Thanksgiving holds a special place in many hearts, mine included. It’s a time to pause, reflect, and express gratitude, regardless of life’s circumstances. For me, Thanksgiving took on new meaning at the age of 20 when my mother, the family’s glue, passed away. Faced with the fear of our family drifting apart, I took on the challenge of hosting Thanksgiving, a tradition we’ve continued for 36 years. This year, with a gathering of 35, simplicity in decor reigns supreme, allowing the focus to remain on the joy of togetherness.
Navigating the unknowns of hosting at a young age, I embarked on a mission to master the art of turkey baking and decipher an old family cornbread dressing recipe bereft of quantities or directions. What started as a solo endeavor has evolved into a collaborative effort, with each family member contributing to our annual Thanksgiving feast.
With a guest list of 35, keeping decor minimal ensures an intimate atmosphere. My preference lies in a simple, beautiful, and monochromatic table setting. This year’s table scape features a low centerpiece – two small white pumpkins on a black paulownia wood tray, resting atop a bed of wheat. The goal is to facilitate conversation and connection, fostering the warm spirit of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving isn’t just for adults; it’s a celebration for all ages. For the little ones, a thoughtful touch involves rolling out kraft paper and providing crayons and markers at the kids’ table. This not only keeps them engaged but also captures the essence of family togetherness and creativity during the festive occasion.
In the midst of the holiday hustle, prepping ahead is key. I lay out serving pieces in advance, each accompanied by serving spoons and a helpful sticky note detailing its intended contents. This small touch minimizes chaos and ensures smooth coordination in the bustling kitchen, allowing everyone to play a part in the shared feast.
Thanksgiving is more than a meal; it’s a tradition, a testament to resilience, and a celebration of gratitude. Whether facing the challenge of loss or reveling in the joy of togetherness, the essence of this holiday lies in the shared moments and the love that binds us. As I prepare to welcome 35 loved ones to my table this year, I cherish the memories of that first Thanksgiving without my mother and the journey that transformed a solo endeavor into a cherished family tradition.