This was my third Thanksgiving that I’ve spent very far from my family. While I am extremely close to my mom, dad, and sister, living outside of Oregon for most of the last 2 years has resulted in the loss of some traditional family holidays. I’ve found that the holidays are weird when you live away from your family mostly because while your day just feels any other, the marking of it as a special day reminds you that time is passing, that you are away, and you are alone (not necessarily in a terrible “no one to turn to” way but in a reflective “this is the life I’ve chosen” way).
Because my immediate family is all so close, most days I feel like I’m “missing out” regardless of the holidays, but luckily for me my family is very good at communicating and voicing appreciation for one another through group messages, pictures, and frequent phone calls. I’ve also been lucky to spend my favorite holiday (Christmas!) with my parents for the last couple years when they braved the snow, cold, and calamity of holiday travel to visit me in Montreal and Amsterdam. Both of these trips are on my list of favorite experiences of my life. Beyond that, I’ve been able to see them in Copenhagen, had a visit from my sister in Amsterdam and traveled to Oregon for a month this September and I’m telling you, every time I see these people it feels like Christmas!
So far this holiday season I feel very reflective and alone as I’m finding my balance in Montreal; not yet moved into our apartment, (f)un-employed, and far away from *almost* everyone I love. But! I’m lucky to have my two favorite things in the world right here with me: Phil & Food. And, of course, the company and infinite wisdom of a few inspirational books. This brings me to what I did to celebrate American Thanksgiving this year from afar.
Canadians have their own Thanksgiving holiday in October and the American holiday is also known as the “National Day of Mourning” in recognition of the atrocities suffered by Native people upon the arrival of Pilgrams to Massachusetts in 1620 (Spoiler: they did not simply break bread and put their differences aside to have a fun feast). However, in the spirit of celebrating holidays despite their strange origins, Phil and I made his parents a little feast in order to give thanks for letting us stay with them upon our arrival to Montreal and as a great excuse to get creative in the kitchen.
For this meal we wanted to really go for an American theme, rather than a more typical turkey and mashed potatoes type theme. I made some little menus for the table and found the most cozy and delicious recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Cobbler from my favorite cooking site Half Baked Harvest, and I followed the recipe to a T (for the first time in my life). Because I’m obsessed with all things Sharp Cheddar, I knew I was going to love the cobbler, which is a thick soup with Parmesan biscuits baked inside. Although mine didn’t turn out quite as beautiful as Tieghan’s the flavor was so full and rich, and I love the process of making different breads, pastries, biscuits and the like from scratch.
We paired this with tiny cheeseburger sliders topped with fried onions, courtesy of my Sous-Chef Phil and three American beers (okay two American beers and one Canadian beer called the American IPA). After dinner I served white-chocolate covered pretzels that were drizzled with red and blue frosting, the mix of sweet and salty was to die for and they were super easy to make. I simply melted the white chocolate with a double boiler on the stove, dipped the pretzels and stored in the fridge until they cooled off.
Lastly, one of the most important parts of the feast was the atmosphere! We used this lovely table cloth, bright white plates, and lit our Grace and Wise GlassyBaby candles. It was the perfect backdrop to connect over food, and show our appreciation for Phil’s parents.
While not being able to celebrate with my parents and sister will always be a bit of a bummer for me, being far away has become mostly normal and I feel so lucky and thankful to have one piece of my family here to celebrate, cook, and be creative with. I am also reminded of how beautifully my life has unfolded over the last couple years and I don’t doubt the choices that have led me here. Instead, I feel courageous and proud to be where I am, even if it means that I give more virtual hugs and have to share my gratitude from 3,000 miles away.