Before we moved we knew four things pertaining to Thanksgiving weekend – Jarred and I were not returning to Oklahoma, Kelsey and Shawn were staying in Washington, my sister and her boyfriend were visiting, and Hannah (Carson’s college bestie that lives in Seattle) and her boyfriend would also be in town. We initially thought the eight of us would secure dinner reservations somewhere and enjoy a festive meal prepared by someone other than ourselves. However, after catching the first glimpse of our apartment rooftop and kitchen area in August we decided the Witts would “host” our very first Thanksgiving.
Jarred and I knew these areas were available for private gatherings so we promptly emailed the building manager on August 14th requesting to book the kitchen and dining area for Thanksgiving Day. Time was obviously of the essence. Jared (building manager, not my husband) responded that he was very sorry, but unfortunately the rooftop areas are available to reserve everyday EXCEPT holidays and Seahawk games. He went on to explain that the common areas were available for use on those days, but it was purely on a first come, first served basis. And thus “Operation Beat Everyone Else to the Rooftop on Thanksgiving Day” was born.
What had started as a quant holiday gathering soon accumulated more welcomed guests and when party planning began we were expecting at least 15 people. Kelsey set up the spreadsheet (technically called SmartSheet) and we quickly divvied up the meal’s essentials. By the time everyone had entered their contributions it was evident no one would walk away from our feast hungry.
Jbabe and I were providing the turkey, gravy, rolls and “Grandma Joy’s Chocolate Pie.” If I’m being honest, Honey Baked Hams actually provided the majority of our items, but that’s neither here nor there. The pie however, was 100% cooked in our home using my grandma’s recipe.
Chocolate in my family, specifically chocolate pie, is a really big deal. As previously mentioned, my generation has always referred to the pie as “Grandma Joy’s.” My great-grandmother Ruth used to frequently remind us that her and her mother were all using this recipe long before our grandma. Who the original creator was I could not say, but what I do know is this legendary chocolate pie has been in my family for over five generations and there was no way it would be omitted from our Thanksgiving celebration.
As Thanksgiving Day approached turkey orders had been placed, groceries had been purchased, flowers from the market had been retrieved, my Letterboard had been changed accordingly and we were more or less ready for the big day! When we moved into a 647 sq. ft. apartment we never imagined we’d be hosting a large gathering and left the majority of our tableware in storage. Thus as a thirty-year-old entertaining for the first time during a holiday – we were using paper plates and plastic utensils. I know the one word coming to everyone’s mind: classy.
In order to successfully complete the mission at hand, Jarred and I’s alarm clock sounded at 5:00 o’clock on Thursday morning. I may or may not have taken “first come, first served” very seriously. Jarred wasn’t ready quite as early as I was, so equipped with chocolate pies and decorations I ventured solo to the 17th floor at 5:45 a.m. I am pleased to report that no other parties beat me to the punch; the dining area was successfully ours! Mission accomplished.
Jarred accompanied me about fifteen minutes later and we proceeded to set up camp for the day. Everything was going swimmingly until the concierge of our building strolled into the kitchen around 6:30; Jarred had run down to our apartment to retrieve something so I was alone for this encounter. His first comment to me was, “you know you’re not allowed to reserve this area on a holiday?” To which I replied, “I know. We spoke to Jared in August and again in October about using the space. He said it was first come, first served.”
A repetitive conversation ensued that consisted of the concierge continually stating that I couldn’t reserve the space and me responding that I was aware. Finally after our Ping-Pong dialogue and lots of staring at one another I ended with, “So, are we not allowed to use this space today?” The man answered, “No, you can, but you have to let anyone who wants to use this place join you.” I was more than a little baffled by our exchange (and the definition of first come, first served) and basically said all right and wished him a Happy Thanksgiving as he walked away.
Kelsey and Shawn showed up around 9:30 to assistant in discouraging any unwanted guests. However, besides the occasional dog owner, no one ventured into the room with any desire to stay. Michael, a man that lives in our building that we’d previously met, did come in around 11:00 saying that he was planning on using the kitchen that evening, but other than that we were golden. Apparently I could have slept in for about five more hours and still would have successfully secured our venue. Better safe than sorry!
Our original game plan was to enjoy our potluck meal around 12:30. However, like any good party, as our friends began to pile in with libations and culinary masterpieces we focused more on conversing and grazing than actually sticking to a timeline. It was almost 2:00 by the time we gave thanks and began our glorious feast. Thankfully we’ve befriended people who know their way around a kitchen and with over three appetizers, seven sides, turkey, ham and six desserts there was more than enough delicious food to go around. Anne Jordan was awarded the day’s top chef as I’m positive she could have fed everyone in attendance just by the food she contributed.
Following our meal we did what any normal person does on Thanksgiving – watched football. However, with the rain subsiding and the sun making a rare appearance we also squeezed in an impromptu photo shoot in the interim. I will not name names, but some couples may have required more of my time and patience than others to get a good shot. I’ll let you decide for yourselves who you think that might have been.
The afternoon/evening became even more amusing when our neighbor Michael, wearing a headset, plugged in his personal karaoke machine complete with synchronized disco lights. The men still in attendance from our gathering didn’t care for the microphone as much as the ladies, but I speak from experience when I say – the dance party/karaoke session that ensued was an absolute blast. All in all, our first Thanksgiving as hosts was a smashing success. We missed our family that we weren’t able to celebrate with, but what our gathering lacked in tradition it more than made up for in entertainment.