My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is stuffing.

Wait.  Revision, that sounds bad.  My favorite part, aside from all of those people you love gathered together in one place.  The people are totally my favorite part.  But the stuffing is probably next.























So last night twelve? fourteen? of us gathered in Durham for a Friendsgiving dinner.   Julia & Betty did the table setting, and it was gorgeous.  Julia’s parents got the fire pit going and cooked a turkey.  It is fabulous to have at least one set of somebody’s parents at Thankgiving; otherwise nobody ever knows how exactly you’re supposed to carve the main dish.  We had champagne and crab dip around the fire pit under the pecan trees while everyone drifted in from Raleigh and Durham and thereabouts.  Some came directly from other Thanksgiving dinners and had to feast twice; some came from late shifts at work; some, like me, spent a blissful day on the couch watching the Macy’s parade and just had to change out of pj’s and show up.

I did slightly better than that. I polished my grandmother’s necklace that I got last week and wore it to dinner.  I even did an updo.








The updo lasted through the champagne and fire time, but was apparently so spring-loaded it exploded before dinner and could not be wrangled back into place.  I am so not a grown-up.

Dinner was perfect.  There was, in fact, plenty of stuffing; it’s just that I’m grown-up enough not to have filled my plate entirely full of it, with a just a smidge of turkey on top like I wanted.  I was glad I didn’t go that route, because in addition to the turkey, everyone brought a family Thanksgiving dish they couldn’t celebrate without.  There was Watergate salad, the sweet potatoes with the pecans and brown sugar on top, and broccoli puff, and baked cranberries and apples, and root vegetables and macaroni and cheese and giblet gravy with the eggs in it and collards.

Lordy it was good.

I didn’t feel like following tradition this year, so I brought a recipe I’d photographed from a magazine at the salon for chocolate whiskey pecan pie.  I’ve had a fair amount of family….um, fun this past year, so it’s okay that this wasn’t a family Thanksgiving for me.  Of course I suddenly missed them, though.  It’s funny, now that I’ve just written a scathing novel about how crazy my southern family can be, I find that I like them all again.

Looking around the room last night, though, I saw the faces of most of my nearest and dearest non-relatives.  These friends have been co-workers, and grad school friends, and church friends, and friends-of-friends who are now dear friends, and friends who are now also neighbors, and boyfriends and husbands of friends who are now friends, and many combinations thereof.  These people are my tribe; it’s rare that we’d all end up in town together for a holiday with our families all being scattered, but it worked out perfectly, and I was supremely thankful for each and every face there in the candlelight.

I came home full, in all kinds of ways.  But tonight: I am having stuffing for dinner.

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