Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving Chairs.

First of all, does anyone want to volunteer to rake my yard? 

No? I didn't think so. Neither do I.

Thanksgiving is one short week away. When I first moved to Canada is was just a month before American Thanksgiving. I was a little heart broken that for the first time ever I wasn't going to be at home with my family. See, I believe in big Thanksgivings. Somewhere along the line something happened and a few years passed with just my family, the four of us, having Thanksgiving. I remember telling my mom that while her cooking was delicious, our Thanksgiving table needed some help in the social department. We had always had my grandparents or cousins and if we couldn't have them, could we at least invite another family over? And so our table expanded and we started giving thanks with wonderful family friends every year. 

In an effort to make Canada feel a bit more like home, I decided to have all of our friends over for a good ole American Thanksgiving that first year. My plan was to replicate my mom's traditional Thanksgiving feast and show these Canadians exactly how we do it in the South. I was hell bent on them discovering the glory of sweet potato casserole and pecan pie. 

So I began planning and sent out invites. We have some pretty great friends and they all graciously said yes. Yes, we'll be there. Yes, we'll risk our lives and try sweet potato casserole. Yes, we'll support you crazy Southerners and drink a sweet tea cocktail. Yes, we're coming - all 19 of us. 

This suddenly was a cause for concern because at that point I had never actually cooked a real meal in my life. Let alone a turkey. Let alone for 19 of our closest friends.

Maybe this wasn't such a good idea.

But then the Facebook updates started popping up. There were all my American friends, announcing their plans for travel, turkey trot runs, football and shopping. I didn't have any of that on my agenda - but I did have a big feast planned, come hell or high water. I had to do it. I needed to be a part of it. It was going to be good and delicious and fun. It was going to be as good as Thanksgiving can be without your family.

I spent weeks frantically figuring out how on Earth I was going to seat 19 people around one table. I borrowed chairs and pulled a bunch from the basement.  I had to get creative making a table cloth long enough to cover three dinner tables pushed together. I put out mismatched wine glasses, I alternated normal dinner plates and China on the table. I made center pieces and even infused vodka with tea when I couldn't find sweet tea vodka on the shelves of the liquor store. TC's parents came over and cleaned the turkey for me. I vacuumed no less than ten times that week. I carefully printed out my mom's recipes. I made multiple casseroles the day before and delivered them all over town for my friends to pop in the oven right before they came over for the big night. I even sent along beach towels for them to lay the hot casserole dish in so it wouldn't burn their laps on their way over. 

And it was perfect. We ate and we drank and then we ate some more. We laughed and talked until all hours of the night. I didn't burn the turkey and Maple didn't die after she snuck off and ate the entire turkey carcass. 

The second time around, last year, we did it again and it was just as wonderful. All of our friends were here and they all completely embraced celebrating an American holiday with their crazy American friend. I even managed to prepare and cook the turkey all on my own - well, with only a few panicked phone calls to my mom.  Who knew that it was so difficult to differentiate between the top and bottom of a turkey?

My Thanksgiving table is not like all the beautifully decorated tables you see on Pinterest and Pottery Barn. There are no cute banners, gorgeous centerpieces or adorable place cards. I don't have a dining room table, just several hand-me-down dinner tables. I certainly don't have 19 matching chairs. There is always an array of oak chairs, borrowed white chairs, a few painted black chairs, a red chair, a blue and a really random green chair that I picked up at an auction for seven dollars. 

I painted the red, blue and green chair today for no other reason than I wanted to. I wanted to get a little deeper into the Thanksgiving spirit. Not because I thought it needed to be done in order for Thanksgiving to happen. I love that my first two Thanksgiving tables were made up of an array of colors because that is what we had and it wasn't what really mattered. Last year I made some progress and cooked the turkey alone. This year, I'm making a little more progress and will have black chairs. They're not elegant and they're not all that pretty, but it's still a small bit of change and evolution. 

Here's my point. I don't think I'll always have these same chairs around my Thanksgiving table. Maybe one day the black chairs will be left in the basement because fancy new dining room chairs have replaced them. But if that day never happens, than so be it. Because it doesn't really matter what the table looks like or whether or not I burn the turkey to a crisp. What I really care about is having our friends over for a good time and bringing a little bit of home here to Canada. 

Really, no one even notices the chair they sit in anyway.

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