This Thanksgiving, gather up the strays and orphans
November 13th, 2012
11:00 AM ET
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Even the most adventurous eaters often give their inner food warrior the day off on Thanksgiving – nothing but the same turkey, stuffing (or dressing!), cranberries, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie they've been eating since childhood. If one of those dishes goes missing, the whole meal just doesn't feel right.

Other families stray away from the standards (some friends of ours have to have collard greens, whiskey sours and banana pudding for the day to feel right, while another family dives into duck) and develop their own must-indulge traditions.

And for some, like our commenter traveldoc, it's less about what's on the table than who's gathered around it.

While living in South Korea, we hosted a "Geographic Orphans' Party" on Thanksgiving. Everyone invited brought either 'what I cannot do without on Thanksgiving', or a traditional food from their country of origin. We supplied the turkey, smashed potatos/sweet potatos/green bean casserole and other 'leaner veggies', plus pumpkin and apple pie. There were about 30 of us in a tiny on-post housing unit, we ate in shifts, and it was the most fun I've had as hostess!

Since returning home, we've continued the party theme, inviting families (or parts of families) who were unable to go 'home' for the holiday, families from Europe who found themselves working at a local business and spoke little or no English, and families of those "on call" at the local hospital. Again, we had tons of fun, with the unbelievable mash-up of cultures!

And always, always, always: Saturday Night's Left-Over Party! Friends who had their own TGiving parties (and some returning guests from our own party) were required to NOT EAT ANY leftovers on Friday, then bring them all to our home on Sat. That way, shoppers were done with crazy Friday rituals, we allowed a small introduction of Christmas into our celebration (sharing fond memories or Christmases past and family traditions, singing a few carols with someone playing piano or children on their instruments), and everyone else's leftovers were brand new foods for the rest of us! Win-win!

Would love to hear other stories of 'different' TGiving Celebrations!

So would we, traveldoc. Please share your Thanksgiving in the comments below, or submit your own "It's not Thanksgiving without..." story on iReport.

Catch up on past installments from Philippe Cousteau, LZ Granderson and Wolf Blitzer

More about Thanksgiving hosting, recipes and sage counsel

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. VladT

    I work in an emergency room, and work both this Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas day. My mom, who is 400 miles away, sister, and grandma will have a nice thanksgiving day, but are planning a second thanksgiving day when I come down in January.

    Until then, my friends and I are planning on a group pot luck

    November 14, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  2. ™©JbJiNg!eŚ®™

    For me it is not Thanksgiving with out my grandmother's sage and onion stuffing, some cooked in and some cooked outside the bird. My husband and I went to New Orleans one year at Thanksgiving and the only dressing/stuffing they had at the restuarant we ate at had oysters in it..never again.

    November 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  3. Frederickk1337

    These idiots make children homeless through welfare reform. Their parents inevitably break the law trying to feed them, because all the illegals have got the jobs, that dont pay shit anyway, nor can you provide your self or children health care in the communist system of oppression. Then they want you to sex traffic and exploit children through feeding programs?!! NO! Bad communist scum and down with your brainwashing torture tactics!

    November 13, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • ™©JbJiNg!eŚ®™

      Whoa...did someone forget their meds today?

      November 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • VladT

      You must be the internet equivalent of the crazy street guy who just yammers on and on to themselves, until they accidentally get roped into a conversation with other

      November 14, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  4. Truth™@Kat

    Great clip and a great ideea. Given that I live 2K miles from the family, I can appreciate what it is to be the "orphan". Nice way of being inclusive.

    November 13, 2012 at 9:34 am |
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