The holidays are coming, whether we feel ready or not. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite feast days, although I am a vegetarian and haven’t taken a bite of fowl for decades. It’s just nice to gather around a meal with family and friends without gifts or hearts or dyed hard-boiled eggs required.
The only thing you have to think about on Thanksgiving Day is giving thanks. Oh yes, and eating of course. But even the two responsibilities are tiny compared to the horror of having to find appropriate gifts at a reasonable cost for people you may not see very often and may not even like that much.
My Thanksgiving dinner this year will be held in the garden for several reasons. First, it is the place in which gratitude is easy because nature’s bounty is everywhere. Second, the back porch, chairs six feet apart, you get the picture. A groaning table on the back-porch checks all of the boxes this year.
A vegetarian Thanksgiving necessarily involves produce from the garden. Now not everybody has a garden, but anyone who whips up classics like mashed potatoes, peas, green beans, sweet potatoes or even stuffing with celery, onions and parsley has made use of someone’s garden.
As a gardener, it is fun to use everything I can from my own plantings. I always enjoy a big salad on Thanksgiving, to lighten up the otherwise carb-heavy offerings. And for that I rely on a mix of greens from my garden plot. I’m an optimist by nature, so I’m hoping to still have some cherry tomatoes on the enormous vines. But November is a tad late for tomatoes, even for San Francisco.
I’ll count on my winter squash and potatoes for Thanksgiving dishes. And I’ll surely use my own parsley and chives in the vegetarian stuffing. If I were in France, there would be wild mushrooms for gravy too, and chestnuts from my chestnut trees, but I will have to leaves those for the wild animals this year.
Decorations from the Garden
One thing you can be sure of: the decorations for this big holiday will come from my garden. I’m already collecting and pressing fallen leaves to scatter around the table.
And I plan to use gorgeous, faded hydrangea blossoms for the centerpiece. In France, these are known as a “winter bouquet.” I must admit I love this look so much that I don’t always wait for winter. I’ve had one right in the middle of my dining room table since the beginning of October!