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The Welcome Table: An Annual Online Thanksgiving Meal

thanksgiving table

[Melissa stands up, taps her fork against her glass, and clears her throat. The conversation around the table dies down. She looks at everyone at the table.]

We do this every year: Come together as a community and have a virtual meal before we scatter to our actual meals. Unless, that is, you do not celebrate Thanksgiving. But I hope that you’ll join the table for virtual food and company even if you don’t follow this tradition offline.

We’ve virtually eaten together since 2009.  That’s when this tradition began.  There are some people hurting at this table. 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.

I am bringing stuffing. It’s comfort food; mushy and soggy and warm.

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 Beth { 11.21.17 at 7:52 am }

Thanks for hosting, as always. I love stuffing. I’m brining an apple pie. It’s just the right combo of sweet, tangy and spicy, flaky, soft and crisp. The perfect end (or beginning) to our meal. So thankful for this community.

2 Cristy { 11.21.17 at 9:05 am }

Thank you for hosting this virtual meal, Mel. After years of infertility, loss and now being resolved, this space and this virtual gathering has been a haven from the rest of the world. These posts and comments help me survive the IRL gatherings that will happen.

I’m bringing green bean casserole. It’s a comfort dish I found as a child, but it’s also something that reminds me of how powerful simple and warmth inducing things can be for the body, mind and soul. That often it’s not fixing things, but being with people in the moment that is most important. And that’s what I want to be as others travel down this shared path. No judgment, just love

3 April { 11.21.17 at 9:44 am }

Thank you for hosting all of us again this year. I’ve brought my Grandma’s noodles. She always made them from scratch and it was one of the many ways she showed her love of us through the food she cooked. It’s a comfort food for me. I’ve also brought wine because it’s a staple at our Thanksgiving table IRL.

This year has been hard for me. My step-daughter left for college and is several hours away. We are relearning ourselves as a couple and dealing with an empty nest. We are getting used to our new normal, but it’s brought back all the sadness of not having more kids. It has reopened the discussion of fostering or adopting from foster care so that is a positive.

I’ll be thinking of you all on Thursday.

4 Working mom of 2 { 11.21.17 at 11:35 am }

I’m bringing baklava. My dad’s recipe, veganized with a couple of small changes. I made it for him on his last birthday not realizing it was his last birthday.

5 Jess { 11.21.17 at 5:16 pm }

If that stuffing is gluten free, I’ll take some! 🙂 Thanks for having me at the table. I am bringing my bourbon tipsy yams. The secret is to NOT cook out the bourbon, and add plenty of butter and brown sugar/molasses. (Although I could leave some in the pot and cook it out for those of you who are expecting, ha.)

I am experiencing the holiday this year for the first time as a resolved person, who is not parenting. It’s a double-edged sword thing, because I’m happy to not live in limbo anymore, but I am grieving the holiday traditions I’ll never share with a little one. A bonus is our traditions can now involve booze or late nights/late mornings, so we’re trying to compile all the positives. Some days are easier than others. The holidays puts the bustle on pause a bit and I fear the sucker punches.

Thanks for this table, I am thinking of you and toasting to a wonderful holiday meal, wherever you are on this rollercoaster ride.

6 Miriam { 11.21.17 at 8:00 pm }

Going full-fledged Ashkenazi Jew with one – it is potato kugel time! (Okay it is always potato kugel time.). Carbs made denser and saltier and crustier

Things are pretty good here; thankful for my miracle babies and my family and nervously excited to start a new job soon in academic medicine but part time!

My Auntie Cyrille z”l always recited a poem at Thanksgiving, written for her by my Zayde Fred, who immigrated from Odessa.

Thanksgiving comes but once a year, but always it is full if cheer.

There is but one who rues this day; who this one is I need not say.

But just in case you have some doubt — it’s Turkey Gobbler I speak about.

But for the rest of us Thanksgiving Day is a day to fuss, a day to pray, a day to thank Heaven we live in the good old US of A.

Happy Thanksgiving and an extra helping of kugel for those having a rough season, topped with a heaping portion of love.

7 torthuil { 11.21.17 at 9:07 pm }

Happy American Thanksgiving!! I’ll bring soup because it just feels good to eat hot soup. For the first time ever I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (resolution to infertility). We have one child and are expecting the second, and are pretty sure our family will be complete when the current bun is baked. It’s a big relief, something to celebrate and also unknown territory. In a way I think living in the limbo of infertility allowed me to put other parts of my life on hold and avoid big questions about who I am and what I want. I feel closer to those challenges now, as the challenge (hopefully) takes its place in the past. But in the moment I’m mainly joyful, and I’m allowing myself to be.

8 Mali { 11.22.17 at 2:16 am }

Thanks as always for housing, Mel. Of course, we don’t have Thanksgiving in New Zealand, and I think I’m thankful for that, coming as it does so close to the end of year. I usually bring something summery, as we’re just starting to enjoy summer weather and foods at there moment. So I’ll do that by bringing a bottle of NZ sauvignon blanc. And I’ll make my favourite spinach pie, Erbazzone, which I blogged about a few weeks ago.

9 Lori Lavender Luz { 11.22.17 at 1:57 pm }

I’m bringing mashed sweet potatoes with sage and orange. So thankful to gather with you all again. I’m grateful for all that you bring me throughout the year.

10 Valery Valentina { 11.22.17 at 4:25 pm }

I’m bringing poffertjes, the Dutch mini pancakes, as always, in keeping with my diagnosis of Premature Ovarian Failure, although I believe they changed the name now. I am also bringing Suzy, my 4.5 year old DE girl. She would not have existed without all of you, your stories, your support. It was so important to me while making the hardest decisions in my life. She will go around the table and put powdered sugar on top of your poffertjes. (she might not stop before we all look like Olaf the living snowman from her favorite movie ‘Frozen’ )
Lori please pass those sweet potatoes? sounds so yum

11 Betty M { 11.22.17 at 5:40 pm }

I’ll bring some homemade vanilla fudge for eating at that moment when you’ve eaten too much and yet you want that little something. Thanks for hosting.

12 Charlotte { 11.22.17 at 8:35 pm }

Thank you so much for hosting this every year, Mel. Over the years it has become more and more of the only place I feel like I truly belong. (I might have just come from a family gathering where over and over throughout the day I felt all these different ways in which I didn’t quite fit in and felt like an outsider in my own family. I wonder if there is anyone else who has ever felt that way?)

I am going to bring dinner rolls to the table. Their warm, gooey, buttery, carb-y goodness is the ultimate comfort food, and I would rather eat a plate of rolls than turkey any day.

13 MissingNoah { 11.23.17 at 12:03 am }

I’ll bring the Lysol! My rainbow puked four times during the second half of the 8 hour drive to my mom’s. the last time was in my hair. So I’m stinky, sorry!

I’m remembering Thanksgiving four years ago, which was incredibly raw after losing Noah a month before.

I’m feeling a little wounded at how much everyone else has moved on, and how most of my family forgot or ignored his birthday. And wishing we could have more, but knowing that with IF, HG, prematurity, and speacial needs – it’s highly unlikely.

14 loribeth { 11.24.17 at 8:53 pm }

Happy American Thanksgiving! Thanks for hosting again, Mel 🙂 and for all you do for us, individually and as a community.

I’m a little late to the table, so I’ll bring some dessert this year — my American Grandma’s favourite apple pie, warmed up, with ice cream. 🙂

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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