I truly have the most amazing friends in the world...
In the 23 years since I left home, I can count on 4 fingers the years I didn't host and cook Thanksgiving dinner. One year I had 22 people and served in 2 shifts. It's my signature dinner, and I could prepare it with one eye closed and a missing leg. Under anesthesia. Anyone who's attended one of these superlative feasts will tell you its the best damn Turkey dinner they've ever had, and that my green bean casserole creams the competition. Sorry Mom, even yours.
Friends are the family you acquire after you grow up, especially if you never marry. Or marry and divorce. Two or three times, for all intents and purposes... It is this family I speak of that has populated the dinner table for all of these feasts. One of my favorite traditions was born on Thanksgiving, in my first apartment on Martin Drive. Each year everyone writes down what they're thankful for and slips the note into an urn I keep on the mantle, and no my Mother isn't in there. She's at my sister's house. On her mantle. Anyway after dinner but during pie, Cherrie reads the slices of gratitude aloud. Inevitably, someones sister has survived cancer, or a son has returned home from the war. We all get a little misty. Me? I always seem to be thankful for the same thing. A houseful of friends, of family.
For my 40th birthday, Jeffrey offered to take me to Europe for the first time. He's been a slew of times and decided that not only did I need a vacation, but that I needed a VACATION! He suggested the last week of November, and at first I didn't even think about it being over Thanksgiving. When it dawned on me that I wouldn't be around to put on the spread, did I suddenly grow sullen and nostalgic for the 20+ years of tradition and camaraderie? Um, no. I'm like bitches please, the brine recipe is in the archives. I have a plane to catch! Smooches.
Always the type to be prepared for spontaneous international travel, my first passport expired after 10 years without a single stamp in it. The second one was stolen in Indonesia with a (fresh) stamp from there, and one from Japan. It was a trip for work, but an adventure nonetheless. Hence stolen. Its replacement has been patiently waiting in the top drawer of my nightstand (sandwiched between The Power of Now and certain unmentionables) for 4 years waiting its turn at customs.As you can imagine my excitement has been palpable.
So then what does one do when their travel partner is suddenly (and unfortunately) unable to travel abroad? Well, when its Jeffrey you say yes when he insists that you go anyway. Because he loves you, and knows you need it desperately. So this Thanksgiving I'll be in London, preparing a very different kind of dinner, for my wonderful new British friends. William is a vegetarian, so no turkey. I've also discovered that certain key ingredients for a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner are exotic across the pond, so I've crafted a menu that's a deconstructed version with nods to the key flavors, sans the bird of course. And I'm packing my Penzeys. If you know you know, and if you don't, then Google it.
My life was very different a year ago at this time. Last Thanksgiving was one of the ones I can count on the 4 fingers. Time heals many things, and honest gratitude manifests more things to be thankful for. Remember that. I personally don't know at this point how I could ever forget, for the power of gratitude has proven magical in my life. Someday, I'll tell you all about it.
In the meantime I have a suitcase to pack, squash to roast, and a plane to catch!
Did I mention that I have the most amazing friends... in the world?
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone.