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Personal essays

Thankful - Essay from Newsletter 35

Thanksgiving 2020


I love Thanksgiving.

Although the meal isn’t challenging to prepare - I love opening our house up to family and friends.

For more than ten years, Kim and I hosted Thanksgiving for her family and mine. Her parents, my parents, our brothers and sisters, and often friends would join us. Maggie had a college friend who joined us for the four years of college and beyond.

Last year we had more than twenty people over and it was a blast.

A few years ago I started sous vide-ing the turkey which takes a lot of pressure off of being ready at a specific time. The stuffing and other sides (including the Chex Mix) are done days ahead. The only thing I need to worry about on the day are the mashed potatoes and the bread. Everything else just needs to be reheated.

Over the years I’ve relaxed a bit and let others bring sides and desserts. But to me, Thanksgiving is about a house filled with people you care about.

Whether said out loud or not - it’s a moment to look around the table and appreciate the people we’re thankful to have in our lives.

Family traditions

Kim and I used to split responsibilities along the cooking and hosting lines.

I would shop for the food, cook it, and get it on the table.

She would clean the house (way harder than shopping), greet the guests (way harder than cooking), and entertain people while I hid in the kitchen with one or two people who wandered in.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law would insist on cleaning up and after everyone would leave, we would watch the Turkey episode of WKRP - a tradition I follow to this day.

What a year

I just looked back at my calendar from last year and November was nuts.

I started the month in Brazil speaking and teaching a workshop at NSBrazil. For some reason my foot was acting up and it was difficult to walk - but I had a great time.

A week later I was in Turin for Swift Heroes again speaking and giving a workshop. We were in town the same time as a chocolate festival where we sampled everything and we ate at the original Eataly.

A few days later I was in Copenhagen for GOTO - more speaking and workshops and more exploring a city I’d never visited.

Home for Thanksgiving.

I still did the shopping and cooking and my friends Kevin and Lisa came over to help Maggie and me make the house presentable.

The house was filled with smells, and sound, and feelings.


The leftovers were hardly put away before I was on a flight to London. I taught a team in London and saw two amazing shows. I saw Ian McKellen’s one man show and Neil Gaimann’s Ocean at the end of the Lane.

I then flew to Mountain View to teach the rest of the team.

I ended that month of travel with a couple of days at Disney Land with my friend James and a weekend with my brother and his family.

It’s the last time I’ve seen so many of those people in person.

One month. Five countries. Three continents.

Not this year.

This year

I miss traveling and seeing friends.

I miss having people over for meals or to sit and have coffee or to watch a game.

I miss grocery shopping. I used to go three or four times a week. I’d notice when prices dropped on items and pick them up.

It sounds small but I really miss shopping. Yesterday I went shopping for this year’s thanksgiving dinner and saw pomegranates on sale. I miss things like that.

But as much as I miss all of that - we’re not doing it.

As full as last year’s table was - it was missing my daughter Elena, my wife Kim, and my dad.

Why risk next year’s table missing someone else because we gathered when we shouldn’t have.

This year’s table will just be me and Maggie.

Not as many smells.

Not as much noise.

Not filled.

But I will look across the table and appreciate the person I’m most thankful to have in my life.

Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 35. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe

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