As Thanksgiving approaches, I have realized that this year marks the fourth consecutive Thanksgiving I have spent away from my biological family and in the company of various assortments of friend families in California. Four years is a long time.
I’ve always liked Thanksgiving. My contribution to it as a child was pinecone turkey decorations for the table. Each year I’d make a new version of the pinecone turkey to add to the collection — one year I even made a bunch of tiny turkeys to use as place setting namecard holders! So crafty!!
But now that I’m all grown up, my contribution to the celebration is food. A common thread throughout my adult Thanksgivings are good friends and two traditional Cavanaugh-family casseroles: corn casserole and sweet potato casserole. I have made both of these dishes for my Californian friends these past three years at our various Thanksgiving gatherings, which I will now commence reminiscing about:
Thanksgiving 2006 included cooking a 20-pound ham in a Stanford graduate housing studio apartment. Why we opted for ham instead of traditional turkey I do not recall, but it probably had something to do with a good deal. Also notable was transporting hot corn and sweet potato casseroles and a pecan pie for 40 miles in a Honda Civic.
Thanksgiving 2007 was the first of two years that involved three different Thanksgiving dinners. First, there was the MBCC worship team Thanksgiving dinner; I made a pecan pie for this gathering, but my old Wedgewood oven with no temperature regulation caused it to very severely burn. I was just learning to be a domestic goddess back then. Then there was the Rosers’ annual pre-Thanksgiving potluck, which was a great time with probably 40 friends and their representative dishes. And then there was real Thanksgiving — this one involved transporting hot sweet potato casserole on the 49! Adventure! But in all seriousness, I still get teared up when I think about this Thanksgiving. I was going through a rough time, and two near and dear friends opened up their doors and their family dinner to me, allowing me to enjoy a fantastic, thankful evening with them. When I think about times when I wouldn’t have made it without the support of good friends, this is the primary one that comes to mind. It meant and means so much to me, and I’m still grateful.
Thanksgiving 2008 spoiled me again with three dinners — MBCC worship dinner, Rosers’ annual pre-Thanksgiving potluck dinner, and real Thanksgiving at John’s mom’s. I wowed John’s family with the corn casserole, which they henceforth referred to as “Megan’s Corn Delight.” The day included the Thanksgiving meal at lunchtime, a walk around historic downtown Campbell, and then the family tradition of leftovers for dinner a few hours later. And, of course, board games and home movies!
The most notable difference about the upcoming Thanksgiving 2009 is that it will feature only one Thanksgiving dinner: real Thanksgiving. I know the meal at the cabin with John’s family will be great — his family is wonderful, and I am happy for any excuse to spend time with them. Beyond my casseroles, a new addition to the menu this year will be black bean pumpkin soup; only time will tell if it will become a tradition. Nonetheless, I must admit that I am a little sad not to be celebrating the meal with a big group of friends this year, and especially not with Eliz and Ryan — although I am sure they will have a wonderful, delicious first holiday in Portland.
There have been some ups and downs and a lot of changes since last Thanksgiving, but I know I have a huge amount to be thankful for this year, and always. No matter whom I celebrate the Thanksgiving meal with, I know I have a vast, amazing family of friends and loved ones that spans thousands of miles. And for that, I am truly thankful.