The week leading up to our early Canadian Thanksgiving celebration incorporated the usual preparations. I always wonder why I’m tired the day after the dinner. (Hmmmm—why might that be?)

  • Monday: track down fresh turkey. Learn that none are to be had locally, and a trip to Toronto will be necessary. Grit teeth.
  • Tuesday: Grocery shop for root vegetables and ingredients for chutney, stuffing and baked goods
  • Wednesday: Make Cranberry Chutney (put in fridge) and Sausage Stuffing (put in freezer)
  • Thursday: Make Pumpkin Cupcakes (put in freezer)
  • Friday: Drive three hours to procure cheeses and fresh turkey; make Pumpkin Pie with No-Roll Crust
  • Saturday: Set the table, frost the cupcakes, prepare the vegetables, prepare the turkey, roast said turkey, roast heirloom carrots and Brussels sprouts with pancetta; boil potatoes; steam cauliflower and green beans; make cheese sauce and gravy. Serve and enjoy!

My most disliked aspect of the prep is undoubtedly the turkey: remove the neck and gizzards, rinse, dry, and salt, and fill the cavities with chopped fresh onion, carrots, and celery before bringing the whole shebang to room temperature to roast. Sounds perfectly straightforward, doesn’t it? But there is just something about wrestling the cold, wobbly, wet, ungainly bird, which slips and slides all over the place, that I find deeply distasteful. I’m always thankful when it’s plopped into the rack in the roasting pan and finally makes its way into the oven.

My favourite part of the whole preparation? No surprise to anyone, I’m sure; it’s definitely planning and setting the table!

This year, we were twelve for dinner. When I began gathering items to set the table, I discovered I had only ten salad plates and eleven dinner plates in the Gien Solonge pattern. So I set the table for ten to take the photographs and then added two more place settings, supplementing with Mason’s Game Birds Brown Multicolored (table featured in Entertablement Autumn Seasonal Quarterly).

Gien Sologne is a lovely pattern, which I used before for our 2017 Thanksgiving dinner here.

This time, I employed the same tablecloth I used for the Robert Burns Scotch Tasting Dinner.

I employed my oft-used motley collection of stemmed amber Depression glasses and paired them with Pier One tortoiseshell water tumblers.

I filled the centre of the table with faux pumpkins in various textures and finishes: painted, gilded, wooden and stuffed velvet. Bundles of wheat added some height. I tucked the occasional autumn figurine in as well.

Tree slice chargers are fairly compact and allow for a good number of place settings side by side. We were able to add one more on each side after the photos were taken. It was a bit tight, but no one seemed to mind.

There are many different salad/dessert plates in the pattern. These are the six I purchased initially.

Then, they added four more when they came out a few years later

That explained the ten, I realized.

The dinner plates are all the same. I like how the soft brown and grey leaves surround the rim.

I remember getting just one from Replacements to see how much I liked it “in person” and then adding another ten as I accumulated the salad/dessert plates.

Gien has since brought out four more salad/dessert plates—pairs of animal babies. They might make a very lovely Christmas gift (hint, hint). That would take us up to fourteen!

It’s better to be adding place settings to a family table than taking them away, no?

We managed to get the family photo in good light this year. It was a bit cloudy, so perfect.

It proved beyond my patience to try and incorporate all five dogs—our three golden retrievers, daughter Lauren’s German Shepherd and daughter Kirsten’s Shepherd mix—into the family photo. So Kirsten and Lauren coaxed them into posing for their own shot; from left to right: Marigold, Bailey, Spencer, Churchill and Rabbit.

Coralling the granddaughters was much more straightforward—no bribing with treats required.

Things have changed a little in six years.

And even more in nine and a half! I know it’s a cliché, but where does the time go?

One last look at the Thanksgiving 2023 table:

Have a lovely weekend, all.