By Margaret S. Hamilton
The words and tune of the Victorian hymn “Come ye thankful people come” are with me during the month of November, though instead of harvesting corn, green tomatoes, and pumpkins, I’m raking leaves and disinfecting flower pots.
We’ve lived all over the country, and for many years, celebrated Thanksgiving with only our children and sometimes, friends. Thanksgiving became a movable feast in 2006, when our oldest, a recent college graduate, co-hosted a magnificent holiday dinner with her roommates and their parents in their shared townhouse in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Washington, DC.
Since then, we’ve celebrated many Thanksgivings in Washington, D.C. We have our routine: after running a local turkey trot, we visit to the U.S. Botanical Garden and Conservatory on Capitol Hill, with its fabulous model train exhibit in a terrain constructed entirely of plant material. We pose for our annual family photo in front of the Christmas tree, the transformation from road race to photo-ready always a challenge.
We round off the weekend with trips to the National Gallery and other Smithsonian venues, Eastern Market, and the movies. Two years ago, we attended a showing of “Home Alone” with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. In past years, we’ve braved the Black Friday crowds at the Baltimore Aquarium, Mt. Vernon, the National Arboretum, and Great Falls Park.
Last year, we assembled most of the family in New Orleans for Thanksgiving. Wearing shorts and tee shirts, we cooked a traditional feast of turkey, bread and sausage stuffing, and Louisiana sweet potato casserole. Over the weekend we admired the Christmas decorations in the French Quarter, and visited “Celebration in the Oaks,” a sound and light exhibit in the Botanical Gardens and Storyland in City Park. A narrated Cajun “Night before Christmas” with Pere Noel and his flying alligators was the family favorite. We had brunch at Elizabeth’s in Bywater, explored the nearby waterfront park, and spent the afternoon in Bacchanal courtyard listening to a jazz violin and acoustic guitar concert. Another evening, we enjoyed Parkway Bakery turkey and stuffing po’boys, joining other multi-generational family groups at long picnic tables under a tent.
Every family has different Thanksgiving traditions. What are yours?
Washington D.C. photos with daughters Elizabeth and Julia
New Orleans photos with son Paul, wife Megan, and daughter Julia