Outdoors Magazine

Happy Thanksgiving!

By Behan Gifford @sailingtotem
From our anchorage in the lagoon of the Hermit Islands, a Happy Thanksgiving from the Totem crew!
We didn't have a turkey or play touch football in a leaf blown backyard, but it was a sweet Thanksgiving on board. The gray skies and misty rain were reminiscent enough of our Pacific Northwest holidays, although the tropical temperatures would never let us forget we're far from home. Celebrating holidays without a pantheon familiar hallmarks puts memories of good times in sharp focus, but doesn't have to detract from the present: we keep our own traditions to make the day special.
There have been some unsettled stomachs on Totem so we mostly laid low: playing games, reading books, talking. The kids read out loud from different books we have about the origin of Thanksgiving (the cleansed version, then one dosed with a bit more of 1620s reality). We reminisced about favorite Thanksgivings at home, from walking the beach on Bainbridge with the Denlingers and Pecoes to gatherings with our family in Bellingham. This segued easily into a game of Chicago Rummy, which we'd always play with the Castle clan.
The meal was a far cry from feasts of the past, but options here are relatively limited. Then again, we did pretty well considering it's about a thousand miles as the crow flies that separate us from shopping that would even remotely resemble the good ol' Town & Country Market back on Bainbridge!
There was never a question of having turkey. But we had chicken and gravy- even if it was the bird I had canned up before we left Australia, since shoe leather is an improvement on the island birds we've tried. Jamie shaped stuffing into a turkey shape that cracked all of us up when it came out of the oven: there WAS a turkey on the table now! Cranberry sauce was dug up from a hiding spot in the bilge, stashed there for the celebration. Niall was convinced that a pumpkin pie wouldn't taste the same unless it was made from canned pumpkin, since island pumpkins look nothing like the deep orange sugars from home. After a bit of a debate on the subject I might have just told him a little white lie and said I'd find a can to make it from. The snag is that I knew we didn't actually have any canned pumpkin on board (Australians eat lots of pumpkin, but I never saw it for sale in a can) so that was never going to happen; but we had traded for a nice pumpkin back at Ungalik island. I waited until after Niall pronounced the pie delicious to 'fess up.
Sharing the things we're grateful for around the table, I'm secretly relieved that some version of traveling afloat as a family still features for the children as something they are thankful for. Still, Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that makes me the most homesick, full of the memories of special people so far away from us. But doubts shrink in the flickring evening shadows of our little family circle, laughing and sharing stories into the night.
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