A zillion years ago, when I was first married, my husband and I started a Thanksgiving tradition. Instead of spending the holiday with extended family, whom we see at other holidays, we decided to hold our own potluck event for friends and occasionally random (friendly) strangers.
Over the course of nearly three decades, the attendance has risen and fallen â€“ as high as twenty-five, as low as seven â€“ and people have arrived, moved away and sometimes moved back. Thereâ€™s been at least one minister, whose family was out of town, and several elderly guests from my husbandâ€™s church; numerous Jewish friends and Iâ€™m sure our share of atheists. Weâ€™ve watched our friendsâ€™ children grow up and have produced two sons ourselves, the elder of whom is now in college.
My husband, who rarely cooks, prepares the turkey and stuffing. I shop, make the gravy and mashed potatoes, and provide incidentals such as rolls and cranberry sauce.
Looking back, I recall memorable guests and moments. My older sonâ€™s first Thanksgiving, being passed from guest to guest. Friends from the Associated Press, where I used to work, including the then-science writer, who donned an apron and washed dishes afterwards.
The food varies each year, although some regulars have developed their own niche. Our older sonâ€™s best friend from preschool â€“ now in college â€“ and his family bring pies. One Chinese-American family prepares Chinese food; another prefers to fix sweet potatoes. Sometimes there are two fruit salads, or two types of stuffing, or extra mashed potatoes. Of course, we enjoy the leftovers!
Next fall, our younger son starts college. We hope that, like his brother, heâ€™ll always come home for the holidays. Thereâ€™s nothing like greeting old friends, making new ones, and enjoying a changing assortment of food.