Friday, December 1, 2023


I grew up in an LA suburb. We never had snow for the holidays, maybe a little rain. We still gathered for holiday meals around a long maple table and at the children's tables nearby. My mom prepared the usual Thanksgiving meal: pickles, olives, turkey, mashed potatoes, overcooked vegetables, Waldorf salad, rolls with lots of butter, and pumpkin and mincemeat pies. At least that is what I remember.

Along with my sisters' children and our granddad, I sat at the children's table. Our granddad was never embarrassed to join us and made us laugh. My grandmother showed me how to set a table and told stories about her siblings back East. My parents didn't drink alcohol except at holiday meals. Sometimes they would have a glass of wine and let us have a spoonful and then laugh at our scrunched-up faces in response to the taste. Boyfriends and my sisters' husbands joined the table over the years, and then their children took over the children's table.

I continued the holiday traditions when I married and moved away. We had a smaller gathering, just my in-laws and sometimes a stray friend, and then our son Theo. I love to cook and used the Sunset Magazine's version of roasting a turkey -- upside down until it reached almost done. The white meat was juicy and tender because the juices followed gravity. I pulled it out of the oven, poured a mix of alcohol over the bird, and lit it aflame. I put it back in the oven for a short time until the top skin was brown and crispy.

Our holidays changed when we moved to Japan. Turkey was not a meat that was eaten there and to order one was extremely expensive. We joined with other ex-pat families either around their table or at Roy's Restaurant in Omotesando (the same restaurant found in Hawaii).

Our move to Paris changed our holidays again. The local butcher shops prepared turkey along with rich pate. Somehow, no matter which French person cooks the food, it tastes better than anything I can conjure up. I had to walk several blocks home lugging the turkey and pate on a platter. I was always grateful to make it home in one piece. We would invite an African friend to dinner to celebrate friendship in a different place than our American home.

Once we came back to the U.S., I returned to our holiday traditions until about 10 years ago. Theo graduated from college and he and his long-time girlfriend split their holiday times between two families. We meet a couple of times during the holiday season and recognize that the holiday day doesn't have to occur on the nationally designated day. What is important is getting together.

This year, once again, our holiday is different. We have moved and had lunch at Farley's, the pub at Cavallo Point, a hotel that is situated at the old Ft. Baker site on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge from the City. The hotel has a beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay. We have never been there when it is foggy. The lawn in front of the hotel allows us to walk before dinner. We can sit in the rocking chairs that line the porch. We had a quiet early dinner, a green salad with chicken added and Parker House rolls served hot in a small cast iron skillet. We had a wonderful day by ourselves and texted messages to family and friends.

What I've learned from our many changes is to enjoy the tradition as well as the change. There is happiness to be found in both.


A friend recently lost one of her sons to suicide. Her blog posting here includes her husband's response to the tragedy. It's a beautiful thoughtful response to a tragedy: 


  1. Thank you for your memories of Thanksgivings past. Seems we had similar traditions. I loved the idea of this years, sounds delightful.
    Happy December

    1. Thank you, Christine, for your comments. Traditions bring us together, don't they? even when we are not at the same table.

  2. Ah, those overcooked vegetables! Thanks for the memories, and for the serene images of autumn leaves. I especially love the last one, nature's own stenciling!

  3. Thank you, Teresa. Those overcooked vegetables are remembered by so many! The ghost leaves on pavement are one of my favorite images.


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