This year marked the 25th Anniversary of the “Island of Lost Toys” Thanksgiving. It is something we have done for years. It started when we lived in Spain. Most of us could not afford to fly to The States for Thanksgiving, so we invited all the “Dorm Rats” to our house (we did it for Xmas too – but have stopped that). We had no dining room table and the world’s smallest oven (Moment of Truth – to roast the turkey we had to wrap the entire thing in foil and shove it into the oven DIAGONALLY and rotate it every half hour). People came and sat on the floor, the couch, any place that was available and we had a BLAST. Now of course with John having retired from military service, we don’t have the “Dorm Rats”, but we do have friends in Vegas who have no family here (Or don’t want to spend the whole day with their family for whatever reason) and we all come together to enjoy food and spirits.

In all of my married years I have never had Thanksgiving with my Mom. I have had five Thanksgiving holidays with my Dad. We lived closer to one another and he and Nettie drove to be with me and my family. I have only had one Thanksgiving with any of my siblings. Our military life required that we live where John’s assignment was and we simply could not afford to fly all over the place on the busiest travel weekend of the year. So we have always done our own thing and made meals with our “chosen family” of dear friends.

That ONE tradition of joining together with friends continues

During a phone call with Friend John M, he said, “I thought we weren’t going to make it this year. I hate to break with tradition, so I am glad plans changed.” It never occurred to me that Thanksgiving with the Morrises was a TRADITION until he said that. It was just a meal we had with friends. I think this was the 8th Thanksgiving we have spent with the Morrises! That ONE tradition of joining together with friends continues, but components of the menu change every year and the people have changed throughout the years. We now fry our turkeys (yes plural). I make Southern dishes because I like them better than Yankee dishes (don’t judge) and this year will be the first year that I actually have a dining room table. Now that we are permanently in one place our guest list includes The Usual Suspects and new people as we meet them. It’s an eclectic mix of artists, teachers, military members, health care professionals, cooks and non cooks.

I just read an article in Bon Appetit about traditions. The writer says his mom didn’t have traditions that she passed down to her family and that he and his gal are making their own traditions. John and I have done that too. While both of our Moms handed down traditions, we thought it was important to keep some of those and toss others out and make our own as we went along (like dinner at home for Valentine’s Day, dinner out for Xmas, shopping on our Anniversary and eating Chinese food for lunch on Boxing Day).

If the people, food and setting aren’t the same from year to year, can it really be called a “tradition”? I think so. What makes it a tradition is the communal meal, regardless of who is there and what is being served. It is a family gathering of sorts, but instead of blood relatives, it is the family we have chosen to be part of our lives. Would I like a “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner with all the family? Sure! But let’s face it, that’s probably never going to happen. In the meantime I will continue with the TRADITIONS we have created.

Holly, Anna, Laurie


The laden table

Small Business Saturday Bazaar at the El Cortez

Food Memories this week include dinner and drinks with friends all day long on Thanksgiving, Black Friday Mexican food with assorted Moonens (so glad I got to meet them), Small Biz Saturday dining and shopping with my two guys, leftovers and Turkey Tetrazzini for my favorite college student.

The famous Tetrazzini…

Until next week, go out and make your OWN Food Memories!