My family has our Thanksgiving system down to a T. Or, I should say, down to the manila folder in which we keep a decade’s worth of menus marked up with quantities and guest lists, keeping tabs on the first dish to go (mac and cheese) and the biggest hits (Dad’s chicken-and-waffles appetizer, Mom’s perfect squash soup). Every year I perform a sleight of hand, making sure we end up with an extra tray of cornbread dressing, my favorite, that I can eat for days afterward, sometimes straight from the fridge like a teenager, until it’s gone. My brother mixes cocktails, his girlfriend roasts the turkey, and a family friend always brings the most beautiful carved glass platter decorated artfully with half-moons of winter fruit.
Inevitably someone turns on a football game and someone else puts on a kettle for chai, and my grandmother promises that next year she’ll make pumpkin halwa, a pudding-like treat I love, one that would look right at home next to both silver-leaf kaju katli and a tall sweet potato cake. We never make pies because we know someone will bring an extra, and I think that about sums up what the holiday has always meant to me: good food. The love and support of our community. And familiarity too.
You know the drill from here: This year will be different. Like so many of you, I don’t know where I’ll be, or whom I’ll be with, or what I’ll be eating. I’ve found comfort in reading through this issue’s very 2020, new-to-everyone Thanksgiving menu plans (hello, tater tot casserole), learning new-to-me techniques from the recipes (hello, tiny pies), and remembering that I’m not alone, that I am not the only one trying my best to figure things out.
I don’t know how you plan to celebrate this month, if at all. But I hope you have plenty of good food and good people around you, two things we know can always help us through.
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