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Orphaned Thanksgiving: Change things up by spending the day with other estranged friends

By by carolina astrain/castrain@vicad.com
Nov. 21, 2012 at 5:21 a.m.

If you're like me, holidays are a time of dread.

Coming from a divided household, the traditional way to spend Thanksgiving has always been between two dinner tables, blocks away from each other.

The confusion, mixed emotions, parted plates often summons feelings of division, instead of the holiday's supposed theme of unity.

Don't get me wrong - Mom makes the best brisket, Dad brings deliciously seasoned deer jerky and getting to see tangential family members to laugh about that time you swallowed a bug can be fun - but just the mere whiff of past scandal can spoil everything.

But if you happen to be too far away from home or can't get that extra day off from work you need to travel, do not fret.

This may be the best Thanksgiving you'll have yet, but only if you plan accordingly.

The key to having a successful Thanksgiving away from family is to surround yourself with friends.

Break your golden party rule just this one time.

Thanksgiving is about making connections with new people and sharing each other's stories.

Pick whoever has the biggest living room or communal area.

You'll need room for games, awkward conversations in the corner and a drink-mixing station.

Step Four: Diversify.

Stay away from the trademark dishes.

Encourage everybody to bring a childhood favorite.

I spent my last Thanksgiving orphaned in Minneapolis, where I had happened to make a ton of Asian friends.

Spring rolls, sticky rice and spicy curry bordered a beautiful roasted turkey.

I brought my mother's specialty: Upside-Down Pineapple Cake.

Get to H-E-B Plus! before they close.

They have a broader selection of wines than Wal-Mart, and they close at 2 p.m., Thanksgiving Day.

The faster you're out of bed that morning, the better.

If you're smart, you've already made your stops at Specs for all the mixing whiskeys, rums and seasonal brews.

Once you're fully stocked, set aside some room for your guests to mix their own holiday elixirs.

Dig up an old Family Circle or Better Homes magazine and create something with pizazz.

If you're not the magazine-purchasing type, venture online to some foodie websites.

My favorite is, the Crepes of Wrath, written by Sydney Kramer, an Arizona transplant living in Brooklyn.

Finally: Set the mood.

Put on some casual tunes.

Bust out the patio furniture and have a brief Skype session with your parents before the festivities begin.

You've got this.


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