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The Welcome Table: Annual Thankfulness Virtual Meal

[Melissa clinks her glass to get everyone’s attention.  Clears throat.  Begins]

Welcome back everyone, I am so glad that you’re here at the third annual virtual ALI Thanksgiving meal – an online meal that is a yearly tradition before we scatter to our respective actual Thanksgiving tables.  Is it held during American Thanksgiving week instead of Canadian or another country’s thankfulness celebration?  Yes, and I apologize for that, but at least I didn’t hold it on American Thanksgiving so hopefully everyone will feel comfortable participating regardless of where you live.

[Polite laughter from the non-American contingency.]

The Thanksgiving myth is that people who had nothing more in common than simple humanness stopped looking at each other’s differences on this day in history and sat down at the table together for a meal.  It’s a meal about survival; about going into the winter knowing the odds are stacked against you and still pausing for a moment to think about the here and now.

And truly, what better myth to describe our own virtual Thanksgiving table, where donor gamete bloggers are sitting next to those living child-free after infertility, and the adoption bloggers are seated next to those starting their first IUI.  We have nothing more in common than our humanness and a desire to build our families.  Some have crossed the river and are standing on the opposite bank with the families they struggled to build.  Others are still wading in the water.  And some are left on the original bank, not able yet to move ahead or deciding to stay out of the water.  And yet, we place aside our differences – wait, not place aside: we learn from our differences, we utilize our differences – to create community.  We all have the means to support one another.  It is as simple as a word, a kind gesture.

I would like to start off the festivities by making a toast: to thankfulness.

I said this last year, and I’ll say it again: I will always be incredibly grateful to this online community, a community that has grown to more than 3000 people currently, not to mention those who have slipped away from our community over the years.  It is difficult to put into words how it feels to know that there are people around the world connected to you emotionally.  You are tied to their story and they are tied to yours and together, those threads intertwine to make a web strong enough to hold all of us who walk over it.  It’s not a spider web meant to ensnare; it’s more the netting below the trapeze, there to catch you and cushion your landing in case you fall.

I asked all of you to bring a dish to this multi-culti potluck meal – there is no need to stick to traditional Thanksgiving fare when you have such a diverse table spanning the entire globe.  Please share with everyone at the table what you brought and why.

This year, I brought a pie — an apple pie to be exact — going with the tangible form of “American as apple pie” vs. my usual vegetarian matzo ball soup.  I’m not a fan of eating pie, though I like to make them because Josh enjoys pie and I like to make him happy.  Plus, for me, a big part of pie baking is the smell.  I love the way the kitchen smells right when the pie comes out of the oven.  So I’m placing my apple pie on the dessert table to be consumed at the end of the meal.  Or feel free to skip all the healthy stuff and jump right to the cakes and cookies.  There are no rules here.  What did you bring?

And please, start eating as everyone is introducing their dish.  We don’t want the food to get cold and there are so many of us at this table.  Thank you so much for coming, and I’m going to carry the warmth of this meal with me for the rest of this week.  In fact, I just might print out this post and the comments below and carry it with me in my pocket to my actual Thanksgiving meal to have all of you there and feel free to do the same if you need the fortification or simply want the company of a few thousand bloggers at your table.


1 JustHeather { 11.22.11 at 8:14 am }

I’ll toast to thankfulness! I’m definitely thankful to my husband for all of the craziness he puts up in me. I know I’m not the best or perfect wife and how he does get upset with me at times, but we are still a pretty good couple, especially when he is making me laugh or just holding me when it is needed.

I also don’t want to forget my gratitude and more than thankful thoughts and feelings for this ALI community. I (re)turned to blogging just over a year ago when I was having a particularly difficutlt time with TTC and about 6 months later someone shared one of your links with a group of us and I found you all. Ths support, kind words and a place to belong when it feels like no one else understands has been a saving grace in so many ways!

I’ll bring my mom’s Pesto Torte with some water crackers to spread it on. This red, white and green dish is festive in its coloring, very easy to make and always asked for whenever my mom was invited to a potluck. In fact, it was jokingly said at times that my mom wasn’t invited unless she brought this (or her osyter stuffing balls). Just thinking about this recipe makes my heart ache for my mom and my mouth water in anticipation of this appetizer.

2 Delenn { 11.22.11 at 8:15 am }

This year I have started thinking of previous years and how much I miss certain people more and more. So, this year I think I will bring my Grammie’s celery sticks. Filled with a creamed cheese filling that included nutmeats and bacon. I have no idea how she made the filling, even though I remember being there with her often enough. It was sure yummy, though. And it was the only way I ever ate celery!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

3 jes galison { 11.22.11 at 8:31 am }

i will bring quadruple chocolate brownies! i make them every year and everyone loves them. it makes me so happy to see people enjoy the food i have cooked and those brownies are amazing! no one can pass them up!
happy thanksgiving mel!

4 loribeth { 11.22.11 at 8:42 am }

I will bring perogies with plenty of melted butter & sour cream. : ) I would rather eat perogies with my turkey than mashed potatoes. I figure I can have mashed potatoes any old time (& I put gravy on my turkey & stuffing), but I only get perogies (or at least, the really GOOD perogies ; ) ) when I go home to visit my parents. They have a lady who has been making them for them for almost 30 years. She’s well into her 80s now & who knows how much longer she will be able to do it for them?

So I am thankful for Mrs. G. & her fabulous perogies & holubtsi (cabbage rolls). ; ) I am thankful for my wonderful family, and for having so much when so many people are going through hard times. And I am thankful for all of you & the friendships I have made here. Cheers!

5 April { 11.22.11 at 8:49 am }

I’ll toast to thankfullness and to the hope of the coming new year. This hasn’t been an easy year for me since it’s been a year of a forced break. We’re planning on getting back on the TTC wagon in February, but that brings it’s own worries and fears. For today, I’m thankful for friends here in the ALI community.

I’m bringing my Grandma’s noodles. She always made the noodles from scratch and brought them to every holiday meal. She’ll have been gone 12 years this coming April and each holiday dinner, someone brings noodles. They aren’t the same since we don’t make the noodles from scratch, but the love is still there. I also have a bottle of wine to share.

Happy Thanksgiving!

6 sarah { 11.22.11 at 9:40 am }

I’m thankful for the i/f community for supporting and educating me during a challenging year. I appreciate your strength and wisdom and kindness. I’m bringing pimiento cheese because it comes from the south, includes cheese, and pairs well with beer, wine, or a cocktail.

7 Bree { 11.22.11 at 9:59 am }

Apple pie from me too. I used to love my grandma’s so much I would shout, “Apple pie in tin foil!” to express great joy, like when my dad was pushing me on the swings.

I give thanks for those who still support and care, no matter if I’ve gone months or weeks without posting. I give thanks that my family table is now full to my chosen ‘capacity,’ and I give thanks for ART and s.perm donation. My family would not-could not- have been built 40 years ago, when my mom’s four-year IF battle commenced.

8 JDragonfly { 11.22.11 at 10:36 am }

Happy Thanksgiving – American and otherwise – to all! I’m bringing my savory stuffed pumpkin (see below). The reason I chose this recipe is that it is literally the *only* thing I can make IRL. I’m a terrible cook – but this always turns out! Enjoy!


9 Gee { 11.22.11 at 11:02 am }

I’m thankful that this year was relatively uneventful, and everyone I know stayed happy and healthy. To thankfulness!

I’ll bring leftover turkey, since I had my traditional pre-Thanksgiving panic during the weekend and roasted a whole turkey just to assure myself that I could. Turkey was good, but now I have a fridge full of it, two days before Thanksgiving. Um…

10 The Cornfed Feminist { 11.22.11 at 11:14 am }

I’m thankful for weather that doesn’t make me afraid to drive during the holidays. It should be in the 50s on Thanksgiving in Iowa and I’m so glad. I’m also thankful for my husband and my blog readers, who are total champs at putting up with my craziness right now.

I’m bringing green bean casserole (recipe on the french fried onion cans) since it’s the only thing I make. I’m so hungry now!

11 Cristy { 11.22.11 at 12:00 pm }

I’m thankful for finding the ALI community this year. Prior to all of you, we were alone in our journey. Because of all of your stories and support, I’ve found the strength to pursue treatment, despite repeated disappointments and the courage to share my story. Through these actions, I’ve been able to connect with other IFers IRL.

I’m bringing my grandfather’s homemade breadsticks. It was his traditional contribution to the meal and it’s something I will miss, as he passed away earlier this year.

12 Eggs In A Row { 11.22.11 at 12:15 pm }

I wrote about this this morning, but not as eloquent as you…

I’m bringing challah (Jewish egg bread) because it is something we always had at Thanksgiving and I didn’t know until much later that it wasn’t a staple at everyone’s meal. Also, it’s the fanciest thing I know how to make.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

13 Amy { 11.22.11 at 1:31 pm }

I’ll bring my family’s traditional Jello ring…we of Norweigan descent can’t help but make a Jello ring. This one is super festive and delicious, made with raspberry Jello, applesauce and frozen raspberries in a fluted mold, with a sweetened, vanilla-ed sour cream sauce on the side. (I am actually making this for each of my husband’s and my Thanksgiving meals, one with my family, one with his.)

As for thankfullness, well, I’m trying really hard to be thankful. I’m truly grateful for all of you, my extended IF/babyloss mama community. Without you, I’d feel so alone. Our IF journey is now 4 years long and contains the horrific late miscarriage of our twins in August. Joy is hard to come by right now. I keep repeating to myself, “My babies are my joy. My babies are my joy.” I hope it works.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

14 pork chop { 11.22.11 at 1:45 pm }

I would bring Taiwanese sticky rice. Though it’s not a holiday dish, really, some families (who have immigrated to the US) use this to stuff their turkeys. I’m always a little bit afraid of the whole food poisoning thing, so I just make it as a side. In lieu of any meat, I used baked tofu. Here’s a recipe that approximates how I make it (I make it on the stove though, a la risotto).

15 Chickenpig { 11.22.11 at 2:10 pm }

I’m so thankful for the wonderful bloggers in this community that have kept me distracted while in the 2ww, supportive when I got a BFN, and who shared the toughest parts of their lives with me. Yourself included. 🙂

I am also thankful that I have to cook NOTHING this year IRL. Don’t hate me though, I’ve had to cook a meal that would serve 16 minimum over an open fire, while people watched. This year I bring you mashed potato pudding. It is a hearty 18th century dish of baked mash potatoes, with cheese, heavy cream, and eggs. (the bottom of the pan is also greased with rendered salt pork or bacon, and the crispy bits are thrown in as well, but I won’t put that part in). I hope that you eat eggs and cheese, because this dish is delicious. 🙂

16 Kimberly { 11.22.11 at 2:19 pm }

Happy Thanksgiving to my wonderful American friends. And a Happy Belated Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadian bloggers. Cheers and best wishes for everyone!

This year, I’ve decided to bring my famous Eggnog Cupcakes. (but its only for the big kids. I’ll make a non-alcoholic batch for the kiddies out there). I picked my Eggnog cupcakes because its one of my favorite things to make over the holidays. When I want to show my love and appreciation for someone(s), I bake. I bake for others but the act of baking calms and soothes my overactive mind. It’s a gift both for me and for others and I make this to show you my appreciation for all your kind words. All your words (as a community) work on and affect my overactive mind the same way that baking does, it helps me find peace and calmness. So thank you.

17 Tigger { 11.22.11 at 2:40 pm }

I am so thankful that this year, my son is on the outside of me and gets to actively participate in the Thanksgiving meal (albeit a day late). We thought this would never happen, and then it did, and every day brings something new. We are actually contemplating putting a bit of the dinner into a blender, turn it into a puree, and attempting to feed it to him!
I am also thankful for the new bloggy friends I’ve made in the last year. Several of them have children that are close to my sons age, so I get to see them grow compared to him and see what challenges await me.

I am bringing pumpkin cheesecake tarts. I made them for the first time last year and they turned out really good, so I’m going to try them again this year. If you want the recipe, let me know!

18 Lut C. { 11.22.11 at 2:41 pm }

Mashed potatoes!
A fine meal still needs something as basic as mashed potatoes – homemade of course with some nutmeg and buttermilk.

19 KH99 { 11.22.11 at 2:53 pm }

Happy Thanksgiving! While 2011 has been pretty horrible for us in terms of family health, there were a few bright spots this year: graduating w/ my MSLS in August after 5 years and re-connecting with this community and blogging more. I’ve missed you all.

I would bring coconut shrimp. It’s not something I make for Thanksgiving, but it is an appetizer I make for Christmas and is eagerly anticipated. I would totally bread shrimp in beer & coconut and deal with hot oil for the hours it takes to prep them for you guys!

20 Mina { 11.22.11 at 3:10 pm }

Happy Thanksgiving!
Of all the American traditions, I am sorry that this one was not adopted on a larger scale. Thanks are always too few in the the world, I think.
I am thankful for my husband, who is the sweetest and kindest soul I know, and thankful for my little boy, who is growing up too fast.
And I raise my glass to you, my friends, I am very happy to know you and have you in my life. Even if you don’t know me, or you don’t comment, or you don’t care who I am, I do. Even if I don’t know you all, or I don’t comment on your blogs, I have learned so much from you all, that I can’t but say Thank YOU, from the bottom of my heart.

I am bringing some eggplant salad – you grill the eggplants until the skin is black, peel it off (should come off easy), let them drain and them chop them with a wooden knife (Like a wooden santoku) to give them a chuncky-smooth texture, mix in some sunflower oil (the olive one is a bit too strong and takes away the flavour) and salt and finely chopped onions. I like it with a bit of feta cheese and tomatoes. It’s a great appetizer and grilled eggplants are just so sweet and full of late summer ripeness. I always grill a huge batch and put some ziploc bags in the freezer to have some during the wintertime. I hope you like it.

21 Katie R { 11.22.11 at 3:14 pm }

I too am thankful the IF blogging community and the joy you bring to my life during a dark season.
I’m bringing stuffing, full of crunchy celery, fluffy bread and tons of onions, sage, and spices. There is nothing better than curling up on the couch the day after Thanksgiving with a bowl of leftover stuffing and knowing you have more than enough food it the fridge to not cook for a week.

22 Michele { 11.22.11 at 7:39 pm }

This is quite a feast! A little for every appetite….which is so much of what I’m thankful for in this ALI community that Mel has fostered. Some days I need to read uplifting posts; on others, I’m glad to find posts that make me remember that I’m not alone in feeling down or frustrated. And, of course, the laughs! Who knew there was so much great humor in this group?

Count me in for butternut squash mac and cheese — not as bad for you as the traditional dish, but not as good for you as you’d hope. 😉 And I’ll be glad to get the party started with some mimosas!

23 Katie { 11.22.11 at 7:51 pm }

Apple pie… I always make it from scratch. 🙂 I have a lot to be thankful for this year. This community and what it’s brought into my life. My husband. My amazing new RE for “fixing” me. And that after 3.5 years of suffering, we have an active adoption profile. We have baby stuff in our home. It’s weird to be this close. I couldn’t be happier. (Well… I’ll be happier when we’re matched, of course!)

24 Her Royal Fabulousness { 11.22.11 at 7:51 pm }

I’m thankful for blogging. It has renewed my optimism and given me a lot of purpose.

I’m hosting, so I am all about the bird, baby.

25 Sarah { 11.22.11 at 8:58 pm }

This year I will bring the corn pudding, because it is what I always make, and this year I want to remember things exactly as they always are. I hope they stay this way for a very long time.

26 dspence { 11.22.11 at 9:00 pm }

To thankfulness. To God’s written word and that is is still alive and speaking to us today. To His guidance and grace. To His awesome provision and blessings, even in the midst of turmoil.

I bring my grandmother’s cranberry reslish: a cold, sweet, and crunchy compliment to the hot and savory found around the table. Better still, you make it the night before!

1 pkg cherry jello, made with half the water
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 orange, with rind still attached, cubed
2-3 ribs of celery, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2-1 cup of pecan chips

Prepare the cherry jello with half of the recommended water and place in the fridge to set partially. Process remaining ingredients in batches until the consistency of loose, fine gravel. Stir in the partially set jello and taste, adding sugar or splenda until reaching the desired sweetness. Allow to set overnight.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

27 Lisa { 11.22.11 at 10:16 pm }

Happy thanksgiving! I too am thankful for the ALI community.

I will bring my hubby’s mac and cheese. There is no recipe and I’m pretty sure he makes it differently every year, but I absolutely love the fact that he’s added his own dish to our litany of family recipes.

28 Mali { 11.22.11 at 11:26 pm }

This is a lovely idea, all of us together, no matter where we are in the community. I do however have a little problem with your crossing the river analogy – because I certainly don’t feel left behind on the river bank. I just prefer to see it that some of us took different roads, and others are still discovering which road they will take in the end. I blogged about it here in September. http://nokiddinginnz.blogspot.com/2011/09/feeling-left-behind.html And your post has reminded me that I don’t feel left behind. Not anymore. And for that, I’m very thankful.

I’d bring pavlova, a kiwi (the Australians will probably disagree, but they’re wrong!) dessert – a large meringue base, piled high with whipped cream and fresh fruit – strawberries and raspberries would be my favourite, drizzled with passionfruit. That’s what we would eat this time of year down here.

29 missohkay { 11.23.11 at 7:57 am }

Beautiful post (and happy ICLW!). I’m bringing the tofurkey, which incidentally I’m baking (?) for the first time tomorrow. Hooray!

30 Erica { 11.23.11 at 1:53 pm }

I’ll bring cranberry sauce, made from scratch, with ginger and orange zest, because I love (and need) the tartness to balance out all the other Thanksgiving food richness. Also, I’ll bring some cranberry juice and vodka. What? It’s a celebration!

I’m thankful for family, especially my husband who puts up with a lot. I’m desperately thankful for my living (and how!) daughter. I’m thankful to everyone who has supported and is still supporting me after the loss of her big brother.


31 Cherish { 11.25.11 at 1:42 pm }

I’m grateful for family and friends who support me, and for all the things that have helped me grow this year. I’m bringing raspberry cream pie, which was an unexpected hit yesterday. It symbolizes how life’s plans don’t always turn out as expected, but they can still be good.

32 nh { 11.25.11 at 3:09 pm }

I’m thankful for so much this year – the year that our lives changed and we adopted boy-o. Our lives have changed beyond measure. I’m thankful for the people who’ve trod that journey with me, both IRL and online.

As to what I am bringing, Sticky Toffee Pudding, because we need some gooiness in this life.

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