144 thoughts on “Thursday open thread

  1. DD#2 comes home tomorrow and will get a test here on Tuesday, with results arriving as late as Thursday – assuming they send out results on the holiday. DD#1 does not come home until 12/2 and will get a test here the following Sunday or Monday, depending on what is available. Given this timeline, I am planning to prepare a small boneless turkey breast, mashed potatoes (DD#2 says the mashed potatoes at school are inedible), and some veg yet to be determined. It will be more of a regular dinner than a holiday dinner. We will have a single “feast” at Christmas for our foursome, by which time we should all be able to be within 6 ft unmasked.

    I would say green bean casserole is a thing here. My family members aren’t keen about the fried onions on top, so we sometimes alternate with other preparations.

  2. Fingers crossed—this might be the year we can go home for Christmas. My son would be so happy, and the way my dad is slipping, we’re both finding it important to see him. I’m not ready to talk here about details on this end, but would appreciate help with that end:
    Are Covid tests available in airports?
    Is 2 days of isolation sufficient wait to get Covid results back?
    What safety measures are airlines using for transatlantic flights?
    “ domestic flights?

    My son’s last day of school is the 15th. I’d like to fly that night or the next day, spend a week in Florida cleaning out the storage locker, then fly to my parents, get Covid tests (at the airport, if CMH has them) , pick up a beer fridge and food at Target, and spend a couple days in their basement. It has a separate entrance, and I’d ask them to leave the coffee maker and electric skillet there for us to use.

    Any information or suggestions to improve this plan would be very welcome. My son’s classes start again Jan 6; we could do the Florida part after Ohio, but rates are higher then. If we can get that part over with before going to celebrate, it would let us really relax and enjoy the holiday, but of course I we would want to make sure my parents are safe—we want to see them before they die, not bring death to them.

    Your thoughts?

  3. Huh. I’ve lived and worked in 4 of the yellow states and have never heard anyone mention mac and cheese as a side at Thanksgiving dinner.

    Our extended family is not having its usual 3 state thanksgiving gathering at one of my brothers’ homes so I’ll be cooking for the first time in many years. It will just be us with DS1 and DS3, so very low key, and I’m going to roast a couple of chickens instead of a turkey. We like chicken better. We’ll make pumpkin pie, dressing, mashed potatoes, and some yet to be decided veggie. We will have canned cranberry sauce with the rings imprinted, as everyone should.

  4. No idea whether stuffing is really the NY favorite. It’s mine.

    We were hoping to have 7 at the table, incl. 2 GFs, but DS1 has to work on black Friday so that’ll cut us down to 5. We’re doing our traditional + some other stuff tbd since the one GF is vegan.

    As I’ve related before, she just is. Not for any food allergy reasons, she just likes it better that way. And she’s not preachy about it, or difficult about finding stuff she that fits the vegan diet. Just the way it is. For me, limited impact and for what? Maybe a week’s worth of days across a year? Maybe more if they stick together and we end up living near each other. I can deal/adapt, though she’s (or DS as proxy) has never made that request.

  5. It’s just going to be the four of us for Thanksgiving. I didn’t want to do a turkey — I figured I could just roast a chicken instead. But DH really wanted one, so we’re getting one. And doing the usual simple sides (mashed potatoes, peas, and squash), and the usual dessert (apple pie). The kids like to have corn muffins, so I will deputize them to make those. I feel like my heart’s not in it this year, but maybe once the table is set all nicely it will feel somewhat festive.

    I used to love stuffing, but since going gluten-free, I have given up on making it. In all these years I have still not found a decent GF bread. I have found good substitutes for pretty much everything else (flour, pasta, etc.), but not bread.

  6. Putting up Christmas decorations today. This is the first year that I’m doing it before Thanksgiving, but it feels appropriate.

  7. Same, HFN. I’ve lived in 3 of the yellow states and never seen mac and cheese as a Thanksgiving side.

    We are heading to the beach for Thanksgiving. It will probably be just the 4 of us, although there is a slim chance that my sister and her husband and toddler will join us. No gathering with the big extended family and no seeing grandparents. We are going to fry a turkey as we always do, and I already ordered sides from one of our favorite take out places (mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, gravy, pie). I’ll have enough if she joins, and more leftovers if she doesn’t. Might be the easiest Thanksgiving ever.

  8. NOB–I’ve done a turkey breast before for smaller Thanksgivings…

    We are having ham, green bean casserole, roasted brussel sprouts, rolls, and pecan pie for our small(er) celebration.

  9. Its usually just the four of us anyway so no different. We are having a friend come over who is unable to go see her family, she’s in our bubble already. We always do the full traditional meal.

    Candied sweet potatoes are far and away the best side dish.

  10. I do very much enjoy mashed potatoes – especially with homemade turkey gravy. I could do without turkey and sweet potatoes. I like sweet potatoes – baked or roasted – but I have never had a sweet potato casserole that I cared for. I have never had green bean casserole – not part of either of our family tables.

    MIL has hosted the traditional dinner for years, but cancelled the gathering this year. We are doing a zoom meeting which will include all the out-of-towners (including the brother stationed overseas), and DH hired an MC/bar trivia guy to do some family games/trivia. I have a feeling it might end up being nicer in some ways from the usual big gathering as it has been years since everyone was able to be together anyway.

    So, as I mentioned earlier, this is my first year attempting to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner – for the 3 of us plus single BIL who lives alone in our neighborhood. DH really wants a full turkey with lots of leftovers, so I will oblige. I’m cutting back on sides to all the things I really like plus DH’s family dressing recipe that I dislike and DH loves.

  11. Fred, maybe she’d like stuffing made with veggie bullion and not cooked in the bird, or meat-free gravy to put on her mashed potatoes. Or nut loaf, which some people think is good, but I’ve heard others think it’s a joke. Enjoy the gathering!

  12. The one year I spent Thanksgiving in NC at a friend’s family gathering, there was mac-n-cheese. And it was fantastic! I will be adding that to our table this year. I think it is pretty common around here with Black families.

    One year, I happened to be in our Dallas office when they had their Thanksgiving potluck. I will say – I am not generally a big potluck person – but this was AMAZING. There was smoked turkey, deep fried turkey, and ham. And along with lots of takes on the traditional side – a table full of crockpots with queso and another with a table full of mac-n-cheese. And Dr Pepper. God Bless Texas!

  13. Stuffing is my favorite. It is interesting to hear what traditional foods people have. We always have green bean casserole (Michigan), and I had to laugh when NoB wrote that the Peas are a usual side. I don’t think I’ve ever seen peas at Thanksgiving. Same with cornbread. We just have rolls.

    My understanding is that mac and cheese is a very common side dish in the black community. Growing up my mom my mom worked on Thanksgiving. I have many memories of having Turkey Dinner with her at the hospital dining room or going with my dad and brother to the Elks for a Thanksgiving buffet. The food wasn’t as good, but I loved getting mac and cheese with dinner.

  14. I use an oil-free fryer for the turkey and it is awesome – tastes great and very easy

    My Dad did this last year and it was very good but definitely not the same. Much less mess though!

    @ NoB – what about a cornbread dressing? Would that be GF?

  15. “I had to laugh when NoB wrote that the Peas are a usual side.”

    Lemon Tree — I don’t like green beans, so when I started being responsible for Thanksgiving dinner, I made the executive decision that the green on the table would be peas, which I do like.

  16. Tday is always just us. We always invite anyone who doesn’t have a table to join to join ours. We were taken in when we first moved to RI, so I always pay it forward. My table gets super full and loud and we love it. This year, I asked my boss if he wants to join. He may go see his mom, but if he can’t because of COVID rules, I told him a place would be waiting at our table.

    We’ll have turkey breast, maybe legs if I can find them for DH. We’ll use a maple whiskey brine. Plus a cranberry relish recipe with other berries and bourbon, some sort of potato, honey glazed carrots, and maybe something green. Not sure. I may make actual dinner rolls this year since I’ll be WFH next week. And I have to figure out dessert – Dutch apple pie? pumpkin muffins? (I don’t feel like a whole pie this year). Just not sure.

    Maybe we’ll eat earlier this year too… Or just eat all day long…

  17. I agree: mac and cheese is possibly my favorite food in the world (at least tied with chocolate pudding), but I have never once seen it at Thanksgiving. However, I cannot pick a favorite T-day side, because the point is ALL of them together.

    We are going all-out this year, because I just want something to enjoy. I have a Willie Bird turkey coming, and a porchetta has arrived and is in the garage fridge. We will have stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes (the kind with marshmallows on top, but only on half, because silly people think it’s wrong), corn casserole, oyster casserole, two kinds of cranberry sauce (the fancy stuff my mom makes, and the right version from the can with the lines on it), gravy, and of course my pie. And who knows what other people may want to bring (hmm, maybe my friend will bring her chocolate chip challah, which absolutely rocks!). I am still debating whether to attempt a trash can turkey or just use my now-functional ovens.

    We will have 13 people as of now, and the current plan is to put card tables out on the front porch, so people can sit in family groups but still see/talk to others, and to eat in the afternoon, when we that area gets nice sun. We also going to open all the windows and doors in the house and put heaters on for people who want/need to stay inside. We are going to be limiting the hanging-out part, unfortunately, but I’d rather keep something than foresake it entirely.

    Have I mentioned that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday? ;-)

  18. Thanksgiving will just be the four of us this year. We are following our usual tradition of ordering a meal from a local upscale grocery store. I used to cook the whole meal from scratch. That ended when DD was 5 and DS was a baby and I had to cook the whole thing holding a 4 month baby. I do make a couple additional pies plus candied sweet potatoes.

    I’ve noticed a lot of places (both grocery stores and restaurants offering take-home meals) selling out this year. I was going to downsize our order but it was already sold out when I went to place it. So I went with the regular size (which has since sold out). Lots of leftovers!

  19. S&M – availability and speed of testing varies considerably depending on what city or State you are in. So I think you’d need to look at the specific places you are interested in going to. Two days turnaround time seems optimistic. I know in some places having to wait a week is not uncommon. I haven’t heard of COVID tests being available in airports – but again, you’d want to check into the airports you’d be using.

  20. The turkey supply chain is apparently aflutter because of changing Thanksgiving plans this year. Growers can’t stop the birds from growing, people aren’t ordering the big ones, and slaughtering them early and selling them frozen would mean a big loss.
    The U.S.’s 2,500 turkey farms are struggling to adapt to these changes in demand. Many will be unable to accommodate requests for smaller turkeys and face being left with a surplus of larger, unwanted birds.

    It’s impossible to predict the extent to which coronavirus will re-shape consumer behavior this Thanksgiving. The turkey supply chain must adapt as best it can and have hope that enough Americans will stick to tradition and enjoy a hearty portion of turkey this November
    https://www.thomasnet.com/insights/how-are-smaller-thanksgiving-gatherings-threatening-the-turkey-supply-chain/

  21. SSM, thank you. It helps to know that 2 days sounds fast. I’ll will have to look into what’s possible at CMH (unless someone here knows)

  22. Mac and Cheese – my African American colleague always has Mac and Cheese at Thanksgiving. That’s her signature dish. She also does collard greens, corn bread and other sides.
    I do think of Mac and Cheese, collard greens, corn bread as more Southern. Less mention is made of things like green bean casserole or cranberry relish. Turkey is usually not baked in the oven, maybe fried. I see cans of peanut oil appearing in my grocery store which are not there at other times of year.

  23. BTW, there is nothing on John Glenn airport’s site; I used their contact form to ask about tests at the airport, hope they reply, still need to figure out airlines.

  24. “The U.S.’s 2,500 turkey farms are struggling to adapt to these changes in demand. Many will be unable to accommodate requests for smaller turkeys and face being left with a surplus of larger, unwanted birds.”

    The regional differences are strange. Our grocery stores, Costco, and Sams are awash in 12 lb. turkeys. I have been conscious of it after hearing reports like that one.

    Someone mentioned not being able to find Lysol toilet bowl cleaner, and I saw tons of it at my Costco this morning. But paper towels? It might as well be April on that front.

  25. As people were mentioning they had never heard of mac and cheese at Thanksgiving I was thinking, “Well, I know which Totebaggers aren’t African American!”

    We will do Thanksgiving as best we can given a. Thanksgiving isn’t a thing here and b. we’re under government lockdown. We managed to get a package of stuffing and 2 cans of pumpkin, both of which are not readily available here. I don’t think we’ll do a turkey, which is also difficult and expensive to come by. Maybe a goose or chicken. Also, we will probably have our meal on Saturday since I’ll be working Thursday and Friday.

  26. This is the first time in my life I have done Thanksgiving, except for my junior year in college when I made spaghetti with my boyfriend who was from Naples so he was showing me how Neapolitans make it. Kids all immediately said “no turkey!”. I wanted a celebratory bird, though, so duck it will be. Probably with wild rice and some veggies. DS1 said that I am required to make the red cabbage/bacon dish that I usually take to the big Thanksgiving so we will have that for sure.

  27. We are having about 20 people this year, although that numbers may change depending on how people are feeling about their risk factors. I have one brother with asthma, he is the one I am concerned about, but I’m not going to tell him what to do. I haven’t been able to do that for that last fifty years, I don’t know that now is any different. My SIL’s parents may come, depending on their risk tolerance. SIL doesn’t want them to be alone, if they don’t want to be.

    My daughters are getting tested before they come home. DD2 has been tested every week, as have the other kids who live on campus. DD1 has been tested twice in the last two weeks, necessary before she goes on campus.

    DS is getting his wisdom teeth out tomorrow. I was surprised they didn’t require a test before that procedure. For all my talk, the kids pointed out that I go days on end without leaving the ranch and even then everyone is masked up.

    I intend on opening most of the windows and blasting the heat to have both ventilation and some manner of comfort. Some of the games will be outside, and the house is huge. We will be spread out.

    We are having samosas for appetizers, two turkeys (regular and halal), if anyone has suggestions about cooking a halal turkey, I’d appreciate them. My usual method of covering the turkey with bacon is a nonstarter. Sausage stuffing and vegetarian stuffing. Mashed potatoes and gravies. Fresh yeast rolls. One SIL is bringing candied sweet potatoes, another is bringing pies. I need to assign someone a vegetable dish.

    I need to come up with assignments for two nieces and a nephew.

    DS is the only child and DD2 is the only one under 21. It’s still odd to consider that everyone grew up.

  28. Mac n’ cheese at Thanksgiving is a southern thing, and also a black thing. I got into a discussion about it once with several people who were black, from NYC, and they all said they had never encountered Thanksgiving without mac n’ cheese.
    Another person in that same discussion was a Chinese guy. He had lived here for about 15 years and has kids. He said he and his wife tried to do a turkey a few years ago, got a fresh bird home, and started wondering what to do with all that meat. So he said, they butchered it down into parts, cooked a little, and froze the rest. He said they never did turkey again

  29. We are planning on having DH’s parents, who have quarantined (ACTUAL QUARANTINE NOT LEAVING THE HOUSE) for 2 weeks, but I’m going to have to have DH call them again and go thru what they have been doing to make sure they have actually not left the house. We were also planning on having my BIL, SIL, and their kids, but they had an exposure at school a couple weeks ago, so that is up in the air and we’re going to call them again this weekend to see if they have all been tested, how long it has actually been, etc. I’m not comfortable with having them come unless it has been 2+ weeks and they have all been tested.

    My favorite side is candied sweet potatoes (brown sugar, butter, NOT marshmallows). We have green beans not in casserole (I don’t care for those creamy casseroles), but I do them with garlic rather than the WASP version I had growing up (steamed, overcooked, no flavorings). I also like plain stuffing (just bread, butter, parsley, onion, chicken broth and baked so it’s crispier) rather than the soggy stuff with sausage or what have you. I have dropped the squash side dish since no one really likes squash in my family and cutting it up is murder on my wrists. (The precut kind always gets yucky before you can use it) We have added brussels sprouts with bacon, olive oil, and maple syrup, since everyone loves those, and also mac and cheese, which my other BIL brought into the family (he is from GA), if we don’t have the dairy-allergic member of the family here.

  30. Cassandra, my kid had extensive dental work – reconstructive work – done in October and did not need a COVID test in advance.

  31. Oh, and no mashed potatoes, only sweet potatoes. How many starches do you need???? I don’t really care for mashed potatoes anyway.

  32. Broccoli casserole for KY??? Nah. It should be green beans cooked to death with a lot of bacon. Or maybe pimento cheese balls.

  33. “The pie here is pecan pie, I hardly hear anyone mention apple pie.”

    Complete opposite here. Pumpkin and apple pies for us. We’re also having duck, not turkey. Everyone just likes it better and there’s only the 4 of us.

    Fred – I usually make a big batch of stuffing – apples, sausage – Joy of Cooking recipe – and then when that runs out (usually by Saturday) I make another batch. DS2 often asks for it throughout the year.

  34. I will be making pineapple upside down cake. I saw the recipe in a magazine with holiday desserts. My family doesn’t like pie, so that is an acceptable substitute for me. We don’t have the pressure of anyone saying – we always had such and such for Thanksgiving

    I see DD having a Thanksgiving in adulthood she thinks she ought to have had growing up, but didn’t.

  35. I like pumpkin and pecan pie best, but also apple pie. My FIL likes lemon meringue pie so I’ll need to make that too.

  36. “We don’t have the pressure of anyone saying – we always had such and such for Thanksgiving”

    The answer to that is, “That’s right, you can bring it”

  37. So I notice some of your kids are getting tested. We have a mini-crisis over this… DS2 has been notified that if he dares go anywhere for Thanksgiving, he will need COVID test before being allowed back in the dorm, and he will still have to quarantine for 3 days and then get another test. This is true even for kids who just head to Brooklyn or Queens. In addition, if he leaves for under 24 hours, he will have to get a COVID test within 4 days. He is interpreting that to mean he can’t even leave to go to a store. This is in place for all CUNY residence halls. They also all have to get a COVID test early next week, but that is in place whether or not they travel, and CUNY is sending people to each dorm to do those tests.
    So now he is totally panicked. He won’t come home unless I can make an appointment in advance for a test, so he can be sure of getting one. But I can’t find anyplace that will do appointments unless you are symptomatic or have a confirmed (call from contact tracer) exposure. I told him that maybe he could just go back a couple of days late, because I think it might be easier to find a test location in the early part of the week after Thanksgiving. His classes are remote so it doesn’t much matter. But he doesn’t want to do that. So sadly, he may just end up sitting by himself in a dorm room, afraid to even leave to get food. They are having a dorm meeting tonight to go over the policy, so maybe he will calm down a little after that.

    Oldest kid does not have any requirement at all to do testing, although their website encourages them to get tested before they leave — and the school does have its own testing lab.

    So we may be making duck for 4 rather than duck for 5.

  38. Mooshi, aren’t those green beans with bacon a typical KY side dish that happens all the time, year round, rather than a special thing for Thanksgiving? I never did understand why they had to screw up something so simple that a vegetarian might think she could eat it.

    On my travel question–I also need help with airlines, please. We usually go by schedule and price. This time I want to look at seating and mask requirements (preference for leaving vacant seats between passengers and being serious about masks the whole flight). Has anyone flown recently, or are there good sites for this kind of thing?

  39. SM – Hopefully this image will show up. Assume your date of travel is your exposure date. Those who are taking the most precautions are isolating at home (before they travel for 7-14 days) and then isolating when they get to their destination (again 7-14 days).

    No tests in airports that I am aware of. Check the state(s) COVID dashboard and the county/city you are going to. Today, my city moved to Stage 4 where high risk individuals should avoid groups larger than 2, limit trips to essential only (including travel). Also, tests are not free everywhere – especially if you have not been exposed to a person known to have COVID or symptoms or have symptoms yourself. The cost can be up to $300 per test here if you are paying out of pocket.

    IMO, you should go to Florida first and use those 7 days to have the least contact you can with anyone but your son. You need to wait a few days after arriving to get tested to know if you caught it during travel. Are you planning to get tested before you leave?

    We are having our DDs test before they leave their college towns, then 3-4 days after they travel home. In the meantime, we are all masking around each other, social distancing as much as we can, and isolating SO as he is the highest risk and the WORST about social distancing and mask wearing. When all the tests come back negative, we will consider ourselves a bubble again.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/pUMXxvQ9nY6kPMwW8

  40. I’ve only been to a handful of different families for Thanksgiving and but one family served mac and cheese as a side. I never thought about it because they all serve mac and cheese, and i ignore it because I hate cheese. All Jewish folks in the NY metro region. I really like turkey, but there are plenty of turkey haters that seem to love the mac and cheese.

    This is the first year that I am making Thanksgiving and it will just be us because my parents are concerned about the slightly higher rates. Too cold to be outside. We usually go to DH family and they have 30-40 people or my mom’s family and she has 20. DD was sick last year so she was home with DH so they are bummed to miss again this year.

    I ordered a precooked breast from Whole Foods and I will make the sides. It is easy to make most of the sides..We all like stuffing so I am not surprised about the results, but I don’t know many people that are going to say that any vegetable is their favorite side compared to a potato/roll/stuffing. We are going to have mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, vegetarian stuffing, roasted string beans, cranberry sauce and brownies and apple pie. Appetizers include pigs in blanket and crudités, crackers.

  41. I like bread stuffing but not the sausage kind. Kids told me they all hate stuffing (they only ever encounter it at Thanksgiving) and DH doesn’t care one way or another so we aren’t doing stuffing.

  42. We are driving to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving. We have not seen my parents in person since last Christmas. DH cancelled his planned trip to see his brother earlier this month because BIL was without power for 10 days following an ice storm. So, we are driving to BIL’s and dropping off DH (but not going in) then the kids and I are driving another two hours to my parents. My brother is flying in, as well. We will get the rapid Covid test the day before we go. Other than science labs, my kids have stayed home for what will be two weeks before we leave. I feel like we are being as safe as we can. My dad’s health continues to be a concern, and they will move to an independent living facility in a couple of months. So we will help do what we can to clear stuff out while we’re there. They’ve lived there for 42 years, so there is work to do. My mom mentions how happy she is that we are coming every single day, so I’m glad we are doing it.

    I’ve convinced my mom not to cook, but I will make corn casserole (with the Jiffy cornbread mix), because that’s my dad’s favorite. My favorite holiday food memory is the jello mold. It was my sister’s task, never set right, was always kind of sad and not quite formed and used to make me laugh until I cried every time it hit the table.

  43. “DH hired an MC/bar trivia guy”

    What a great idea! I’m still toying with playing Zoom games but tbh people seem to like to spend the whole time gabbing.

    You all have given me the idea that maybe we could do chicken instead of turkey. Since it will only be our immediate family we’ll stick to our favorites. That probably means cornbread sausage stuffing, simple green beans, but no sweet potatoes. Definitely mashed potatoes with lots of gravy. My D has already promised a pie or two to some friends, so I’ll make at least two praline pumpkin pies, with homemade crust I learned from my totebag friends. If I’m feeling ambisitous I’d like to try this beautiful Brussel sprouts with butternut squash dish from The Pioneer Woman.

  44. “I never did understand why they had to screw up something so simple that a vegetarian might think she could eat it.”

    Or as I would say it, thank God they found a way to make a vegetable taste *good*. ;-)

  45. Pineapple upside cake sounds awesome. It is traditional in our family to have pineapple at holidays. Hmmm….maybe I could incorporate that and see if the brothers notice.

  46. The airlines state on their web site which seats are open. Just go to Delta, United, American, Jet Blue and Southwest. As of today, United and American are not blocking the middle seat. Delta and Jet Blue are not selling it. You seem to have a bunch of time for the internet, so it seems wiser to go straight to the source and check the airline sites. https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/what-to-expect.html?campaign_type=cce#safe-travels-with-science

    Every airport web site also has a section about whether they provide a test in the terminal upon arrival. Even within each airport, the testing isn’t consistent across terminals. Also, some testing is optional and some is mandatory. You an look today, but it might be very different a month from now when you arrive in the US.

  47. My family doesn’t like pie,

    I understand each word individually but taken together they make no sense.

    Pecan, apple, mud, coconut cream, blueberry, lemon meringue, peach… none of them?!?

  48. Cassandra – there is halal bacon…where we live there are 5-6 stores within 2 miles that sell it. Beef bacon, not pork bacon.

  49. One of my potluck and t-day staples is a sweet potato-lime-coconut dish. Basically, boiled sweet potatoes tossed into the food processor, then mixed with 1/4 cup lime juice and a tablespoon of zest and a can of coconut milk. Eat like that, or place in casserole dish, top with dry unsweetened coconut and lime zest and warm up in the oven until coconut toasted.

    It’s quite lovely, but the real winning part is that it is vegan, gluten free, allergy-friendly, paleo. It fits basically every diet restriction except low-carb (and the “I hate sweet potato people”).

  50. My Dad did this last year and it was very good but definitely not the same. Much less mess though!

    No it’s not the same as actually deep frying it because the oil is a big part of the taste. But it’s so much easier and still better than baking it in the oven.

  51. We are hosting a big t-day next Friday. I’ve placed a sign up at work with a list of suggested American favorites. People are enthusiastic and horrified: marshmallows on sweet potatoes? Pumpkin pie? green bean casserole?

    I’ve purchased two turkeys, mostly for ambiance. 3.75kg at $47 each.

    Things we can’t get here: jiffy corn bread mix, cranberries, canned pumpkin, poultry seasoning. There is a local sweet potato (kumara) that will hopefully make do, and I have been busy making pumpkin puree from scratch (which I think is a lot of work for a similar product). I was quite joyful to find “fried shallots” in the foreign food section (near the bbq sauce and the baked cheetos).

    We do have jell-o (or jelly, as it’s called, very confusing) mix and my kids asked for a vegetable jello mold, so I know I have raised them right. I think it will be carrot/orange, lime/celery, and red/cucumber.

  52. Austin, yes, I could pull up the graphic. Thanks. You seem to be assuming the danger is here. It is everywhere, of course, but my main concern is the plane. Here we can and do stay at home the vast majority of the time (though that will change for me in Jan and my son goes to school now) and control the air we breath by wearing masks, opening windows (including on trains), moving away from people who don’t wear masks when we do go out. None of the above (aside from our own masks) is true on the plane, so I was thinking we’d need to get tested after flying.
    Anon, I have had time, but now suddenly have a lot I need to get done in not very much time. There is a lot entailed in us being able to travel, and the second step is in the works. That’s all I’m saying about what’s happening here that makes this a possibility. If there’s a website that has good, up-to-date info on practices at all the airlines, domestic and overseas, then I don’t have to go through each airline or the web’s jillion travel sites one by one.

    It’s interesting to hear people’s plans to travel to visit family, or have kids come home.

    Mooshi, I don’t know if there is a “cancer survivor” card to play, but if there is, this sounds like a good time for DS 2 to pull it out, so he can get tested after Thanksgiving with family.

  53. Ada, if there are African shops there, check them for sweet potatoes. Cornbread is really easy to make, and if you can only find polenta in local stores, there are lots of recipes online for substituting polenta for cornmeal.

  54. “People are enthusiastic and horrified: marshmallows on sweet potatoes? Pumpkin pie? green bean casserole?:

    I’m in the minority here, but I don’t like marshmallows on my sweet potatoes either. They are sweet enough. Pie – heathens. The casserole? I can leave that out too.

    But if it were up to my mom and I (and we had the energy this year), we’d be making homemade raviolis. So we’re not exactly the most traditional Tday house….

  55. I have made Cornish game hens – one for each person when we were just the four of us. A suggestion if you are looking at a smaller dinner this year.

  56. ” I have been busy making pumpkin puree from scratch (which I think is a lot of work for a similar product”

    Making pumpkin puree from scratch is a pain. I did it once and then switched back to using Libby’s canned pumpkin.

  57. S & M,

    https://thepointsguy.com/coronavirus/
    https://thepointsguy.com/guide/airline-social-distancing-policies/
    https://thepointsguy.com/news/spotlight-on-safety-airlines/

    I haven’t flown, but the airlines don’t seem to be the source of spread due to the systems in place in the airplane. Also, seems like most are strictly enforcing the wearing of a face covering. If it were me, I would try to fly on one of the airlines that doesn’t sell the middle seat.

  58. Thanks Lauen. I asked the admins to delete our recent exchange on here, because I realized it contained info that probably doesn’t need to be floating around on the internet, but I’m sure you can guess what’s going on. We are both excited.

  59. If you can find butternut squash, that can be a substitute for pumpkin. I’m not entirely sure this is true, but I’ve heard that canned pumpkin is actually butternut squash.

  60. DS would have loved it if we’d had mac n cheese as a side dish on Thanksgiving. A Facebook memory from when DS was in kindergarten just popped up. The kids had to draw pictures of traditional Thanksgiving foods – it was a little booklet with maybe 6 pages. DS drew a pizza on every single page. The only parts of the Thanksgiving meal he liked were the rolls and the apple pie. His tastes have expanded a bit since then (though he’s still a “(pickatarian”) so there’s more food he likes. But I think I’ll see if he’d like a side of mac n cheese.

  61. Oh, and no mashed potatoes, only sweet potatoes. How many starches do you need????

    My grandmother used to make family dinners with five different kinds of potatoes because she had to make everyone their favorite.

  62. I’m in the minority here, but I don’t like marshmallows on my sweet potatoes either.

    Me neither. Of course mine have pounds of brown sugar on them :)

    SM, IMO the flight is the safest part of the journey. When I’ve flown this year, I’ve been more concerned about the airports.

  63. SM first you’re worried about exposure on the flight then getting tested in the airport won’t do anything for you. It’s my understanding that if infected, you wouldn’t get a positive test result for at least 48 hours. The tests are most accurate 5 days after exposure.

  64. SM – I feel that I go from being “prudently cautious” to “paranoid” on a regular basis. Honestly, traveling to the US right now is risky and you might double check that you can go back home when your trip is over.

    I assume COVID is everywhere, but as you say, there are times when you have less control over your environment or the ability to get away from others. What I was assuming is that you are treating your travel day to the US as your “abnormal” day and most likely day of exposure to base your testing on. You need 3-5 days after your exposure for anything to show up on the test. So, if you travel on day 1 and test on day 4, get results back day 6, then travel to parents day 7 (assuming a negative test) you can keep your planned schedule. Of course, you could be exposed on the trip from Florida to Ohio (parents’ location). If you are concerned about your parents, while doing all the other things wear masks when you are around them, try to social distance inside, eat outside or socially distanced, etc.

  65. I do not like marshmallows on sweet potatoes. The first time I ever saw it, when I was kid at a Thanksgiving gathering in KY (friends of my parents), my eyes nearly popped out of my head. I couldn’t even imagine why those marshmallows were sitting there.
    I love sweet potatoes absolutely drenched in butter. Yum

  66. Our sweet potatoes are drenched in butter and brown sugar with a pecan topping. It’s really a sweet potato pie without the pie crust.

    Ada, keep us posted on your international feast!

  67. “there is halal bacon…where we live there are 5-6 stores within 2 miles that sell it. Beef bacon, not pork bacon.”

    No idea if it’s halal or not, but we often buy turkey bacon from Costco.

  68. It’ll just be 3 here, because one DS has a job with lots of contact that’s too risky for DH. But, we’ll be making up some to-go sides for nearby close family. In talking with the attending-DS son and getting just the 3 of happy with what makes it Thanskgiving, we’re having stuffing, mashed potatoes, strawberry pretzel jello salad, mac and cheese, rolls, and probably two pies. I got a turkey breast – so much easier to deal with in the oven. I may have two ice makers, but drats, only one oven. Our stuffing is cornbread and sausage, but you make it in a muffin pan, so lots of crisp edges – nothing soggy about it. When I’ve had a crowd, I’ve even made the stuffing muffins and then put them in a crockpot with foil to keep them warm. Funny, sweet potatoes didn’t make the list.

  69. It occurs to me that my Thanksgiving day meal is almost a time capsule of a 1950s Midwestern T-day, because that’s where my family is from,* and my Grandma served the same thing year after year, and then my mom did the same thing for decades until I took over. Standard turkey/potatoes/gravy from the drippings. Stuffing made with white bread (Schmidt’s Italian bread, every year for at least 40 years), celery, and onions. Sweet potatoes cooked with butter and brown sugar and topped with marshmallows (Grandma may have used canned candied yams, I don’t remember). Green bean casserole with canned beans, cream of mushroom soup, and cheese on top. Canned cranberry sauce. Pillsbury crescent rolls. A Jell-o mold.** Standard pumpkin pie with Libby’s pumpkin.

    It has absolutely zero food interest. And yet I crave it year after year. I’ve tried a lot of more upscale variations, which are objectively better — the “real” green bean casserole with fresh beans, shallots, parmesan, and crispy shallots; the sweet potato “pseuffle” with the spices and nut crumble top; the cornbread stuffing and other iterations; the pumpkin chiffon pie; etc. They get rave reviews and recipe requests — and yet none of them stick. Because for this one day, we just want the comfort food that we grew up with. I mean, that green bean casserole is total crap — and it’s always the first thing to disappear on the table.

    The one change that has stuck is DH’s family put apples in its stuffing, so I added that to our recipe, and I adore it — it adds a little interesting flavor without altering the bland midwestern comfort-ey-ness of the original.

    *Moved to Louisville when my mom was little, so that’s where I think of them being from, but their roots are N. Indiana and farm country Ohio.

    **My mom dropped this, but she kept the celery-stick-and-olives-in-the-pretty-glass-serving-dish appetizer.

  70. SM. Here is a link to testing facilities in Ohio. The posters above have given good advice on airplane risk, incubation and testing timelines. Obviously you have to judge the risk for yourself, and find out what your parents and the boots on the ground caregivers/children have established as protocols. If it were me, I would go to Ohio directly from your safe environment in Germany, isolate a bit, quick test, enjoy the holidays, and do Florida on the way back. But austins suggestion works too if everyone agrees that the trip from FLA to OH doesnt restart the clock.

    https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/testing-ch-centers

  71. “So we may be making duck for 4 rather than duck for 5.”

    If he does end up staying in the dorm, could you still make duck for 5 and drop off a prepared meal for him? Or would that be a violation of his quarantine?

  72. “If you can find butternut squash, that can be a substitute for pumpkin.”

    We sometimes buy frozen cubed butternut squash, which could be thawed and run through a food processor.

    Or you could buy a bunch of baby food. Butternut squash was a flavor we bought regularly.

  73. “my main concern is the plane.”

    I suggest wearing eye coverings in addition to masks– glasses, face shields, or eye masks when sleeping. Also hats.

  74. @S&M – from people who have been on planes, I too have heard that their main concern was the airport. Airplanes (they were flying SW so empty middle seat) felt okay. Boarding gate and baggage areas were “scary” in their words.

  75. We will be five, I think, both DDs and cousin roommate. Not-brined turkey (standard in my house is always moist and flavorful), gravy from the drippings. Stuffing made with white bread, green apples and onions, lots of herbs and sweet paprika. Sweet potatoes cooked with butter, oJ, dark honey, ginger and warm spices. Homemade cranberry sauce with cinnamon and orange. Some green veg, as much for color as food variety. DD2 is making parsnip and apple soup to start. Store bought bake at home Rolls of some sort. Mom’s pecan pie with whipped cream. One other dessert TBD. Maybe store bought, maybe apple pie. Using up some Alsatian and Portuguese wines we brought back last year.

    And FOOTBALL!!!!

  76. I’m still trying to get a PS5 and Walmart had some going on sale this afternoon. I got up to the complete purchase step and it wouldn’t go through. It should be like buying concert tickets where once you get the item in your cart, it’s yours unless you run out of time to complete the sale.

  77. SM, I’ve read that risk is relatively low in the plane while in flight, but risk goes up when boarding and disembarking, as well as when parked at the gate because the air circulation systems aren’t running the same as while in flight.

    Also IIRC there’ve been cases of transmission in bathrooms (no, not while joining the mile high club (hmm, does membership include much of the adult population of Denver?)), so don’t remove your PPE when using the bathroom, and sanitize your hands after leaving it.

  78. LfB, that’s exactly it – it’s the comfort of it all. It’s not supposed to be fine dining. One year my dad and stepmom did cornish game hens instead of turkey. They were very good, but it wasn’t Thanksgiving.

  79. My parents flew international. Choose the time of your flight such that there are less people at the airports. The airports are the biggest risk not the plane itself. My parents did not choose Lufthansa because it required a Covid test 72 hours prior to departure. Getting the test meant breaking their isolation. They wanted to go straight from their apartment to the airport. The one thing is that they had wheelchair assistance which meant they breezed through or has separate lanes. This was helpful is avoiding people.

  80. I feel the safest route is first to the parents and then to FL with appropriate quarantine/tests.

  81. Finn, I think it would be far easier to call a restaurant and arrange a nice delivered meal for him. I would rather, though, that he came home. I personally think he should come home and just stay. His classes are remote and things are getting dicier in the city

  82. Thanks everyone for the info and thoughts on our plans. Where ever we arrive from, it sounds like our time isolating in the basement would be a lot longer than I was thinking. Maybe we could keep the Florida part at the beginning, test as we are about to leave the state, and drive straight up. That’s 18 hours, so would involve one overnight. Then we’d still have several days in the basement.

  83. Louise, so you’re saying skip the additional potential for exposure in Florida, and spend the week in the basement? That wouldn’t kill us. And hopefully not my parents either.

  84. “I personally think he should come home and just stay.”

    That’s the approach a lot of schools are taking. DD’s BFF is coming home Sunday, and will finish out her semester from home.

    DD finished her last final at about midnight last night. She still has some papers due, but her first semester is nearly in the books.

  85. Finn, thank you for the link. I was saying “amazing” about your daughter finishing her first semester so early.

  86. Meme, thank you for the link to Ohio testing sites.
    I’m grateful to all of you for helping me think this through.

  87. “We will have canned cranberry sauce with the rings imprinted, as everyone should.”

    That’s been a tradition for me since childhood that we may miss that this year.

    While I like it, I don’t know that it’s worth a trip to the grocery store. Perhaps I’ll go very late one night when it’s not crowded.

  88. “DS is getting his wisdom teeth out tomorrow. I was surprised they didn’t require a test before that procedure.”

    I was a bit surprised when my dentist didn’t require a test.

    I’m curious as to the rate of infection among practicing dentists. They would seem to be at high risk, and ours at least seem to be relying on patients self-screening, dental office screening, and dentists’ PPE to prevent them from being infected.

    This also reminds me of reading that in the 1800s and early 1900s, dentistry was a dangerous profession due to TB, another disease transmitted via aerosols. I’m guessing that back then the dentists did not wear PPE.

  89. Finn, my dentist acquaintance observed that since he and others trained/practice when HIV was a lethal disease and we didn’t understand how it was transmitted completely, the risk from COVID, where 99.9% of people recover, seems very small to him and others of his dental cohort, given the PPE protections they take for disease in general.

    There’s obviously an element of self-selection for people who entered dentistry when HIV was a poorly understood risk.

  90. “the risk from COVID, where 99.9% of people recover”

    I’m curious of the basis for this.

    Latest numbers I’ve seen say over 250k deaths in the USA. If over 99.9% of those infected recover, that would mean over 250M infections in the USA (unless my math is wrong).

  91. Finn, his comment was about the risk to working age dentists, nearly all of whom are not elderly. He was comparing the COVID death rate of working age dentists to the HIV death rate of working age dentists in the 1990’s.

  92. DD#2 is coming home tomorrow and will be here until Spring semester starts, roughly 1/16; DD#1 will be coming home 12/2 and could be here as long as 8/2021. Still looking for internships, etc.

    Both schools will be 100% remote after Thanksgiving break

  93. That’s the approach a lot of schools are taking.

    Arizona basically said if you leave for Thankgsiving, don’t come back.

  94. With CUNY, most of the kids in the dorm are either international and aren’t going anywhere, or they are from NY. NY does not require testing for travel within the state or to NJ, so it is odd that CUNY is requiring this

  95. WCE, TMK by the mid to late 80s the method of transmission of HIV was known.

    So dentists who were practicing before HIV transmission was understood would, at the very least, be in their late 50s now.

    Overall US death rates is about 250k/11.6M, or over 2%. My guess is that death rates are not an order of magnitude lower for dentists in the 57+ age group.

    Perhaps your dentist acquaintance is underestimating his risk.

  96. “There is a local sweet potato (kumara) that will hopefully make do”

    What color are those sweet potatoes? Orange, purple, or some other color?

  97. Finn, I think the denominator is much greater than 11.6M, based on CDC estimates and stories about prisons, etc. with asymptomatic outbreaks. I figure odds are good that if I get COVID, I won’t know it.

  98. @WCE – My dentist friend I mentioned in the other thread said something similar – minus the dismissal of Covid as a serious threat. But he said that they are specifically trained in dental school to avoid transmission of all kinds of infectious and serious diseases like HIV, hepatitis, etc, and so once the transmission methods were more known for Covid, it is another one on the list. And when I’ve been to the dentist lately, they are in head-to-toe PPE, so I see it.

  99. “they are specifically trained in dental school to avoid transmission of all kinds of infectious and serious diseases like HIV, hepatitis, etc”

    And, I would guess, TB, which apparently is transmitted in a manner similar to CV-19. So this makes sense.

    “they are in head-to-toe PPE”

    My dentist as well, including full head covering. I remember Ada mentioning that hair tends to be a hospitable environment for viruses.

  100. “where are you getting that number for the number of people who died of AIDS?”

    NYTimes, but there are multiple sources online with similar numbers.

  101. “I think the denominator is much greater than 11.6M”

    ITA, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near 250M.

    The other reasons for the dentists’ risk assessments make sense, but the 99.9% recovery rate jumped out at me, since it’s pretty quick jump from that and 250k deaths, a number that’s gotten a lot of recent media coverage, to 250M infections.

    Perhaps 99.9% was hyperbolizing or dissembling.

  102. As per our usual family MO, we are spending time at the dentist and related specialists in the 4th quarter. I had a root canal and a crown. DH had several crowns. DD went to orthodontist and dentist. The amount of PPE that they are wearing has to be the main reason that they are staying safe. They also change PPE between patients and they have special N95s that are fitted just for them. The main reason that many dental and affiliated offices were closed around here to everything but emergencies in the Spring was lack of access to PPE. They wear face shields and goggles. DD’s dentist and orthodontist also installed special air filtration systems.

    The endodontist has one new employee that just cleans rooms between patients. They all told me that they see fewer patients per day because they need more time to clean equipment and to change their PPE. I am not sure how it works in other places, but the offices that we’ve visited around here and in Manhattan are taking a lot of precautions.

  103. DD, is your kid staying in Arizona then?

    No, he’s coming home Saturday and going back in January.

    In related news, a few parents have been posting on FB that their kids are going to stay home for the spring semester so they are trying to sell things like TVs, fridges, microwaves, etc. DW and I can’t figure out why they aren’t saving them for next year. Maybe they live out of state and are flying home and don’t want to put them in storage. I don’t know.

  104. @Lauren – Same with my dentist. My dentist friend also said the same about the PPE in the spring. With all the unknowns with a novel virus and the shortages of PPE available to order from their usual sources, it was a different situation than even with this second wave.

    @Finn – Yeah TB too I’m sure, especially in urban locations.

  105. Ada – good luck with your work Thanksgiving celebration. I tried that here last year and it was a total disaster. No one at work had any interest in participating. At the time the head of my team was an American (who has since left because he got so fed up) so the team acquiesced and let us bring “American” sweets that we could share for gouter (afternoon snack). They turned their noses up at our offerings. And when we tried to explain why Thanksgiving is such a great holiday they just stared at us. It was truly a scene from Rhett’s longed for sitcom about an American family who gets dropped into the middle of Paris.

  106. JM – one reason I like Great British Bake Off, is because they incorporate sweets from other places. When, I heard of Ada’s feast I thought of my Mom’s trifle. She used to make it on special occasions. Layers of cake, custard, fruits, jello. Everyone used to always ask for it. Her jello ring topping for salads was very pretty too.
    The home country cooks are quite adventurous. The problem used to be a lack of ingredients. They are also great at making dishes vegetarian. Instead of pieces of meat there are pieces of battered cauliflower or paneer.

  107. J-M, given the enthusiasm Ada has shown for her new home’s ways, I expect her work colleagues will happily reciprocate with interest in this strange holiday they’ve heard about. From what you’ve said about the other guy (I think you’ve mentioned him before) I can see why they’d feel like he was trying to cram Turkey down their throats. Who would be interested in that?

  108. S&M – In my experience a big difference I notice here is the lack of openness to different things. Whereas back home it can be viewed as a badge of honor to show how worldly and adventurous you are to try new things (food, decor, clothes, etc), here the badge of honor is to only like things that are done the French way (I am ONLY speaking of my coworkers and my experience. I can’t generalize for the entire nation). Trust me, I showed much enthusiasm when we shared king cake in January!

    I think another thing that added to the awkwardness is that they don’t socialize with coworkers. They don’t do happy hours after work. At lunch they only talk about work. So sitting around and trying to just have a good, non-work related time together was uncomfortable for everyone.

  109. J-M, that last paragraph sounds like Germans. When they make friendships, they are deep and likely life-long, but they don’t do casual hanging out or pointless smalltalk. My son, who was never a social guy at home, notices this and treasures the few people at school who do chit-chat. He finds it very ironic that now that he wants to be social, Covid prevents it. But before shutdown, he found his basketball teammates very curious, because they don’t josh around, meet up outside practices/games, or talk about other things. My son’s coach last year is a very social guy, the kind who has gathered a gigantic network over decades. Seeing him sit with players and try to talk about other things was either funny or painful.

  110. My work group tries to maintain the relationships we developed in the office by taking time every week to casually chat about what’s going on outside of work. It’s helpful to know of any challenges people might be facing so that we can help accordingly. Everyone is at a slightly different stage of life so there are the people with kids, to empty nesters to almost retirees. It can’t be called the most fun bunch but definitely an understanding group.

  111. Even American traditional foods are a blend of cultures. There is no absolute National way to make anything. I am sure the comfort sides that posters know drew from
    cookbooks of different eras. I can see home cooks of the past incorporating Betty Crocker or Campbells into their recipes, which have now become heirloom recipes. I was taught to make cranberry relish on the stove and not present the famed tinned relish with ridges ;-).

  112. “In my experience a big difference I notice here is the lack of openness to different things.”
    I spent a summer doing research at the University of Karlsruhe back in the 90’s. Karlsruhe is very close to the French border, and it was an easy trip to Strasbourg. I started doing all my grocery shopping in Strasbourg, and just spending time in France, because you could get foreign products and just generally a much wider variety of stuff in France compared to Germany. I find Germans to be way more closed to the world than the French (or Dutch).

    In general, though, I think you have to be careful about interpreting Europeans. First of all, while there are clear differences between the cultures of various western European countries, once you compare them to AMericans (or eastern Europeans or East Asians), they seem more alike than different. I can remember a French grad student I knew when I was in grad school who told me that she had always thought of herself as quite different from Germans or Italians until she came to the US and realized that they were all “Europeans”. Western Europeans have a lot of reserve compared to Americans, even Italians. And they are way, way, way more family oriented. Most socializing goes on within families, not coworkers or big friend groups. I realized that when I was an exchange student. For example, our big school dance was attended by the entire family, not teens paired into couples. Kids spent more time going to see grandma and less time hanging with friends. I saw it when I lived with a family in Naples (Italy) and again in Karlsruhe. There was a little bit of socializing at that lab, but it was mainly the Indian grad students who had no family there (we would go out for raki on Fridays). The grads and postdocs from the north went back home every weekend to be with their families.

    Americans are more flamboyant and more on the move compared to western Europeans. The mom in the French family I lived in always commented that Americans, including me, had much more open facial expressions and that we smiled all the time. Europeans are more formal. They greet each other constantly “Guten Morgen Frau Kunstler” to every person you barely know. They use please and thank you a lot more than we do. Their gestures are smaller – even the more expressive Neapolitans. They sometimes seem energyless to us Americans, but having worked a lot with Europeans (including this summer project), I know they can get stuff done – in just a very calm and orderly way.

    At our lab in Karlsruhe, the lab director would emerge every day from his office, at 10am and at 2pm, to ring a little handbell. It was the signal for all of us to traipse to the cafeteria for coffee break. Dang, that was so European

  113. MM – Not sure if your comment was directed at me or the Totebag in general. I would never try to generalize about an entire continent of people, which is why I stated I can only speak about my experience with my coworkers and can’t generalize about the country.

  114. My work group is similar to Louise’s. In fact, I think we have gotten more personal because what is going on at home is impacting work life more than ever before. I can’t imagine not having chitchat with coworkers. I consider coworkers, and former coworkers, to be some of my closest friends.

    “Kids spent more time going to see grandma and less time hanging with friends.”

    This was my dad’s experience growing up and he tried so hard to have it be my experience. He never understood why I wanted to go to a friend’s birthday party instead of seeing grandma and grandpa. And now, he tells me all the time how disappointed he is that his teenage grandkids want to hang out on the weekends with their friends and not him. My dad will often say that in the times of need or in death, family will help you out, not friends. But I don’t see that being the case.

  115. Families in the home country are similar. Usually people are close to one side of their family than the other. For big occasions it is a given that both sides will invited aunts, uncles and cousins.

  116. Mooshi, I don’t disagree with your comments on Europeans, but will make some additions. My experiences are primarily further north than yours—Switzerland, Braunschweig, Jena, and Berlin, which has a reputation for curlishness.
    Smiling with the eyes was a thing here long before the American “smize”. The difference is that a German smiling with their eyes might not be smiling with their mouth. Dealing with an HR rep recently, it occurred to me that she had the same break-your-face smileyness that I’d expect from her counterpart in the US.
    The formality you mention is much, much less. People are much more likely to address one another with the informal “Du”. It seems that “Sie “ (formal form of address) is reserved for children addressing adults and explicitly formal situations. Do toes address me with “Sie”, but PTs use “Du”. Sales associates use either one, depending on type of store.
    People here are reserved and do not make eye contact with or seem to ackowlege people they don’t know on the street—until there is a need. My son has observed the same thing as I: when someone drops something, is standing at the bottom of steps with a stroller, is running for a bus, or otherwise clearly has a need, help appears out of no where to collect and return things, carry one end of the stroller, or hold the door open. Once the need is passed, the hole in the matrix is closed, and everyone returns to their same, distanced positions.
    Life can involve many more organizations than in the US—I can go to open swim at pools here, but there are also many more adult swim teams than at home. Open courts for basketball are hard to find, but there are many teams for adults or chances to go to a session with a coach. Music groups are common, at many levels. Conversation in those organizations is primarily on-topic, but can drift to other parts of life.
    Opening up seems to be a decision, rather than the US default. Part of this might have to do with how long people expect to interact. In the US, I think we chat with the person behind us in line and might say something personal because we expect to never see each other again. As I frequently as people move here, they have a different expectation. One of my upstairs neighbors recalls that my apartment was the first he ever had, back during the GDR. Another was telling me (in her apt as we sat 2 m away from each other and chatted) about changes she has seen in another neighbor as he has changed careers and then become unemployed, his son grew up and moved out, his wife moved to another apt in the same building…..

  117. Not so much at you – just reading your posts made me start musing. I’ve spent time in various places in Europe, including living with families over periods of months, twice, and have gone to school in Germany and France. Over time, I just started feeling like, even though there are cultural differences between people from those countries, there is a commonality when you compare Europeans (western that is) to Americans. I don’t think I am alone in that observation – people have been trying to comment on those differences since de Tocqueville, or even before.

    As a teen, I was in love with all things western Europe, and wanted to emulate them, especially the French kids I knew. But at some point in my life, after many visits and working with Europeans, I realized that I am truly, fundamentally American. Neither one is better, just a bit different.

  118. “Opening up seems to be a decision, rather than the US default.”
    Yes. That is very true.

  119. “Opening up seems to be a decision, rather than the US default.”

    Some of you have not spent much time in the Upper Midwest and it shows. :)

  120. Mooshi, what do you consider to be western Europe? Is its eastern end Germany/Austria/Italy? Does it include any part of Scandanavia?

    I’m wondering if perhaps a more apt basis for comparison would be regions of the the US, e.g., south, midwest.

  121. “In my experience a big difference I notice here is the lack of openness to different things.”

    Doesn’t the French government actively try to foster French people doing things the French way? I’ve read things that left me with that impression.

  122. “When, I heard of Ada’s feast I thought of my Mom’s trifle. She used to make it on special occasions. Layers of cake, custard, fruits, jello.”

    I was not aware of trifle as a food until I saw the Friends episode in which Rachel tried to make one.

    I was aware of the other definitions of trifle.

  123. Finn, Americans often try to use differences between various regions of the USA as analogous to differences in Europe. I assume this is because of lack of reference points. Having lived nine years on this continent, most of it in my current country, I’d say that the differences within Germany are more extreme than within America. Many countries in Europe have similar regional differences, such as Northern vs Southern Italy, Catalonia, the Basque region, and Andalucia in Spain, etc.

    Ivy, do you consider Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota to be “the Upper Midwest”? That’s where my family is from. They are much quicker to assume a connection and open up than Germans–not just my relatives, but other people I ran into while visiting.

    J-M, one other thought on Thanksgiving with French people, if you’re still reading. See Laura’s post above. Instead of claiming that you’re serving the very best, most beautiful food, why not let yourself get a little campy about tradition, similar to people’s attitudes towards cranberry sauce with ridges from the can?

  124. “I’d say that the differences within Germany are more extreme than within America. Many countries in Europe have similar regional differences, such as Northern vs Southern Italy, Catalonia, the Basque region, and Andalucia in Spain, etc.”

    I’m guessing the differences are so much greater because they go back much further historically, e.g., back to when many of those regions were independent of each other.

    The US wiped out much of that sort of history by largely killing off the indigenous peoples. If they did that in western Europe, that happened a lot longer ago.

  125. Finn, in Germany, the divisions do indeed go back much further than the European invasion of the Americas *and* regions remained independent much later than the US. Most of what is Germany today came together in the 1860s.

  126. “Most of what is Germany today came together in the 1860s.”

    Hasn’t Germany been reconfigured multiple times since then?

    My knowledge of European history isn’t great, but it seems to me like there’s been a lot more configuration changes in national boundaries there than in the US in the last couple hundred years.

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