Guest Book recipes

One night while at work screening Guest Book entries, I learned of a big snowstorm headed this way. The funny thing is that I was made aware of the storm from the Guest Book entries themselves. Entry after entry, everyone seemed to mention this winter storm. People journaled of their day’s events such as stocking up on groceries before it hit, or discussed the sledding and hot chocolate they envisioned for their impending snow-day. My personal favorites were the pleas for “help from above” from those who still planned to go into the office tomorrow, and hoped for a painless commute.

I mention these entries not because I would advocate using for a source of reliable weather information. Rather, I wanted to point out how the Guest Books can often be abuzz with what’s currently on our collective mind. I suppose it’s no surprise that the tone and flavor of Guest Book entries can and do change given the day or season. And as we’ve just screened this year’s portion of Thanksgiving entries, it seems a good time to reflect on the sentiments that have just been expressed.

At any time of year, people use the Guest Book to reflect on Good People and Good Times. At Thanksgiving, though, an additional component seems to come to the forefront: Good Food. It’s not every day we get to read about mashed potatoes made with love or the secret to a consistently perfect turkey year after year. From the off-beat traditional Thanksgiving ribs to the tried-and-true casseroles, food memories are savored this time of year. I’ve even gleaned a few time-honored cooking techniques and screened some age-old family recipes.

Yet not all Thanksgiving entries are about fond food memories. Other entries remind us that Thanksgiving Day can be a milestone of sorts. As a special day, it punctuates the passage of time: people write in to acknowledge their first Thanksgiving without a loved one present (or their third, or their tenth…). They write in to declare “it’s just not the same without you here” or conversely to assure them (wherever they may be) not to worry as “everything is the same like when you were here”. I am particularly touched when people write in to report “we even set a place for you at the table.”

When the Guest Book entries describe what it is like to survive a holiday without a loved one here, it can remind me of how silly it is for us to talk about “surviving“ the holiday season’s busy schedules and forced close-quarters with quirky relatives. Interestingly, though, it seems we get through both things in the exact same way—with good people, good times and good food. Perhaps these are the basic ingredients for survival, whether surviving life, loss or even the occasional blizzard. It seems we’re all just hoping for a painless commute through whatever we’re currently faced with, and sharing time and food with others is an age-old recipe of sorts that helps us do that (in some cases with a dash of “help from above” added in). So even though the Guest Books can’t provide an accurate weather forecast, they can offer a good recipe or two– especially on weathering whatever life may bring, storms and all.

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