In 1990, when we were living in Frankfurt, I received the phone call that changed our Thanksgiving celebration forever. The call was from my friend, Pat, who had just won a turkey, which was the prize for a 5K road race. What am I going to do with this turkey, she asked? It’s enormous!
We quickly decided that the only thing to do with an enormous turkey was to cook it and invite everyone we knew to a real American Thanksgiving. As we had the much larger apartment, we held the event at our place. I should add that Pat and I knew a heck of a lot of people.
That first Thanksgiving was a “succes fou”. The food may have been traditional but the guests definitely were not. Instead of the Norman Rockwell family pictured above, we had an exotic assortment of international mutts: homesick Americans, international Germans and lots of other nationalities drawn to Frankfurt during that ‘moment’ in the 1990s when the city was vying to become the financial capital of Europe and the American military had an enormous presence. The meal was big fun and completely chaotic. We had invited so many people that we ran out of everything, chairs, knives, plates but no one seemed to mind. That enormous turkey was the talk of the town.
The next year, we did it again. We invited more people. We gave people assignments and extended the menu. We developed traditions. Your father started reading Art Buchwald’s ‘Explaining Thanksgiving to the French’. For some reason that I can’t remember anymore, I started to wear an Austrian dirndl. Our Thanksgiving became like the baseball field in the movie ‘Field of Dreams’. We built it and they came. And then we moved to London – and still they came. And they keep coming. But of course, you know all of this. You were there.
This year, you will be holding your own Thanksgiving celebration in California. Of course, I will miss you, but that is not my point. I was going to write-up some recipes for you to use, but I realized - you don’t need them. You are sons of a grand Thanksgiving tradition. You already carry in your heads and your hearts everything you need to know about America’s best holiday. But I’m still your mother and I like to dispense advice so here it is. For the perfect Thanksgiving, what you need to do is:
Buy a big turkey. Invite everyone you know. Cook. Eat. Next year – repeat!