Just back from a fortifying Thanksgiving weekend with Snakes’ family in Bethlehem, PA. There was a lively group of around 20 relatives and friends (ranging in ages from 90+ to 5), a nice crackling fire in the living room fireplace and enough food, drink and good cheer for seconds and thirds. There was also a fair amount of speculation about what shape our holidays may take next year. It’s becoming harder and harder to not view everything through that lens.
Wandering through the boutiques on Main Street the next day, I admired the buildings gussied up in their twinkling holiday finery. All of the buildings and many of the homes in Bethlehem adorn their windows with a single candle light. It’s so elegant. I remember when I was a kid, my mom, sister and I would do the same to our big drafty old farmhouse on the hill. Once we’d finished scouting all the necessary extension cords, untangling the lights and assigning each to a window, the 3 of us would pack into the front seat of the car and drive slowly up and down our dirt road admiring our work from all of the possible vantage points. Wow! Could that really be our house?? So warm and welcoming and impressive.
I imagine that trying to preserve some of these traditions presents a major challenge in the foreign service. I’m hoping some of this can be accomplished through food. Every year my MIL makes a stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner from a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. The first of their Thanksgivings I attended, she tossed me the recipe when I walked into her kitchen asking if there was anything I could do to help.
I expected to be drying dishes or chopping onions. When something so serious as stuffing was entrusted to me I was honored and terrified at once. It must’ve turned out well because I’ve been helping make it each year since. Heavy on the carbs and butter, it’s a glorious comfort food that I look forward to every year. I hope they have all of these ingredients in Luanda!