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The Welcome Table: Annual Thankfulness Virtual Meal

[Melissa clinks on her glass in order to get everyone’s attention and then begins to speak.]

Welcome back everyone.  I am so glad that you’re here at the fourth 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 while they secretly think about how Americans flood the Internet with Thanksgiving posts this week.]

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.  We are straight or gay, old or young, men or women.  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 say this every 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 mushroom stuffing.  I make it with a crusty French bread that I learned how to make when we were in our first round of treatments and Josh hinted that I needed to get a hobby to distract myself.  So I’m placing my dish of stuffing on the table.  Feel free to dive into the main dishes or nosh on the appetizers or skip all the healthy stuff and head straight for dessert.  There are no rules here. 

So what did you bring and what do you want to say to the community?

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 Marianne { 11.19.12 at 7:53 am }

No matter how many delicious homemade dishes I slave over everyone’s favorite always seems to be Pillsbury crescent rolls. I use my mom’s secret of running egg whites on them before baking.

I am also so thankful for this community. To have ‘strangers’ be so supportive of each other is such a blessing. You all are amazing.

2 serenity { 11.19.12 at 8:39 am }

I made homemade green bean casserole; panko crumbs instead of the fried onions, real sauteed mushrooms and onions, and a roux instead of canned glop you usually use.

This community has made me a better person. Because, really. It’s so easy to blog your viewpoint and get stuck there. The comments from the women in this community have helped me to see things through different perspectives. I am really thankful for it.

3 Valery Valentina { 11.19.12 at 9:13 am }

Of course I’ll bring http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poffertjes , the dutch traditional baby pancake puffs, with powdered sugar.
Why? because my diagnosis is POF, but life, 4 years after diagnosis, is finally sweet again.
Without this community I’m not sure I would have managed to stay with my partner, to get where we are now. Thank you, everyone who could express their anger when I couldn’t. Thank you, everyone who wrote about living without children. About deciding to use donor eggs. About surviving the pain. about grief, about patience.

4 Michele { 11.19.12 at 9:16 am }

I’m bringing stuffing made from white castle burgers. It’s a recipe that’s been around for years and am going to try to make for the first time this year using frozen white castle burgers.

I feel it’s appropriate to bring to this meal, to a community that has been around for a while, but to which I still feel new (even after 2 years).

5 Katie { 11.19.12 at 9:20 am }

As always, I am bringing my homemade apple pie (though sadly, I’m not making it for our family Thanksgiving this year… first time since I was in middle school).

I don’t think there is a way for me to express in words how thankful I am for this community. Just 5 months ago, I was at the end of my rope. We were ready to live child free. But this community lifted me up and kept me hopeful. I’m glad they did. If I hadn’t held onto that hope, I would not have my daughter.

And she is what I’m also grateful for this year. More than she will ever know. She’s taught me so much about life. She’s filled the hole in my heart that has been aching for far too long. Honestly? She’s taught me how to truly love again.

6 loribeth { 11.19.12 at 9:33 am }

I’ve brought perogies. 🙂 With lots of butter & sour cream. No festive family dinner would be complete without them (or cabbage rolls — we usually have the perogies with fish on Christmas Eve & the cabbage rolls with our turkey & mashed potatos & stuffing on Christmas Day)(yes, we love our carbs, lol). I am so thankful for this community and for all the wonderful friends I have found here over the past five years of blogging.

7 Lollipop Goldstein { 11.19.12 at 9:38 am }

This thread is making me so hungry.

8 Sarah { 11.19.12 at 9:41 am }

I am bringing broccoli cheese casserole. It is so warm and yummy, and just on this holiday we can forget about how bad it is for you.

I am so very grateful for this community. I stumbled onto it when I needed it most. Over the past 2 years, I have made some wonderful connections and received more support than I could have ever dreamed. I share my experiences with this community whenever I come across someone who is struggling to come out of the ALI closet in the real world. Without this community, I’m not sure I would have continued through my failures to get my success. And as we start on the TTC#2 train, I’m more than grateful to have the connections I have made to get me through the ups and downs of treatment with a child.

Thank you all.

9 Jen { 11.19.12 at 9:43 am }

[placing our family’s ‘stained glass window’ Christmas cookies on the table]
Please enjoy these – the secret is to cut the cookie dough, then cut a smaller hole of the same shape out of the middle, fill it with crushed boiled sweets and bake until the pieces melt leaving a coloured ‘glass’ crunchy centre.

I am so grateful that my second daughter is here and healthy. She’s nearly 18 months old now and I can look back on miscarriage and secondary infertility as though through a window… I remember how much it hurt but I don’t feel it as sharply any longer.

And I’m thankful that while I was on the other side, this community was there to support me and help me get to where I am today.

10 tigger62077 { 11.19.12 at 10:03 am }

I don’t get to make these this year because we are holding dinner at my in-laws, but I am bringing mini pumpkin pie cheesecake tarts. I will happily share the recipe with anyone who wants it – just email me at tigger62077 at gmail dot com.

This year I am again thankful for my son. He’s an easy child most of the time, but he’s now 19 months and becoming more independent. I’m thankful that he’s learning how to communicate even though he doesn’t talk, and that he’s patient (more or less) with his parent who don’t always understand him. I’m thankful I have a supportive spouse who is very involved with our son, who takes such an active role in his life. And I’m thankful that my FIL is still hanging on, so that we can have one last (most likely) Thanksgiving and (hopefully) Christmas with him while Cole is old enough to interact with him.

I’m thankful for the community that has been there for me time and again over the last 7 years while we struggled with getting pregnant, gave up and decided to live child free, and then got pregnant with Cole and are now learning how to be parents. Without your support (and yours, and yours), I might have literally gone insane. I read over the things I’ve written and there was so much anger and despair…and you saved me. Thank you.

11 a { 11.19.12 at 10:21 am }

I am attempting pumpkin pie this year, for the first time ever. I don’t like pumpkin pie, so I’m not sure how it’s supposed to taste, but the recipe seems easy enough.

I’m thankful for this community – it’s brought me lots of interesting friends and a variety of points of view. And not just about making babies – about all kinds of life experiences.

Now, I’ve gotta go find something to eat…

12 Cristy { 11.19.12 at 10:39 am }

I’m cheaping and bringing two dishes: one is braised kale with garlic and pepper flakes. The other is chocolate cream pie.

This past year had been one of the hardest of my life. There’s been so much pain and sorrow, grief and despair following our failed cycles and two miscarriages. Yet through all of that, this community has stood by my husband and I, supporting us during our darkest moments and giving us the courage to move forward in life. The courage to have hope. I shudder to think where I would be without all of you. Thank you for reaching out to us. For supporting us when others wouldn’t or couldn’t.

13 lifeintheshwa { 11.19.12 at 10:49 am }

I’ll bring straight up, cheesey gooey macaroni and cheese, and you’re all worth the time it’ll take to make the macaroni and all kinds of gooey cheese sauce, and the baked to the state of awesome. (and if you’re worried about the fat/calories drink a diet pop – the universe won’t know what to do with the huge disparity between high and low cal and they just end up cancelling each other out!)

The IF/RPL community has helped me to become more compassionate and understanding of others’ struggles and losses and to not feel alone in this awful, awful wilderness. Even as I think I’m about to have a 5th miscarriage I know there are lots of people out there who have walked harder roads, and it helps me to deal with my own pains and losses.

14 Blanche { 11.19.12 at 11:13 am }

I’ll add corn pudding made from my husbands family recipe. It’s super sweet – baked until almost caramelized.

I want to say thank you to Mel for creating this space & allowing this community to not only develop but flourish and thrive and be available to any who are in need of knowledge, support, a shoulder or even a good laugh.

15 KeAnne { 11.19.12 at 11:40 am }

I’m bringing green beans sauteed with bacon, shallots and balsamic vinegar.

I am so very thankful for this community and how I have been able to reconnect with it over the last year. I’ve met some wonderful people and don’t feel as lonely as before. You help me when I’m down. You provide parenting advice. You provide style advice. You empathize when needed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

16 Mina { 11.19.12 at 11:42 am }

I’ve entered my cake phase recently, I discovered tutorials for decorating cakes and so I am bringing a dark chocolate salt caramel cake.
I am very thankful I have found you, my virtual village where I am not alone and where there is always a good and wise word for anyone in need. Very, VERY thankful.
Here is to good food and great friends. Now. Hide the bubbly from the teary lady, or you’ll never hear the end of if. 🙂

17 Justine { 11.19.12 at 12:19 pm }

I’m going to bring apple pie, too. Because from my perspective, you can never have enough apple pie, and it’s all different.

I’m grateful for friends who still fold me into their arms even though I am in a different place; for people who continue to believe in me even when I have trouble believing in myself; for the women who inspire me with their strength every day.

18 sushigirl { 11.19.12 at 12:26 pm }

Pancakes – the thick, sweet kind.

I’m thankful for my son. After 4 years of trying, 6 embryo transfers, 10 embryos that didn’t take, getting my last tube out, and an ectopic and a miscarriage after IVFs #1 and #4, we got there in the end. The wee dude spent well over a year in the deep freeze – it staggers me to think if he was conceived like a normal baby he’d be a toddler by now – and seems to be making up for it by eating whenever he can. He’s particularly fond of pancakes.

And I’m also very thankful for this community which has been there for me through bad times and good.

19 April { 11.19.12 at 1:00 pm }

I’m bringing my Grandma’s noodles, the nice thick homemade kind (but don’t tell anyone that I actually buy the frozen ones and just cook them like she did).

I’m thankful for my family and my friends. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it through the last year. They are my rock.

20 EllaY { 11.19.12 at 1:55 pm }

I’m newish to this community, but I just love this idea.

I’m bringing gluten free egg free dairy free cornbread drizzled with honey and served warm.

I’m thankful for sites like this that help me keep hope alive (for a biological child or an adopted one or both!) even when I feel my most sad. The warmth of the cornbread symbolizes that warm feeling I get when I realize that I’m not alone.

21 Chickenpig { 11.19.12 at 3:08 pm }

I’m bringing marlborough pudding. It is a traditional dish that isn’t made anymore, which is too bad because it is delicious. (It is actually a pie, because it is baked in a crust, but like pumpkin pie it is actually a pudding…in a crust.) I will also share my baked potato pudding, which is also delicious. I will make two versions…one with bacon and one without, for our kosher/vegetarian friends 🙂

22 Stupid Stork { 11.19.12 at 3:23 pm }

“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”. Love this.

I will bring tamales – I’m Mexican and we do that on Christmas, but it is a guaranteed mouthgasm so I wouldn’t dare leave them out just because it’s early.

Thankful for all my sisters-in-shittiness in my online world, because there aren’t so many in the real life world. It’s been my safe haven.

23 It Is What It Is { 11.19.12 at 3:44 pm }

I am bringing a newly discovered recipe (and, hands down, THE best sweet potato dish I’ve ever made or had) complements of the Dean Brothers. Sweet Potato Souffle: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jamie-deen/sweet-potato-souffle-recipe/index.html.

First, Mel, I am thankful for you. It is sometimes impossible to believe that I feel such a connection to someone I’ve never spoken to, never mind met in person. Your willingness to hold this community together is beyond inspiring.

I am thankful beyond words for the on-line community, the kinship of which I have benefited immeasurably from. There is a basis of understanding that often times doesn’t exist in my real life, with friends or family, and a connectedness that pulls us together and holds us up.

I am thankful for the science that brought me my son. He made me a mother and I believe we will always share a special connection because of that.

I am thankful for the beautiful gift of donated embryos that allowed me to become pregnant again, at 46, with another boy. Wow, just wow.

Finally, I am thankful for those I’ve been able to really count on all these years for support and care. My husband tops the list, but there are many fellow bloggers (you, Serenity, Sprogblogger, Mo, two Katies, and dozens of others). Not only have we shared our individual journeys regarding infertility, but your counsel has gone far beyond that to support about how to approach my birth mother, how to manage the estrangement from my parents, and whether to bite the bullet and get an iPhone.

My gratitude runs deep and has profoundly affected who I am in a way that almost nothing, save the death of my brother, has.

24 Kimberly { 11.19.12 at 3:47 pm }

I’m bringing a favorite amongst my family and friends, my eggnog cupcakes – dark rum included for those that may need the extra booze to get through the holiday. (I’ll even add a couple of extra splashes for good measure!)

I’m thankful for the amazing friendships that I’ve found through this community. They helped me find my comfort zone again when I had to move my blogging home. These people keep me sane and I love them for that.

25 Amy { 11.19.12 at 4:53 pm }

I am bringing Italian Wedding Soup, complete with cubes of cheese that will melt in the bottom of your bowl and and croutons to float on top. We almost always have this at Thanksgiving in our family, and I’m always amazed at anyone who still has room for turkey and side dishes, because this soup is too good to only have a small portion!

I am of course extremely thankful to have welcomed our son to the world this year, and also eternally grateful for this community. You all have taught me to reach out for help when I need it, and I was able to do so and receive it when I needed it so desperately, and now that we’ve reached “the other side,” I’m beginning to feel comfortable reaching back when others need help, too.

(Yes, this thread is like Crying While Eating – http://cryingwhileeating.com/- so hungry and so emotional all at once!)

26 Mali { 11.19.12 at 5:21 pm }

Like last year I’ll bring a dessert. Last year was pavlova, but maybe this year I’ll bring a trifle – it’s a bit like a tiramisu. The important thing is lots of fresh fruit – strawberries and raspberries are coming into season here, and they will be piled high, and served with my home-made whipped cream.

I am once again though going to take your “crossing the river” analogy to task. I think those of us who have ended our IF journey without children have also crossed the river. But we’ve used a different crossing, and so come ashore somewhere different (but no better or worse) than those who have crossed into baby-land (or perhaps it’s “mother-land”). I am endlessly thankful now that I have realised that the pain of being on the other side of the river is finite, and that the pain of crossing the river ends too. And that over here, the colours are just as bright, and we get more sleep.

27 nerfmobile { 11.19.12 at 6:45 pm }

I’m bringing homemade cranberry sauce – nothing fancy, just water, cranberries, and sugar. Ever since I learned to make it at about age 11, this was my contribution to the family Thanksgiving table.

This year, I am thankful for the health of my daughter – conceived after a miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy, and 3 IVF cycles, we spent the year after her birth worried that her small size (8th percentile!) indicated some underlying problem. At 20 months now, she’s continuing to meet her developmental milestones, and she’s moved up to the 50th percentile for height (though still 8th for weight!) which greatly reduces the likelihood of any of those potential underlying problems.

I’m also thankful for the active community of bloggers and posters – I learn so much from others’ experiences, and it’s made me so much more confident as I moved through the challenges of infertility and parenting.

28 Jo { 11.19.12 at 7:28 pm }

I’ll bring the cheesecake — the $80 Red Velvet Cheesecake Factory cheesecake that I splurged on for the first time last year. It is decadent, and divine, and worth every penny. When eaten to savor, it can last for months. 🙂

I am grateful this year for the safe arrival of my newest niece, scheduled to arrive just in time for our family meal. I am thankful that moving home has allowed my sister and I to connect in a way that I wasn’t able to during her first pregnancy. I am thankful that I will no longer have to wait with anticipation for her to announce another baby on the way — this will be the last. Mostly, I am thankful for family — both the online and IRL variety. I am certain my life today would look very different if it wasn’t for all of your support, comments, and love.

29 TasIVFer { 11.19.12 at 7:33 pm }

Here are my mazariner, individual Swedish almond tarts. These were traditional with my family at Christmas, but I love them and sharing them so much they are often my contribution when I want to share something of myself with people.

Thank you all for just being there, for better or worse. Although dipping my feet back in that river, I feel guilty that I’ve made it to the other side once already. So many people helped me keep my head above the water at the very worse times, so I now feel guilty that what I now have I cannot give to everyone.

30 Geochick { 11.19.12 at 11:56 pm }

I’m bringing my mom’s apple crisp, baked in the same mustard yellow corningware dish she’s used for 20+ years. It’s all yummy and bubbly and crispy and buttery that I’m drooling for it right now. Many a year I wondered why I couldn’t just eat that for my meal and skip the turkey.

I’m thankful for this community as I’ve learned so much and it’s opened my eyes to a myriad of life paths. Now that we’re on a “non-traditional” family building path, I’m thankful for the pioneers before me whose wisdom I can soak in.

31 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 11.20.12 at 1:09 am }

I will bring deviled eggs. It’s DH’s late grandmother’s recipe, and they always get devoured quickly (even though I make 48!).

Because, you know, eggs. Devilish eggs.

32 Tiara { 11.20.12 at 5:25 am }

I’m sorry because I know you’re vegetarian, Mel but I need to bring turkey. Not only because its one of the things I cook well but also because this meal seems a bit light on the meat side & thanksgiving just isn’t thanksgiving to me with out turkey!

I am so very thankful to belong to this amazing online community. It has changed me & made me (& continues to make me) a better person.

33 Thebluestbutterfly { 11.20.12 at 6:01 am }

Recipes? 🙂

34 KnottedFingers { 11.20.12 at 1:12 pm }

I’m bringing corn casserole to the dinner table.

I’m very thankful to my Baby Loss Moms who support me and never tell me I should be over my daughter’s death by now.

35 Jendeis { 11.20.12 at 1:38 pm }

I’m bringing my family’s traditional first course, Better than Crack Salad (spinach leaves with crumbled gorgonzola or goat cheese, dried cranberries, sugared walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette).

I thank G-D to all of you in this community for helping me get through our struggles. Even though I rarely post on my own blog, I still feel the need to stay connected to my dear friends in the ALI community.

36 Lori Lavender Luz { 11.20.12 at 3:09 pm }

For my fellow Vatas in the group, I’m bringing baked sweet potatoes topped with ghee and cinnamon. It’s a sweet, grounding food to compensate for our sometimes flighty nature.

To everyone I say, Thank you for traveling with me since we last sat down for Thanksgiving dinner together. I love the living tapestry that we have created, that we are.


37 Denver Laura { 11.20.12 at 3:10 pm }

In addition to the turkey that Tiara will be bringing, my in-laws also grill ham. The secret recipe? Well you take precooked ham slices from either a spiral ham or one of those sliced from the deli section and throw it on the grill until it gets hot, about 5-10 minutes.

From those I’ve met IRL to those many miles away, I am grateful for this community supporting me from TTC to adoption.

We could make a holiday cookbook out of the recipes from this comment section 🙂

38 Daryl { 11.20.12 at 6:40 pm }

I’m bringing sweet potato pie because…yum!

I’m thankful that we’re finally starting IVF after spending years in limbo land. And, of course, for all of you, who’ve helped me keep my sanity as we’ve trekked through the ups and downs of the last year. (I’m sure my husband thanks you, too, since he’s avoided living with a totally crazy person the last year.) Thank you.

39 talesofacautiousoptimist { 11.20.12 at 7:55 pm }

I am bringing yams with marshmallows. This has always been my favorite side dish at our Thanksgiving meal.

I am thankful for my husband for putting up with my hormonal mood swings, my loving puppy who cuddles up to me when I am having an especially hard moment, and all the lovely ladies of blogland who have taken me in with open arms and given me the support I was not able to receive from friends and family IFL (despite most of them meaning well). You understand me and what we are going through and that has been enough to keep me going. This Thanksgiving we are in the 2ww of IVF cycle # 2 (after IVF #1 and FET #1 both failed) and will be wishing for a miracle.

40 NotTheMama { 11.20.12 at 11:33 pm }

I’m bringing my kind-of-homemade pasta salad. Suddenly Salad box, cook as directed, and toss in feta cheese, sliced black olives, and sliced grape tomatoes. It’s easy, but looks like I spent a lot of time to prepare. And the brownies I have to take everywhere I go, which is a cheap mix with Hershey’s special dark baking chips mixed in.
Reading through all of these with tears in my eyes, just so thankful to finally have our babies at home! We are so fortunate to have a 5- and 3-year-old join our family, and begin to thrive… I usually prepare more than my share, but this year, I am cutting back… May sound silly, but I have always dreamed of watching the big parade on tv with my children!!

41 Mud Hut Mama { 11.21.12 at 1:23 am }

Ha ha – I’m late to the table, just like I was late in finding this community. I’ll bring the pumpkin bread – my favorite Thanksgiving dish. I wish I had found this community when we were trying to conceive and I felt so alone but I’m so thankful that I found it this year. Even though our fertility treatments were years ago, the emotions have stayed with me and, while I wish no one ever had to battle with infertility, it’s so nice to know I’m not alone. I’ve found so much comfort here and I’m thankful to all of you for that.

42 sar { 11.21.12 at 5:27 pm }

I’m bringing bourbon. We might be close to giving up, and it’s scary. And there’s a chance that things could just happen naturally. Either way- alcohol is necessary. I’m thankful for this community.

43 alloallo { 11.22.12 at 4:12 am }

I’m late to the party, as ever, and usually because I’m still cooking something fiddly. I’m bringing my favorite ever shaved brussels sprouts with shallots – so simple to make and so satisfying.

And I’m bring a huge amount of gratitude and love for you all, for this community which has held me up at some tough times and supported me as we’ve move forward with treatment with donor sperm and into our fledgeling twin pregnancy. 10w5d today and feeling as sick as ever, but soldiering on to make thanksgiving dinner with friends from Australia, England and France living in London because a day of gratitude is too wonderful not to celebrate IRL too.

44 JustHeather { 11.22.12 at 7:23 am }

*wiping happy tears from my eyes*

I*m bringing my mom’s Pesto torta (recipe shared on my blog one year ago, to date!!) It was always joked that she wasn’t invited to any of the parties or celebrations unless she brought this.

As so many others in this thread, I am infinitely thankful for crossing the river and having my little boy. I’m also continually thankful for this community who has helped me through some of the darkest times of my life and TTC journey. I’m not sure my hubby and I would be where we are today without you all. Thank you!

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