Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve - My New Tradition?

A welcoming fire burning in my fireplace; candles lit for a cozy glow

I never, ever travel for Thanksgiving. I prefer to stay home and celebrate with close friends, not fight traffic all the way to my aunt's house in Portland or get stuck in the snow on the way to see family in Eastern Washington.

This year, I spent Thanksgiving with my sister and our niece, who live just one freeway exit away from me. We keep our meal simple, and all I had to bring was mashed potatoes.

That meant I didn't have much to do the day before Thanksgiving, so I'd planned to have a very small dinner party with some friends. But one of life's little weather surprises changed my plans.

It snowed, unusually for Seattle. My friends were scared to drive in the ice with their newborn, so they canceled our dinner plans. The snow caused my elderly neighbors to hesitate venturing out to shop and go to the dentist. My Subaru does great in the snow, so I offered to drive them, pretending I needed to go to the grocery store. I did need a couple things, but it was mostly to make them not feel like they were inconveniencing me. We all bundled up and piled into my car to head out, checking with other neighbors to see if anybody else wanted to go or needed us to bring anything back.

My grandmother's china figurines and a house-shaped LED candle on my mantel

While Mr. B was getting his dental work done, Mrs. B. and I loaded up on groceries for the holiday at Trader Joe's, then Christmas shopped at Fred Meyer.

Back at home, we unloaded and decided to have a little block party. None of our friends or relatives could make it over to visit us. I'd already purchased food for my party, cleaned and decorated my house. So we dropped notes and made calls to invite the other neighbors in our cul-de-sac over to an impromptu party.

It took me less than an hour to set out veggies, open boxes of cookies to put out, and bake my Trader Joe's appetizers. I turned on the Christmas music cable channel, lit a fire, lit candles, and quickly sprayed some cinnamon-scented home spray around the house.

My dining table, set buffet style, with appetizers on one end, wine and glasses on the other

Some neighbors came with wine (a nice pinot noir) which we opened up and served around. We watched a rerun of the Oprah "Sound of Music" reunion show, then talked for a couple hours about our childhoods and our families.

Veggies, crackers and dip on offer

I had a delightful time and I think it brought all of us neighbors a lot closer together.

Cranberry jelly, chocolates and cookies laid out on my autumn tablecloth

We enjoyed ourselves so much, I think we'll have a Thanksgiving Eve party again next year, just for our little block.

Dinner rolls, nuts, olives, and some Trader Joe's appetizers

It will be someone else's turn to host, so I'll be sure to plan on a dish or two to bring along with my hostess gift.

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