Thanksgiving Dinner Outdoors

A Recipe For Thanksgiving

A big comfort-food meal, gathering with gratitude in mind, these are the reasons Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’m not going to say it’s not stressful because it is. You have to make a lot of things—this one’s favorite this, that one’s favorite that. I can’t help but get cranky and high-pitched in the hours leading up to The Meal. The food timing, especially the turkey, is tricky. A friend deep-fried a turkey on our driveway a few years ago. Let’s just say we had a fire extinguisher and several vegetarians at the table so everything worked out.

The mission of Thanksgiving is pure and delicious: getting the people you love together to give thanks for everything you can think of (and recite.) Eating everyone’s favorite foods and lots. It is so much better than Christmas which for me is like being a contestant on The Amazing Race.

The Thanksgiving I will never forget took place in a stranger’s backyard at the longest table I’d ever seen. My husband and I had just moved to a small community in Knoxville, TN. There were at least twenty people gathered for a Pot Luck Thanksgiving, and we knew two of them. Many of them were new to each other as well. We shook lots of hands and generally felt weird, being two New Yorkers among strangers in the South. Eventually we piled our plates with all the this and that they could hold. We sat side-by-side, across a narrow divide, and got to know each other.  Everyone made the effort. There was such warmth and a feeling of genuine community in that table.

If I made a recipe for that afternoon, it would have the following directions: come as you are, bring what you like, take a seat anywhere, and share. This year, we are celebrating Thanksgiving just like this with our family in Colorado and their wonderful friends. You would be surprised how many people can sit on a couch and balance a plate.