Thanksgiving is not my holiday of choice, but my father loved this holiday. Loved it with a mysterious passion. Even once his emphysema deeply handicapped him, making long sitting sessions painful and dangerous, he still drove down from Toronto to New Jersey with a giant tank of oxygen in the trunk. During the large family gatherings at my in-laws, he would sit quietly in a corner, with a glass of wine, ready to engage anyone interested in a philosophical or political debate.
With so many people in such a small space, I dreaded those talks. Pulled in too many directions, he overwhelmed me with his desire to sit and chat quietly. I wish I’d taken more time to ignore the kids, the crowd and the mayhem and just sat with him a little longer talking about books, and the pope, and whatever esoteric topic interested him at the time.
My tears have been flowing these last few days. Wounds I thought were scabbed over are raw again. This first Thanksgiving without him here on earth will be hard.
Above all else, my dad loved food. Here are a few of our family favorites that he loved at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Carrot Souffle – Sweet and fluffy, this is was about the only way my dad enjoyed consuming vegetables. Even the pickiest child will have seconds of this bake ahead side.
Pommes Dauphines – This combination of mashed potatoes and puff pastry dough is a great dish to whip up with Thanksgiving leftovers. This year I’m planning on trying it with sweet potatoes as well as regular potatoes.
Turkey Croquettes – Another great leftover dish once you’re tired of Thanksgiving sandwiches. The recipe linked is for roasted chicken, but the principle is the same. Once you’re sick of your turkey leftovers, chop them all up and make as many of these croquettes as you can. They freeze beautifully and are the greatest alternative to frozen dinosaur nuggets.
Chocolate Pecan Pie – What could be better than combining the power of chocolate with the heaven of pecan pie? This individual puff pastry version would be a great teaser before the meal actually begins. Starting with dessert is something my dad could definitely have gotten behind.
May your thanksgiving travels be easy and swift and the conversation around your dinner tables be interesting and long.