The counters are the cleanest I have ever seen them in preparation for a massive meal. In fact, there’s a flutter of worry in my stomach – What if we dont’ have enough food? I mentally run through the menu again, it seems like there’s enough to make up a meal. But why aren’t we frantically prepping anything? How did all of the dishes get done? Is there really time to stop and enjoy my glass of wine?

We almost always do potluck style, so it’s no surprise that there are dishes put together in other kitchens, ready to go, clean up already done before arrival. But still – the veggie platters, the floral arrangements, and the table setting have all been done by the doorbell rings for the first time.

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And then the doorbell does ring.

It seems, no matter how many parties we throw, who is invited, or what the occasion is for, there is always that momentary unease as guests begin to arrive. There are familiar faces around the table, but friends come from all aspects of our lives, mine, my father’s, and my mother’s. One of the moments I love most at any gathering is when this unease begins to evaporate. No matter who we invite, how we are connected to them, or how long the breath of discomfort is at the beginning, we always manage to come together over the food. Tonight it starts with homemade hummus and jewel toned vegetables. It starts with introductions and the hanging of coats in the closet.

And by the time the Grahams arrive in a mess of butter and sugar that leaked all over their car the kitchen is humming with great conversation. My mother discovers a fellow art enthusiast, there is talk about politics, cultural traditions, and work. My almost sister, Fab, who I haven’t seen in over a year is home – we stand by the sink side by side as we have done so many times over the years and laugh over complete and utter nonsense.

The turkey comes out, gravy is poured, everyone indulges in yams with marshmallows on top, and exclaims over the beauty of raw brussels sprout leaves. It’s a meal flavoured by each of the individuals who clink glasses and laugh together.

Oh, and don’t worry – we had more than enough food. Even for breakfast the next morning.

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