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I seemed to be the most apprehensive one in my family while planning our annual Thanksgiving get together.  Covid fears managed to remove a good part of the pleasure of the planning.  This year, it was a plan to survive!  All the anti-get together harping on the media had only intensified my fears that it was a hopeless undertaking.  The other members of the family just decided to take serious precautions and plowed ahead. After a somewhat lame attempt at trying to steer the ship in a different direction,  I somewhat reluctantly joined the throng in favor of working it out, rather than being the wet rag that kept saying no. What I mainly felt, was uncertainty.

I always enjoy decorating, so a few weeks agoI got into screwing around with the centerpiece for the dining room table.  My affinity for ceramics led me to a liking for  vintage and decorative Italian topiary items on Ebay.  I’d collected   3-4 of the beauties  ready to be put to use  over the winter holidays.   The centerpiece came together nicely and was pleasing, if not thrilling.  Maybe because I seemed to be the only one paying slightest bit of attention to it.  Please note the beaded turkey ornament sitting atop the orange topiary.  I was very happy to find that in my stash of stuff from years past and museum glue it to the the top of of the tope, overlooking the holiday scene. I seem to have family in mind when creating these scenes, clearly hoping that my grandkids will enjoy them at least half as much as I do.  If they don’t comment, I invite them to look at it, searching for compliments.  Ever a frustrated performer, I guess, looking for approval.  Yuck.

We’d recently been given two gas powered outdoor heat lamps from a friend moving out of town, so that made it seem like it would be reasonably comfortable to eat our dinners outside. It was more than comfortable.  Toasty, really.  The night air was cool and the heaters were called a “game changer” by my daughter. So right!

I’d bought a string of white lights for the occasion.  My son-in -law quickly and expertly tacked them to the perimeter of our eating area on the  deck.  I liked that look. kinda holiday, but not too far gone.  Downright festive. He brought clips with him, somehow knowing, we wouldn’t have any.  Btw, don’t ever give a Jew a string of lights and expect that they’ll have any idea about  how to go about hanging them.  Another reason to have some diversity in a family.

So we came together, a close group of 8 family members and two well behaved dogs. My youngest granddaughter made paper turkey face masks for us as well as turkey face cookies.  My oldest granddaughter baked a delicious sourdough bread.  Dan did the bulk of the prep and work as he always does, all from scratch.  I make a fresh cranberry sauce which was the perfect antidote to my overly sweet sweet potato with marshmallow casserole. No one complained.   Add a cornbread w /sausage stuffing, slivered brussel sprouts and a glorious homemade apple pie courtesy of Susanna, and it was a fine pretty traditional  meal. Since there wasn’t enough space around the outside table,  I ate just inside in the kitchen, prompting someone in the outside group to quip  that I looked like the hired help. It was definitely a little weird to be eating solo, but not overly so in this time of weirdness..  Definitely not weird enough to make me drag a chair to the table outside.

The kids had a great game of hide & seek going after dinner and the adults headed to help with cleanup.  I decided to head for bed.  Party over.

Another holiday celebrated.  I’m very hopeful that we were careful enough so that no one will become ill. Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday.  I’m reluctant to see it fall from grace.  Well, we did our part to keep it going.

Can we just take a minute to acknowledge the genius of whoever thought that cranberry sauce should be a part of the turkey dinner?


Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Judie Swope says:

    Perfect description of a strange but wonderful holiday. Remember we are survivors🥰

  • Susan Alexander says:

    I LOVED your description of T-Day at your house, and was laughing out loud to myself as I read it. You are such a delight, and your writing is a joy to read! Love the photos also, especially of the decor items you have gathered together, but also of the cookies, the masks, and the lights. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! xoxox

  • Judith Wallner says:

    In case no one mentioned…your table decor is marvelous, inventive and fun. Love it all….and Natana out did herself with the turkey masks and all those yummy looking cookies. Let’s talk soon, I was going to call you but I knew you would have a lot going on. On way to Christmas. My dear gardeners helped me put up lights all down my front fence. I was so grateful I started crying!

  • Laura Wilson says:

    I love fresh cranberry sauce also….especially on the turkey sandwiches post-today! I love your jeweled turkey!

  • Eleanor says:

    Well done dear friend. Loved the topiary. Beautiful and the touch of bling. -Turkey jewels. Xo

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