It all started on Thursday afternoon when I got home from work. Here in Canada, Thursday was...well, Thursday. Not Thanksgiving. But it was Thanksgiving to me, so I started cooking in preparation for our 3rd Annual Southern American Thanksgiving feast on Friday evening. A little non-traditional, but that's okay.
TC was hard at work assembling extra tables to make room for the seventeen bodies that were going to be seated. He also went around to our friends houses and borrowed chairs and delivered casseroles that were to be popped in the oven right before everyone came over on Friday night. Bless his little heart, I don't know what I'd do without him. Surely there would not be a Thanksgiving dinner of this caliber.
Friday I woke up ready to take on the big day. I spent the morning finishing up the table, baking biscuits and cleaning up the house.
Then two Godsends walked in the door to prep the turkey and deliver dressing - my in-laws. There are no two better people on the planet. They came in like ninjas. They turned on the oven, cleaned the turkey, stuffed it and then vanished into thin air. If I didn't have photographic evidence I might have thought it was a dream.
Thankfully, Carla stopped by in the afternoon to check on me and see how things were going. I was in that awkward stage of the day where I've done all that I can do before the final stages of getting the meal together.
With a little time on our hands, we decided to get a little crafty and make place cards for everyone (thanks for the inspiration, Dagni!). Instead of writing names, we thought it would be more entertaining to put 'labels' about each person so they would have to really figure out where they were seated. For example, Wine On My Wedding Dress. Ahem, Christina. Or The Firefighter's Fire for our friend Aly, who is dating a fireman. Funny, no?
As expected, Cookie Monster went to TC. How fitting.
The best part of the place cards was that everyone managed to somehow wear their name for the night.
I sense the beginning of a new tradition...
Eventually, Christina showed up. It's our tradition to don our aprons and make the sweet tea cocktail. This is where the fun really begins. You see, sweet tea cocktail is made in small batches and each one must be taste-tested to ensure the correct proportion of sweet tea, lemonade and vodka. We don't bother writing down the recipe because that would ruin all of our fun. It's much more exciting to take shots of the concoction as we tweak it. Plus, it helps calm us down and make me stop sweating over whether the turkey is going to come out as a big pile of saw dust.
Can we take a second and discuss how truly grateful I am for Carla and Christina? These two ladies welcomed we with open arms the minute I set foot on Canadian soil. They were my first friends here and are amazing. Not only that, but Thanksgiving would definitely not happen without them.
Anyway, around six o'clock the crowd started rolling in and the pace picked up.
TC got the turkey out of the oven and carved it like a champ.
Christina and I did work on the gravy and enjoyed every second of it, thanks to our happy hour of taste-testing the sweet tea cocktail.
Of course, everyone was handed a glass of sweet tea deliciousness when they walked through the door. And of course, it was served in chalkboard glasses and mason jars for a little extra Southern hospitality.
As the final prep came to a close, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. It was all good.
And it was time to eat.
Dinner was delicious. I actually took the time this year to sit and eat and enjoy it.
I took it all in and looked around the table, I silently said thank you for all of these wonderful friends and slowly enjoyed my meal while chatting with Cookie Monster, The Captain and Soon To Be Employed.
After dinner was over I took a break from conversation and turned around to see no less that six of my wonderful friends in the kitchen forming an impressive assembly line to get all the dishes done. Then they served all five pies I made for dessert like they were a bunch of seasoned waiters. When that was over, the boys dismantled all the extra tables and moved the couches back in the living room in no time flat. Yes, we have a small apartment and our 17 foot Thanksgiving table extends all the way through the dining room and living room. Yes, I know that's ridiculous.
It was amazing.
In true Maritime style, the party carried on in the very clean kitchen. Then, someone, some glorious person did what I've always wanted to do at Thanksgiving - they said we should all go around and say what we're thankful for.
I was so happy at that moment I could have burst.
Here I am in Canada, far away from my usual Thanksgiving traditions and yet lucky enough to be able to get seventeen wonderful Canadian friends together to give thanks and embrace an American holiday that's important to me. Pretty awesome...
Oh, and I have to tell you how the night ended...many hours later...
TC has a huge bike collection in the basement. He always says that if we have enough bikes then we can go for late night bike rides with all of our friends or people could just bike home instead of calling a cab. Up until this Thanksgiving it had never happened - but it did that night. It was the perfect end to our evening.