Cottages & Bungalows - - Contents - Jickie Tor­res, Ed­i­tor

I LOOK AT MY TA­BLE AND SMILE CONTENTEDLY AT MY IRONSTONE SERV­ING PIECES. Last month I found a gor­geous footed bowl at the flea mar­ket and was giddy know­ing it com­pleted the col­lec­tion I’d been amass­ing over the years in­tended to be­come my ul­ti­mate Thanks­giv­ing tool kit. De­sign­ing the ta­ble is a cer­e­mony I take se­ri­ously. I’m guilty of fuss­ing and fawn­ing over linens, serv­ing pieces and flower ar­range­ment ideas. I’ve been caught turn­ing to-do lists into di­a­grams, then into small thumb­nails to en­sure I’ve thought of ev­ery­thing I’ll need. It’s prepa­ra­tion be­fit­ting a grand stage pro­duc­tion rather than a fam­ily meal.

Maybe it’s be­cause for an Amer­i­can hol­i­day, our fam­ily Thanks­giv­ings grow­ing up were hardly Nor­man Rock­well af­fairs. We had the turkey and stuff­ing of course, mashed pota­toes, and my Filipino grand­mother had come to make a mean gravy over the years. But there was al­ways an eclec­tic mix of con­tri­bu­tions on the ta­ble: my un­cle’s bone mar­row soup, my hus­band’s fa­mous green chili en­chi­ladas, cheese rolls from our fa­vorite Cuban bak­ery. The ta­ble was scat­tered with alu­minum trays and clamshell con­tain­ers atop the same oil-stained table­cloth we’d used for decades.

So my first time host­ing Thanks­giv­ing it was if I was fi­nally scratch­ing an in­de­scrib­able itch to make Thanks­giv­ing look like it did in the movies. And it sort of does, now. But maybe bet­ter. Gone are the alu­minum tins and clamshells. The bone mar­row soup and en­chi­ladas fill those ironstone pieces in a very sat­is­fy­ing way. Old habits, new ideas, fam­ily recipes, rein­vent­ing the clas­sics—it’s all good. It’s all part of the joy of host­ing and be­ing present in the sea­son.

I’ve al­ways said that fall is when cot­tage liv­ing re­ally blos­soms. Maybe it’s be­cause it’s when fam­ily tra­di­tions feel most pre­served. And while we’re al­ways in the busi­ness of mak­ing things look beau­ti­ful, fall is a time we make sure they feel beau­ti­ful too.

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