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The Welcome Table: An Annual Online Thanksgiving Meal


[Melissa stands up, taps her fork against her glass, and clears her throat.  The conversation around the table dies down, and she suddenly knows how Dumbledore feels as he delivers his Welcome-Back-to-Hogwarts speech.  She considers growing a long white beard before next year’s meal.]

Welcome, everyone, to our annual pre-Thanksgiving online meal.  Let’s just put it out there bluntly: sometimes the holidays are great, and sometimes they suck, but everyone deserves to have a nice meal around a table (even if it’s only a virtual one) where they feel comfortable and know that the other inhabitants at the table have their back.

For some people, this pre-meal is what gets them through their real meal later in the week.  People have written that they’ve printed out this yearly post and comments and left the paper in their purse because it helped to have a tangible reminder that there were people out there who got it.  Who weren’t going to ask them when they were going to hurry up and have children.  Who weren’t going to cringe when someone spoke the name of a child they lost.

We are all so different.  All of us.  Around this table.  But we have this one facet of our lives — and yes, even though it may be a big, overpowering one for you right now, it is only one facet of who you are — where we overlap: infertility or adoption or loss.  And I am so thankful, so grateful, that I found all of you.  Everyone needs a You-shaped space where they can be themselves.  And that’s what I have here.

So every year, I ask people to bring a virtual dish to our meal.  Place it in the comment section, explaining what you brought and why.  And say anything else you need to say before sitting back down to enjoy the company.  Update about where you are; your emotional state.  We’re an international group, hailing from countries all around the world.  So while Thanksgiving is an American tradition, I hope that everyone around the world feels as if they can participate.  (Especially our Canadian neighbours who celebrated Thanksgiving weeks ago.)  I’d love for your dish to come from your culture or country.  Don’t worry about the contents on the table clashing.

So I am bringing Mary McCartney’s English pea soup.  I know, not exactly traditional Thanksgiving fare, but it’s warm and filling and it makes me happy.  Plus I can make it ahead of time because it freezes beautifully.  In the summer, I like salads.  But cold weather calls for vegetable-based soups.

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.


1 Denver Laura { 11.25.14 at 7:53 am }

I’m bringing deviled eggs. My mom always put relish in it but I hate it so I leave it out. I know it’s typically a southern dish, but everybody seems to like it.
As im at the obgyn yesterday waiting to get an iud to put an end to my decade of infertility, I hear a heartbeat on the sonogram next door. I burst into tears. Every time I think I’ve moved on something like that happens.

2 earthandink { 11.25.14 at 8:56 am }

I’m bring au gratin potatoes. They feel nurturant and homey to me.

I’m a mess. I have to move and am trying to figure out if I can last another week where I am or need to move today. I am sad and alone and will be alone for Thanksgiving (and on all the other holidays this year too), but with the social anxiety I have happening right now, that may be a good thing. I’m in the hardest time of my life, which is saying something. And every time I think it’s gotten just a sliver of easier, it gets a little harder.

That said, I am also grateful. I am thankful I have the strength to keep putting one foot in front of another. I am thankful that I will have delicious food on Thanksgiving. I am thankful that there are more things than just this that I am thankful for. And I am thankful that you are doing this. It makes me feel so much less alone and has in me in tears right now. But good ones.

3 earthandink { 11.25.14 at 8:56 am }

bringing. bringing. not I’m bring. Yeesh, me.

4 Suzanna Catherine { 11.25.14 at 9:34 am }

Thanks, Denver Laura, for bringing the deviled eggs. So glad you leave out the relish! At my childhood family’s table, there were always deviled eggs, a dish of midget sweet pickles and black olives. We always had a dish of whole berry cranberry sauce – made from scratch. So good. We followed the traditional menu with mashed potatoes, green beans (in later years green bean casserole), corn, homemade yeast rolls and always pumpkin and mincemeat pies.

Fast forward several years. My first Thanksgiving with my new husband’s family, I was astonished when my mother-in-law served a baked ham AND a huge pot of Rigatoni and Italian meatballs along side the turkey! There were green peas instead of green beans, a yellow squash casserole, turnip greens, cornbread, rice instead of mashed potatoes and for dessert, coconut cream and sweet potatoe pies. It was definitely culture shock. Over the years, I came to embrace some of the differences – though I never have acquired a taste for cooked greens of any sort.

Sending good wishes and ((hugs))to all who will be spending this Thanksgiving without – – without loved ones who have passed away – without the little one so longed for. You are in my prayers.

5 nonsequiturchica { 11.25.14 at 9:46 am }

I’ll bring my mom’s stuffing because it is amazingly delicious.

I’m a bit worried about what will happen with our FET next year, but otherwise doing okay. I am also thankful this year that IVF worked and we met our daughter just one day after Thanksgiving last year.

6 loribeth { 11.25.14 at 10:04 am }

Thank you for doing this again, Mel. Always such a pleasure to get together with everyone. You have all been such a blessing & an inspiration to me over the years. (@Suzanna Catherine, come sit by me & we can compare Italian in-law culture shock stories, lol. 😉 )

I am bringing cabbage rolls — which my Dad orders about 20 dozen at a time from a Ukrainian lady who is now in her late 80s (!!)(but still makes them for my Dad, because she likes him) & drives two hours to pick up, once or twice a year. Cooked in tomato juice for most of you, with a portion set aside for me (tomato allergy) cooked in water, oil & fresh dill). We always have these with the turkey for (Canadian) Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner — along with the mashed potatos, stuffing, gravy & dinner rolls. Carbs R Us. 😉

7 Manapan { 11.25.14 at 10:21 am }

I’m bringing caramel rolls and apple cinnamon oatmeal pies.

And a lot of gratitude to be at a holiday table, so thanks for doing this again! We have always spent the holidays with my extended family because my wife’s family lives several hours away. My family hasn’t been willing to accept my wife’s transition though, and where she’s not welcome, we’re not going without her. But our little table of three feels so empty and reminds me of the children who should be in the open chairs.

8 Justine { 11.25.14 at 11:26 am }

This is one Thanksgiving meal that I wouldn’t miss. I’m bringing apple pie, because I think I make a pretty rockin’ pie, and because I don’t much like any of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. We’re going to spend the holiday without extended family and without a meal that just makes me upset. I feel like I won!

I’m always so grateful for this community, and for the connections that bind us, despite our differences. This is a place I call home.

9 Katherine { 11.25.14 at 1:11 pm }

I’m an expat kid — my mom’s American, but I grew up in southern Europe. We never celebrated Thanksgiving growing up. Then I moved to the US for college — and stayed there for a long long time, went to grad school, got jobs, got married there, had my first miscarriages there, had my first daughter there. And celebrated many many Thanksgivings with my mother’s family, and my brother (who also moved to the States.)

We have left now. We are expats in the middle east, and Every little part of me aches when I think of this big chunk of my lifetime that I left behind me, when I think of my first baby’s first home — which was dismantled in such a rush and sold, piece by piece, on craigslit when we left nearly 4 years ago. During thanksgiving, that ache is even greater. I miss my mom’s family, I miss my brother’s family, I miss the crazy thanksgiving airtravel (where every college student, it seems, is doing homework at the airport) and the snow and the crisp air and the american football. I even miss the Black Friday craziness. And I miss the person I was when this was all fresh to me — the college student whose whole life stretched ahead of her, anticipating it with wide eyes. The me before grief, before cynicism, before middle age.

I come to this virtual meal immensely thankful, yet a little lost. Not knowing where I belong, or what I should be planning. I am turning 40 this spring, and I am not the me I set out to be when I left home at 18. None of my career ambitions materialized. And, being at the heel of yet another miscarriage, my family still feels incomplete. And I am slowly coming to realize that I will probably have to live with both these facts for whatever time I have left.

I am bringing the quintessential American thanksgiving pumpkin pie to our virtual meal. I’d never had it before I was 18 (and haven’t had it since I left) but fell in love with it and it all it represents.

10 Cristy { 11.25.14 at 1:30 pm }

Thank you for hosting this virtual meal, Mel. It’s one of the few things I look forward to during this time of year.

Being a traditionalist, I am bring honey pumpkin pie. Each year, Grey and I make these together, carving out time to be together for making this dessert.

This holiday season is a strange one for me. It’s the second year of being resolved, and yet the first year I actually have had time to sit back and reflect on it all. In a lot of ways, I am so thankful for all we have. Yet, the gravity of our years in the trenches and our losses still hits me hard. And I’m reminded of how few people really understand that. So I’m beyond grateful for this group and everyone here, no matter where they are in their journey.

11 Kimberly { 11.25.14 at 4:51 pm }

Thanks for this Mel. I’ve had a particularly bad day dealing with my grandfather’s quickly declining health and I just needed this to come home to, even if my thanksgiving was last month.

I’m bringing my Gingerbread Truffles. Made from scratch. They are exhausting and time consuming and I make them once a year and they are passed out as gifts. I bring them to this table because I only give them to people I care about and who are there for me and this community has been there for me time and time again when I didn’t think I could continue fighting.

Other than my grandfathers health, we are waiting on the results of my husbands semen analysis (I think its pretty cool that I could say that at this table and no one would flinch) before we look at me going on Clomid. It only took 5.5 years, but we may get to actually try something in the new year!

12 a { 11.25.14 at 6:08 pm }

Ack! Keep Loribeth’s cabbage rolls away from me! They sound like the ones my mom made when I was growing up, which were the bane of my existence!

I feel like I should volunteer to bring the turkey, since no one else has stepped up yet. I make a decent turkey, and I would hate for the meal to be incomplete. Plus, I like leftover turkey sandwiches…to the point where I will eat them for every meal for 3-4 days. But only once or twice a year.

To the community, I would like to say good luck with your future endeavors. And when you do eventually succeed in creating your family, please take note of what’s going on in society today, and ensure that your family takes part in helping to find a solution – so that all people can live peacefully and contentedly.

13 a { 11.25.14 at 6:10 pm }

Also, back to Loribeth – my husband wanted ham for Thanksgiving last year (Italians!). This year, he mentioned Thanksgiving dinner and I started yelling “WE ARE NOT HAVING HAM THIS YEAR! OR MAYBE EVER AGAIN! On Thanksgiving, anyway.” I may have overreacted just a tad.

14 a { 11.25.14 at 6:11 pm }

Oops – sorry – that was Suzanna Catherine with the ham…

15 loribeth { 11.25.14 at 7:43 pm }

@a: Cabbage rolls made me cringe all through my childhood & teenage years (along with borscht, perogies & all those other traditional Ukrainian delicacies). Then I developed an appreciation in adulthood for then, & have been asking forgiveness from my Baba (who died when I was 14 & still in my picky phase) ever since then. (And of course, now I CAN’T eat anything with tomato in it — so long, borscht & traditionally made cabbage rolls… — I guess it’s karmic justice?)

My (non-Italian) family often has ham at Thanksgiving and Christmas too. But in addition to the turkey, not instead!! lol

16 Cathryn { 11.25.14 at 8:42 pm }

I’m picking up my rainbow girl from college, and I’m bringing whatever she is making. It makes me proud that I have taught her how to cook and she enjoys doing it. I’m bringing her broccoli-cheese casserole.

17 Mali { 11.25.14 at 9:00 pm }

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in NZ, of course, so I’m fascinated by all the dishes people contribute to the feast. This time of year though we are always thankful that summer is almost here, and the end of year is approaching.

I’ll bring some good New Zealand wine (sauvignon blanc, and maybe a pinot noir or syrah) to contribute to the meal, and some touches of summer. Maybe some fresh grilled asparagus – while it is still in season – with my friends’ own olive oil. And in previous years I’ve probably contributed pavlova, so I’ll make a slight change, and this year present my meringue (Christmas) tree dessert, with its seven layers of meringue, fresh berries and whipped cream. Not for the faint of heart.

And I guess that’s what I want to say to this community. None of us here are faint-hearted, after what we’ve been through or are still going through. We deserve something sweet in our lives. And I thank you Mel for giving us the opportunity to stop, breathe, take some time, and reflect on the sweetness we have already.

18 Northern Star { 11.25.14 at 9:35 pm }

I’m bringing perogies and sour cream (are these a prairie Canadian staple or do people eat this in other parts of North Anerica?).

Thank you to the community for being such a solid group of people for each and everyone one of us. I truly feel blessed to be part of a network of such beautiful, open minded and supportive individuals.

Most of all, thanks to Mel, our blog mama, for spearheading all things infertility blog related. You are amazing!

19 MrsH { 11.25.14 at 10:13 pm }

I am bringing some bird’s nest cookies because they are comforting and because I am currently very much obsessed with making the perfect batch https://betchacanteatjustone.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/bird-nest-cookies/
I am so thankful for the infertility and loss community on the blog, and to Mel for the consistent work that she has been doing for us for so many years. If it were not for you ladies out there, I would have felt so ALONE in my little town where nobody had a tenth of my problems, and where nobody really got what it was to walk in my shoes. Crushing pain and disappointment time after time. And yet, all I had to do is to connect to the online community and share the burden.
I guess I am bringing this image to the table too: that of extending one’s hand and all of us connecting, helping to ease some of the pain. Thanks for that ladies!

20 Middle Girl { 11.26.14 at 1:05 am }

What a wonderful idea and activity! To the party I shall bring three cheese mac and cheese. It is a creamy, gooey, delicious dish. So decadent that it is only prepared three times a year.

The holidays are not the same since my mother’s passing. It is a challenge to stay IN the moment for my daughter’s sake. She is a culinary student and is taking on preparing all (but the mac and cheese) this year.

I wish for all a day of tranquility.

21 Rachel { 11.26.14 at 6:08 am }

I’m bringing a big bowl of poutine (cheese curds and gravy on fries) because it’s a huge hit here and my American friends all think it’s gross…so hopefully you’ll all give it a try!

While I celebrated Thanksgiving last month, I am ALWAYS up for another Turkey dinner so count me in! My thanksgiving was filled with the normal challenges…the inevitable conversation turning to parenting and my awkward place…unable to fit in being the ONLY person in attendance without children. But I was surprised to find that not one person asked me when I was having kids. Not one told me to hurry up and have them. Not one even remarked about how great of a mother I’ll be one day. So, that made it easier and it showed progress in our family. Overall, not a bad holiday … I count it as almost a success. And I hope you all have the same experience too. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

22 Karen (formerly Serenity) { 11.26.14 at 8:39 am }

I have a huge platter of roasted root vegetables to share: turnips, sweet potatoes, parsnips, purple and orange carrots, and onions.

Thanksgiving, for me, has lost a lot of the sting of our years of infertility, but fall does seem to be the season of loss. I lost my aunt and two of my pregnancies in the fall, and it’s my birthday near the holiday (today, actually!), so it’s bittersweet. I am thankful for all I have, but I also mourn for my losses, too.

23 Valery Valentina { 11.26.14 at 9:38 am }

POFfertjes, the Dutch mini pancakes. With clouds of white powdered sugar. (and real butter, to melt) And I’ll bring this ice sculpture in the shape of a baby polar bear, just in case I I choke up before I can say Knut’s name.
Karen, I’ll sit close to you, to share both the veggies and stories about loss in the fall.
Happy birthday!

24 Jess { 11.26.14 at 11:00 am }

I love this idea! I am bringing bourbon sweet potatoes, because I was under the misapprehension that I couldn’t have bourbon as a celiac for a long time and I have sorely missed them! (I can have bourbon, gluten doesn’t survive distilling.) They are my dad’s recipe and I have tweaked them, and they are comforting and not all the alcohol cooks out so they make you warm all over for a multitude of reasons. (They are, however, not health food–a lot of butter and heavy cream and molasses in with that bourbon…)

I am going into my 10th transfer in December, a FET with an odd little (hopefully miraculous) stimming protocol so my ovaries make the lining, not oral or injectable estrogen. Supposedly this will help with the implantation issues that have kept us from bringing home a baby over the past 5 years. I am so, so tired but have a little bitty bit of hope, even though it’s so hard to believe that this will work out for us when we have 25 embryos gone by (two that stayed longer than the others) and no high chairs at the Thanksgiving table to show for it. However, I’m feeling kind of peaceful, trying to take things as they come, and trying really hard not to have cycling during the holidays get me down.

I love this community, I love the idea of us all sitting at a table full of comfort foods of all kinds, joining hands and feeling a sense of belonging where no one would say anything unintentionally (or otherwise) hurtful or sting-y. Happy Thanksgiving!

25 Reb { 11.26.14 at 11:09 am }

I’ll be bringing stuffing and my homemade crescent rolls. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them!

Thank you so much for welcoming me in even though I’m new here. It is so wonderful to be able to meet all of you amazing, inspiring people. Thank you for being here and sharing your stories and supporting each other!

I’m overwhelmed by the costs of the diagnostic tests I’ve done so far and trying not to think too much about how much an IUI will cost if we get to that point in January. I wanted to start one in December, but decided it would be too hard at the holidays, especially now that we have family coming to visit. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put it all out of my mind enough to just enjoy this holiday season, which is usually my favorite time of year.

26 Lori Lavender Luz { 11.26.14 at 4:01 pm }

I’m happy that Denver Laura is at the table 🙂

I’ve got kabocha squash from my garden, roasted with butter and maple syrup.

Hello old friends and new friends!

27 Mina { 11.26.14 at 5:47 pm }

Hello, everyone! Where shall I put my swiss merengues with whisky filling? Merengues are so easy to bake when they come out right, and of course devilishly hard when they don’t. This time they came out right.
Mmm, everything looks amazing. 🙂
I am sorry I don’t have that much time anymore. I miss many of the posts I don’t want to miss, and when I do get to catch up with your blogs, I sometimes skip commenting, even though the post stays with me for days. I simply don’t have the physical time. I am now in the phase when I can’t postpone things I need to do. I hope it is short lived, this phase, but hello, there, relativity, thank you for complicating and simplifying lives.
I miss you. I raise my glass of kiwi wine to your good health, kind souls, generous hearts and incredible sense of humour! You have made my life better. Let’s save getting trashed until the next Lushary, alright? For now, let’s be the ladies we sometimes forget we are, and be on our most Downton-esque table behaviour. To you!

28 Lisa {Amateur Nester} { 11.27.14 at 12:14 am }

What a lovely idea! I’m bringing mac-n-cheese. Not the kind with lowfat cheese. And definitely not gluten-free. I’m bringing cheesy, creamy, gluten-full macaroni and cheese. Comfort food at its finest. For me, Thanksgiving signals the start of the holiday season and the last few holiday seasons have been hard. Last year, I was hoping that our first round of IVF would give us a Christmas baby. Well, one chemical pregnancy and two failed IVFs later, that Christmas baby doesn’t exist. Part of me just wants to fast forward to Jan 1 and get it over with. But I’m so extremely grateful for infertility blogging community. Every day, ladies (and a few men) I’ve never met, from around the world, make me laugh, cry with me, encourage me, and share their stories with me. I’m so grateful for this online community. I honestly don’t know how women survived this before the internet. Bless you, Melissa, for creating such a wonderful community here and such a wonderful blog post.

29 Charlie's Bird { 11.27.14 at 1:17 am }

As a South African we don’t have a Thanksgiving to celebrate, but if I may join you all at this table, I will bring a Rosemary Remembrance loaf. To remember what dreams we had…

30 Jess { 11.27.14 at 10:38 am }

Charlie’s Bird, that sounds amazing. And so beautiful–“Rosemary Remembrance Loaf to remember what dreams we had.” Love it.

31 deathstar { 11.27.14 at 11:03 am }

Late as usual, but I bring wine, non alcoholic and the real stuff. A lovely bottle of Italian pinot grigio, Canadian merlot, and American rose. Also Stevie Wonder’s Songs from the Key of Life for after dinner and we’re drinking and sitting around. I’m grateful for a community that taught me so much, the horror and the wonder, the compassion and the pain, the joy and the bittersweetness. Did I memtion I brought homemade apple pie and white cheddar cheese?

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