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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 fifth 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 and it’s freakin’ annoying.]

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.  Some are left on the original bank, not able yet to move ahead or deciding to stay out of the water.  And some have walked away from the river and are at the ocean instead.  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’m bringing my cranberry-orange sauce, mostly because that is what I’m bringing to my physical Thanksgiving meal.  It’s tart.  It’s sweet.  It’s a little bit like life.  So I’m placing my bowl of cranberry sauce 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 A.M.S. { 11.26.13 at 8:47 am }

I’ll bring one of my fruitcakes. They are sweet and spicy and rich, loaded with nuts, currants, cherries, blueberries, apricots and candied ginger. Oh, and don’t forget the rum and brandy!

It’s got a little bit of everything in it, making it a truly all-inclusive dish. Every bite is a little bit different, but fundamentally the same.

It isn’t what you expect when you hear “fruitcake” but once you set aside your expectations, it’s so satisfying.

Our life here at the Good Mother household has been so sweet lately and we are working at adjusting our expectations as the reality of Moonpie as an only child sinks in (I just don’t think we are going to be able to do a gestational surrogate and the fee for frozen embryo storage is so high). And it is the ultimate in carb-y sweet comfort food as we head into a season filled with what-should-have-beens and remembrance.

So…fruitcake! A baked metaphor for life! ;D

To all of you, may the holiday season be exactly what you need it to be…a celebration, a break, a time for quiet reflection, or a time for healing. Much love!

2 Jo { 11.26.13 at 9:31 am }

I’ll bring the Cheesecake Factory Red Velvet Cheesecake. It’s an insanely rich indulgence (both in flavor AND in price), but it represents something I think we tend to forget to do often enough – do something for ourselves, for no other reason than it feels good.

This year I am thankful for those in this community who have stuck with me throughout this journey. My happy ending is still juuuuuust beyond my grasp, but its there. It’s been a longer, more winding road than I ever expected, and I couldn’t have done it without all of you.

3 Juanita { 11.26.13 at 10:13 am }

As we are entering into the long awaited glorious days of summer, I will be bringing a crispy green salad, the ingredients freshly harvested from our garden.
My journey is still an ongoing affair, so I will therefor be sad that another year has passed yet again, but thankful that we are a year closer to receiving our little bundle of joy.
May we all set our worries aside for a bit, laugh, love and enjoy the holiday season.

4 loribeth { 11.26.13 at 11:05 am }

Beautifully said, Mel, as always. <3 So thankful to all of the Internet friends who have propped me up over the past 6 years of blogging (& before that on message boards & e-mail groups).

I've brought some cabbage rolls… made by a lady who is well into her 80s but still does a big batch every year (also perogies) for my dad, because she likes him. 🙂 He makes a three-hour round trip to pick them up — and they are worth it!! 🙂

5 Tigger { 11.26.13 at 11:08 am }

I shall bring my mashed potatoes, because they are the one thing my mom taught me how to make that I make on a routine basis. Everyone loves them, and it has been requested that I bring them for our Friends Thanksgiving the Saturday after the actual Thanksgiving. They remind me of my mom, and this month is always a rough one since she died at the beginning of November five years ago.

I’m thankful for all of my friends, both online and not. Y’all are a safety net for me, a place I can run to and people I can talk to about everything. I’m not afraid to vent to you and say things that would get my child taken away “in real life”. You calm my fears, give me information, just listen. Thank you.

6 Lori Lavender Luz { 11.26.13 at 11:38 am }

So SO thankful for this community.

I’m bringing the green bean casserole. For the first time, my children are making it. Milestone! (Also, they don’t know it yet but they will be very involved in the post-meal cleanup).

Please pass the cranberry-orange sauce!

7 Katie { 11.26.13 at 12:34 pm }

I would like to bring pecan pie, made from a recipe passed down from my great gandparents with Bourbon as the secret ingredient to cut the sweetness. It doesn’t haven’t a great metaphorical meaning (unless you gag when life gets too sweet a la FB baby pics), but it’s an important representation of family and tradition which are both highly valued.

Although this year has been difficult and I am much looking forward to a brighter 2014, I am thankful for a lot. I am thankful for mine and my husband’s health; fertility issues aside, we’re both healthy and don’t have anything life threatening to worry about. I am thankful for both of our supportive families (at least a majority of them) and that, while money may seem tight when we’re considering uncovered fertility procedures, we’ve never had to made decisions of food over a warm house or [relatively] reliable transportation. I am also thankful for blogging as a wonderful outlet to express my emotions and experiences, and for this community to be a sounding board, providing both support and perspective.

Happy [US] Thanksgiving!

8 Rachel { 11.26.13 at 12:49 pm }

I will be bringing latkes…because, YUM!

I’m grateful in so many ways. Although I’m still on this IF journey 4 years later, and I no longer blog…I have made friends that are my support cycle after cycle. And for that, I’m blessed.

9 Pepper { 11.26.13 at 2:11 pm }

I’m bringing homemade apple pie, which is also what I am bringing to my physical dinner. It’s my best dish and I only share the best with my loved ones (at least food-wise) – it’s delicious and sweet without being heavy.

I am, as always, grateful for all of you. Though I don’t have a blog and don’t interact regularly with any of you, I always know that I am not alone on this journey and that makes it just a little easier to keep on going.

10 Turia { 11.26.13 at 2:20 pm }

I’m going to bring our mince pies, since our Thanksgiving is over, and our weather looks distinctively wintery and I’m starting to turn my thoughts to holiday baking. They are sweet but not cloying, and a reminder of how I’ve grown and changed and adapted over the years- I’d never eaten mince pies before meeting Q. and now I can’t imagine the holidays without them.

This year I am thankful first and foremost for E. Our journey towards a 2.0 has been much bumpier than I was expecting/hoping, and it is really bringing home just how much of a true miracle he is. I also remain eternally grateful for the dear friends I have made over the last six and a half years of blogging- their comments and well wishes and support and love have meant the world, and they always know just what to say (unlike the people in my real life). And, also as always, I remain very grateful for this community and for all that Mel does to bring us together.

11 Ann Z { 11.26.13 at 2:51 pm }

I will bring my bread, it’s warm and simple, and fresh-baked, and I love to share it. I’m also going to bring my apple butter, because I just learned to make it this year, and it adds a sweet richness to a slice of bread.

I am thankful for so much this year, but most especially for community. I feel a bit separated from the ALI world, now that we’re done with our family building. But I have not forgotten that our infertility journey is where I learned about how wonderful and essential community can be, and your blog, Mel, is where I found out how strong that community can be even if you’ve never met a single person in real life. For that, I am profoundly grateful.

12 loribeth { 11.26.13 at 3:55 pm }

P.S. This reminds me… our next communal gathering should be at the Lushary. 😉

13 Guera { 11.26.13 at 8:49 pm }

I am bringing a bottle of my favorite wine which helped me get through many holidays prior to our adoption. Now I can share that wine with others. While I am not in touch or as active as I once was in this online community it was crucial to my sanity and survival during one of the most trying, heart breaking, stressful and then joyful times of my life and I will forever be grateful. This community was my anchor.

14 Kimberly { 11.26.13 at 10:35 pm }

*takes a seat while gabbing away to some of my girls*

I’m adding my gingerbread truffles to the mix. Because if my friends and family are any indicator, it may be one of the best things I’ve ever mixed up for them. I also send them as a sweet reminder of the time to come. That despite the mix of spices used and how we may not think they work together, the end result is fantastic, which is a good discriptiom of us in the IF blogging world. We may seem like an odd mix of people, but when we’re put together, we have the amazing ability to make each other shine.

And my advice is, if the holidays get hard or difficult, we are all here waiting to help you through it. I’ve spent years just trying to survive, but each year since I’ve found this corner of the internet it’s gotten just a bit easier. And for that, I thank you all.


15 St. E { 11.27.13 at 4:02 am }

Happy Thanksgiving….I like the tradition and the idea of it, even though I am not an American.

I think I will bring my throw-everything-in soup to the table. It isn’t as bad as it sounds…there is some really fresh veggies in my home, and I plan to make a good hearty soup…the kind that I can store for a couple of days and consume it over this duration.

And I hope that its nutrition and warmth adds a glow to everyone.

16 Katherine A { 11.27.13 at 8:16 am }

I am so grateful for this community. For the many who have shared their stories in an effort to make sure that no one has to go through infertility alone. For the many that advocate publicly for change. For the many that reach out privately in their own communities, families, and homes. Thank you.

I’ll bring cranberry sweet rolls. It’s more of a breakfast food, but we do eat it as a dessert sometimes. It’s the first thing my mother taught me how to bake, and we have them every year at the holidays. It’s basically a braided bread around a cranberry/peach filling with a light glaze over top. It always makes me think of light and warmth – things this community provide in abundance.

17 Justine { 11.27.13 at 10:05 am }

I’m bringing apple pie, even though there’s another one on the table already … you can never have too much pie. Maybe a kale and farro salad, too. I’m grateful for this community that holds me, even when I abandon it, and return. Prodigal that I am. And grateful for so much powerful language, and the encouragement to return to my own wordsmithing.

18 Shana { 11.27.13 at 11:45 am }

I am bringing mashed sweet potatoes made with apples and pears because, well, it’s probably the only thing at the table my 2-year old will eat. And it’s yummy.

I’m going to say that I am thankful for a gazillion of the little trivial things that we tend to take for granted, because sometimes life feels so unfair and overwhelming and crappy that those things are all we can feel thankful for – things like toilet paper, coffee, central heat and air conditioning (I live in the desert SW, it gets 115 F over the summer, so yeah AC scores pretty darn high), and online bill-pay.

19 PNG { 11.27.13 at 2:28 pm }

Thank you for the invitation, this is my first Thanksgiving dinner ever. I am grateful for a lot of things, among others all the new friends I have made through my English blog.

I am bringing some raw “siika” fish. (Google translates this as whitefish?) It has a subtle sophisticated taste and is truly delicious, and usually enjoyed with a little sweetish dark bread. My dad used to fish and prepare siika as one of his favorite dishes. And I used to fish with him, back then, way too many years ago.

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