Thanksgiving advice from 5,292 miles away

Categories:sides, turkey

The phone rang about 9 a.m. Central Standard Time.

“Hi, mom,” said Noah. “I have a question about the Chapin dressing. I think I added too much chicken broth. We don’t have measuring cups here.”

Here is an Airbnb in Moscow, which Noah and his friends have rented to celebrate a traditional American Thanksgiving.

“Well, if its too soupy you can add some more bread to it,” I offered.

“Even if it’s been in the oven for 30 minutes?”

No, I think to myself, not if it’s been in the oven for 30  minutes. “Why don’t you just taste it. If it tastes good, just pretend the dressing is supposed to be soupy. None of your friends have ever tasted it so they won’t know anything’s wrong.”

As Julia Child famously said, “Who’s to know?”

A few hours later he sent photos. And reported that the dressing was the first thing to go.

I suspect Noah was the lead organizer of this international group of students celebrating a uniquely American holiday. Noah is becoming an accomplished cook and volunteered to make the turkey, mashed potatoes and dressing.

One of his international friends offered to bring cranberry jelly but was soundly voted down. No, only real cranberries. She found them and produced a spectacular version. Others brought dishes that were decidedly not traditional but maybe will create new traditions.


A blurry photo of the Thanksgiving spread in Moscow. The dressing is on the left next to a tossed salad, definitely a new addition to Noah’s Turkey Day traditions.

And I must report that two of the greatest men in my life who are no longer with us made their presences known. The Chapin dressing has been handed down from generation to generation on my dad’s side of the family so Troy Jr. made it to Moscow. And in our family on Mark’s side, it was traditional that Noah’s grandfather would say the grace before every Thanksgiving meal. Noah said grace today in his honor so Paul Harbin also made it to Moscow.

I got off the phone after that slightly panicked call this morning thinking that while I wish Noah were here, I’m glad he’s there. Learning about sharing cultures and traditions. And knowing that celebrating our differences makes us a global family.


Noah’s international family of friends.


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