop. The table has already been set, and a mixture of old and new faces fill the space with laughter that hangs on the coattails of the aromas emanating from every dish, on every inch of counter space. The classic dishes from my past: Mom’s roasted chestnut stuffing and cranberry-orange relish, surrounded by a bevy of dishes that are always evolving, and a pumpkin pie on the side table for later. These are the things I look forward to the most. Flash back another 20 years, to my sister, Angela pulling a bottle of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider out of the fridge. It wouldn’t be the holidays without the nostalgic fizz of applely goodness, so much so, that even though we’ve now graduated to adult beverages, there is still a bottle of Martinelli’s in the fridge, just in case.

There is more food than anyone could ever eat, but I still go back for a second helping of stuffing. Hours of cooking turn into 30 minutes of eating, and everyone sits back in his or her seat, searching to another inch of space for pumpkin pie. That’s Thanksgiving at Mom’s; full of food, and gone in a whirlwind of gravy and sweet potatoes.

And then the ghost of Thanksgiving Future arrived before I knew it. “I do not fear you any more than any specter I have seen,” I tell the ghost, who’s a vision of Amber, years down the road; and I smile, and she smiles back.

I am transported to a house with a familiarity to it. I’m not sure where or who’s it is, but it feels like home. A collection of future in-laws and families gather around a large table, while a small kids table sits in front of the TV. Amber tends to the children before sitting down for dinner with all the typical fixings. Not every dish is Mom’s – there’s a touch of me, and Amber, and Mom, and Heather (Amber’s mom). All that I have become used to eating over the years has evolved. Growing up, the thought of Thanksgiving away from Mom’s house was blasphemy. I was always strongly opposed Thanksgiving elsewhere, especially because that decision was made without my consent – that, and no ones cooking ever seemed to compare to Mom’s. But over the years, I guess I grew up and learned to accept a slightly different stuffing, and a cranberry relish with no orange, and a pumpkin pie that was not Mom’s. I realize this future Thanksgiving is at my table. It’s not about the food, but the people, when it really comes down to it. The food matters not nearly as much as being surrounded by loved ones, no matter how close the relation.

Before I know it, I’m awake. Its Monday morning, and I’ve survived the gluttonous week of eating. I am thankful for all I have and all that the future holds. And I’m thankful for leftovers. Last year, I experimented with the Thanksgiving burrito, this year: The Thanksgiving waffle!

Thanksgiving Waffles
2 eggs
1 cup leftover stuffing or 1 cup leftover mashed sweet potatoes/yams
2 cup all-purpose flour
1¾ cup milk
1 tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

1. Heat waffle iron.

2. Add all ingredients into bowl stir until mixture is smooth.

3. Cook waffles until golden brown.

4. Add any or all of you leftovers on top of the waffle – turkey, cranberries, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy. Drizzle a bit of syrup for additional moisture if you have no leftover gravy.

 

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