In my world, the World of Gift Baskets, November is officially “Go Time.” No sooner are the jack-o-lanterns tossed in the green waste trash can, but the rush of holiday orders ensues. Ironically Easter is usually the holiday most closely associated with baskets full of treats, but when you think about it, Thanksgiving is really the ultimate time for giving gift baskets. It’s a time to share the bounty of the harvest and give thanks to those you love and are grateful for. And lets face it, it’s a holiday made for Foodies! What better time to share indulgent gourmet food, wine and beer with your friends and neighbors?
Sadly, with skyrocketing airfares and extended family scattered about, Thanksgiving can often be a time to more acutely feel the absence of those you can’t be with. Such is the case in my family. In the past I used to send a floral centerpiece to ensure I had a presence at those gatherings I was missing. The flowers were always appreciated, but when I started sending gift baskets filled with food and wine instead, I became a Legend. I love sending gift baskets at Thanksgiving because I can imagine my recipients enjoying all the treats I have thoughtfully selected just for them. Here’s who’s on my gift basket list this year:
For my brother who will be loading the car the night before and driving his family eight hours to his in-laws, I will send an assortment of road-trip snacks and games for the kids to enjoy as they travel “over the river and through the woods…”
For my sister, hosting her first Thanksgiving dinner in her new home, I am shipping a basket full of breakfast treats including biscotti and coffee to keep her going as she wakes up early to start preparing her big meal.
For my Dad and all of our family in Florida, two bottles of wine and appetizer items to tide his restless guests over until the Turkey is the proper shade of gold.
And for my best friend and her household full of Pittsburgh Steeler fans, an assortment of local craft beers and game day snacks to munch on during the big football game.
As for my family here in town, since my husband is in the fire service we often end up celebrating Thanksgiving at the fire station with the families of the other firefighters on duty that day. I love these gatherings. There is no pressure on any one host, no room for family drama in the neutral setting of the station, and we get to combine and share our various traditions and menu items. Yes, inevitably the bells ring for a call just as we sit down for the meal, but the abrupt absence of the firefighters hurrying off to help someone in need only reinforces and gives us pause to be grateful for our own health and safety. This year my husband will be off for the holiday, so we could potentially spend it here at home. For some reason though, I am just not feeling compelled to break out the cook books and dust off grandmother’s china. No, I have already contributed my part to this year’s Thanksgiving feast. This morning as I sipped my pumpkin latte, I googled the phone number for Glenn Annie Golf Club and made dinner reservations for six.
On that special Thursday, with a grateful heart I will slip a generous tip to the chef at the carving station. I will enjoy a helping of both the spiral ham AND the roasted turkey without concern for how to coordinate all that in my own tiny oven. After the meal I will gladly abandon the leftover stuffing and apple pie on the buffet table, not to be tempted by in my own fridge in the days to follow. And finally, as we leave, I will walk out of the dining room with a little bounce in my step as I leave the dishes and table linens to the waitstaff and busers to clear.
That Norman Rockwell image we have of the All-American Thanksgiving table is wonderful and iconic, but perhaps not one that most of us will experience this year. So, whether you are in charge of bringing the green bean casserole, preparing the entire meal yourself, or are assigned the task of making the reservations for dinner at a local restaurant, enjoy your time with those you have the privilege of being with, and make sure you let those you can’t be with know how much you care. Happy Thanksgiving!