Thanksgiving Made Easy for a Single Visually Impaired Hostess

Thanksgiving dinner. Roasted turkey on holiday table with pumpkins, candles, and fruit

Most Interesting Thanksgiving Memory

No smoking and no football. Those were the ground rules I had laid down for my Thanksgiving dinner in 1992. Everybody has a favorite Thanksgiving memory and a worst Thanksgiving memory, but here’s my most interesting one, and well, maybe the most fun. Newly divorced, I decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner for my single friends who had no other plans for the day. There were 11 of us that first year. No two people knew each other because I invited friends from different parts of my life. One was a coworker. One was a bicycling friend. One was my massage therapist. You get the idea.

Setting the Menu

After each invitation, I asked, "What is it that you have to have to make it a Thanksgiving dinner?" "Pumpkin pie? Good. You bring the pumpkin pie. Sweet potatoes? Okay. You bring the sweet potatoes. Collard greens? Seriously? Okay, then you bring the collard greens." I cooked the turkey, only because it made sense to use my oven.

It’s Not About the Food

I am one of the very few Americans who doesn’t like Thanksgiving food. I can eat a little bit of turkey on the day, but then that’s it for a year. I have never learned to like sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie, so it’s not about the food for me. What I do like is gathering around a table with family and friends and spending the rest of the afternoon playing games, going for a walk, and playing music together. Notice I did not mention taking a nap on the couch or watching a football game on TV. I had had enough of scheduling dinner for half time, ever since I was a little girl, so the last thing I wanted was the background noise of men bashing into each other and beer commercials. Two of the people I invited were smokers, but they observed my no smoking rule by going outside to smoke. They only went out for a cigarette twice that day because it happened to be extremely cold. I like to think I helped their lungs a little with my no smoking rule.

The Cleanup

After dinner, four or five of us went for a walk around the neighborhood while the rest of them cleaned up the kitchen. What a deal! One of the women loved to make turkey soup with the turkey bones, so I showed her where the aluminum foil was and happily handed the carcass over to her. Then we carried the disposable pan out to the garbage and voila. The messiest part of the cleanup was over. I wanted no leftovers, so everybody was instructed to take their dishes home. The next biggest hassle was over. I had set up the patio table in the living room for the extra five people who couldn’t fit around my small kitchen table, so the guys carried it back out onto the patio. The living room was cleared. We spent the rest of the day with two of my favorite games, Encore, a singing game, and Scrabble. A few days later, I received a thank-you note from one of the smokers. "I wasn’t sure about coming since you said no smoking and no football," he wrote, "because I didn’t think I could get through the day without either one, but it was the nicest Thanksgiving I’ve ever had."

Now for Your Invitation

If I were to invite you to my house for Thanksgiving, dear peers, what would you bring? It’s okay if you duplicate what I’ve already mentioned. This imaginary group is going to be pretty big, so we’ll need a lot of food. We might have to set some dishes on top of the piano and the stereo. And some of us might have to sit outside because my house is small. But we won’t mind. It’s not about the eating, but the camaraderie and the feelings of fellowship and sharing. Now, don’t just stand there at the door. Come on in. What’s that you brought? Oh yum yum. My favorites. Check out what the other peer advisors brought along with the recipes for them!