Simple Lemon-Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast / Sarah Crowder / Katie Workman /

Here’s what’s happening in our world.  My dad’s been sick, and it’s cancer, and treatment is starting soon, and he’s amazing and we’re highly optimistic.  Which doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been a crazy couple of months of crap, compounded by the storm, compounded by regular life.  But it’s okay, it will be okay, and in our area there are a ton of people hurting and needing, and everything is relative, so that’s that.

So yesterday my mom and my sister and I had to decide if we were going to host Thanksgiving at my parents’ house, as we do every year, with lots of friends and relatives, and lots of of food, and lots of attention to detail, which gives everyone a great deal of pleasure, most especially my dad.

Logistics, plus unknown everything for the moment, plus time pressure, plus out of town guests wondering what to do, plus….plus.

In the end, screw it, yes, we will do Thanksgiving, and it will be 32 people.  But while it will be great and abundant and gratitude-inspiring, it will not be the usual Thanksgiving.  Pared down, potluck, heartfelt, and upbeat.

Which feels right this year given all of the surrounding circumstances.  But no “pre-lunch,” no “next morning brunch” (unless it works).  And so here’s the letter my sister sent out on behalf of all of us.  We’re cooking a bunch of stuff (turkey, pies, et al), but we’re calling everyone into duty.  And we absolved my mom from organizing this meal, or she relinquished it; either way, it’s a first.  In case you can’t tell we have a lot of vegetarians in the family.  Here’s the email:

“We are thrilled we will be seeing you at Thanksgiving next week.  Please feel free to come over around 2 pm to hang out and then we will have an early evening Thanksgiving feast.  This year we are embracing the communal spirit of Thanksgiving and asking that everyone contribute a dish.  Please see below for a list of what we would like to ask of you.  If you feel passionate about a dish assigned to someone else, please feel free to reach out to each other and make swaps (all emails are attached here).  There will be 32 people in attendance so please make enough to go around!

Claud and family—stuffing (if possible, non-vegetarian and vegetarian options)
Rachael/Mars- string bean dish (strictly vegetarian)  *if you are greatly inspired to make another vegetable dish other than this, we are open to suggestions!
Ivan, David, Peter- big lettuce salad (strictly vegetarian)
Betsy- breads (for dinner), crackers and cheeses (enough for all to eat as hors d’oeuvres)
Cindy- chocolate dessert (nut free)
Elisabeth- Brussels sprouts dish (strictly vegetarian) *if you are greatly inspired to make another vegetable dish other than this, we are open to suggestions!
Tomas- couple bottles of wine
Jeff, Silvina – sweet potatoes (maybe cut and not mashed as we will also have mashed white potatoes)

Sandy & Arnie- In the possibility that you are coming (?) to join us and if so, you will have traveled the farthest…you get a pass on bringing food!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Lizzie or Katie anytime.

Thanks all!”

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes / Sarah Crowder / Katie Workman /

Pulling no punches this year, I tell you.


  1. Katie~ I am so sorry to hear about your dad. I can imagine how hard that must be. I applaud you and your sister and love what you did… it truly is about spending time around the family table with those you love…. low stress is good! Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. When I was in my 20s, living in Chicago, and pre-babies, we use to attend a big Thanksgiving potluck hosted by my sister. It was for everyone who wasn’t or couldn’t go home for the holiday. My now brother-in-law was in culinary school and always made a big turkey and the guests each brought a dish. Those were some of the best Thanksgiving dinners I ever had. They were big and loud and simple! After dinner we’d play games, drink (more) wine and enjoy each others company. After a couple of years my parents started coming to Chicago to be part of our celebration because we always had so much fun.

    I live in Wisconsin now with my own family. I insist on making Thanksgiving dinner every year. I still enjoy the holiday, it may be my favorite, but I miss those raucous years when all I had to do was show up with a side dish and I’d have so much fun my sides hurt from laughing the next day. You’ll love the pot-luck format, I highly recommend it!

  3. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving & think you were really (really) smart to make assignments of dishes, to minimize too much back & forth discussion

  4. Love making the stuffing – which, by the way, has been vegetarian for some years. Sourcing the 5-7 lbs of chestnuts is another matter. I planted a few trees, but it takes a couple of years before they bear. So, in the meantime, it’s supermarket surfing, usually challenging here in Southern Maryland. Footnote for Mom 100 real moms: Do not do chestnut stuffing unless you have full time baby sitter, tough fingertips, and lots of time. Or unless you buy the pre-packaged version of chestnuts. Anyway , for me, the chestnuts are the love in the stuffing. Loving our family, our tradition of yummy eating, and “We gather together” sung off key.

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