Thanksgiving is two weeks from today, November 28. It is a family time: moms, dads, aunts, uncles, all the cousins, grandparents, ex-spouses, soon-to-be spouses, dogs, cats, fish, backyard birds, close neighbors, and best friends. Someone supplies the place, cooks the turkey, cleans the house, sets the table, welcomes the guests, graciously accepts the covered dishes, feeds everyone and then cleans up, washes dishes and puts piles of leftovers into Tupperware. We all look forward to “turkey day.”
The real Thanksgiving date is for the families. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, November 24, however, another feast takes place in Nederland. It is a time for mountain area residents to take part in the town’s largest buffet meal. The Nederland Community Thanksgiving Dinner is free. Everyone is invited for turkey, the trimmings, vegan offerings, salads and fruit and yummy desserts that come from the kitchens and hearts of our extended Ned family.
Here’s how it works.
Turkeys are purchased, paid for by the Stringfellow Family, and are picked up at B & F Mountain Market by people who have volunteered to cook them. Turkey cookers are esteemed by the kitchen crew, heroes in the eyes of the gravy makers. This year, the NCTD committee has decided that 40 turkeys will be needed. Those who are still struggling and homeless from the flood will find a place of refuge, tables filled with astounding concoctions of casseroles, salads, vegetables, side dishes.
Many people need a time to be with people; for one afternoon to get away from the worry and stress of dealing with the devastation wrought by the epic flooding that besieged our mountain towns.
The Nederland Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner is a colorful, noisy, huge family-like event which has grown every year since its inception. Large, round tables are conducive to getting to know people you have seen but never spoken to; it is a great way for newcomers to the area to become members of our mountain community. It is one time when everyone leaves sated with food and filled with a sense of belonging.
Forty people will cook the turkey: pick them up, thaw them out and stick them in the oven. The turkeys are to be brought to the community center early Sunday morning, preferably carved (but not necessarily), with all the turkey juices in a jar. Turkey cookers will be on a list at B & F so when you pick up your turkey, your name will be checked off.
The Town of Nederland, Mountain People’s Co-op, Sysco Foods, and other entities will provide the fixings; the creamy mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing, as well as beverages. Place mats will be created by Nederland Elementary School students. Everybody gets in on the action. Volunteers are needed to set up, to serve, to keep the coffee coming, to make sure the pot luck dishes are replaced, to carve turkeys, to mash potatoes, to wash pots and pans and to clean up.
Down home lively music will be provided by Burt Rashbaum and his band, and Laura Fisher and the Live Band. Volunteers are needed to dance.
Amazing things can happen at a local event like this. One year, a couple got engaged. People who volunteered as a way of meeting others in the community are still working the lines, but now they are well known and comforted with future forever friends.
The NCTD is a time for most participants to sit down, relax, enjoy a turkey dinner, chat for awhile and then go home to a clean kitchen, no after dinner mess. This year the turkey committee is telling everyone to bring their own plates, cups, and cutlery. This change saves the cost of purchasing plasticware and paper products, as well as avoiding the resulting waste. There will be a station to rinse dishes before leaving.
This is a zero waste event and Keep Magnolia Clean and NedCompost will handle the recyclable and compostable leftovers at a discount. The cost is being met by a number of Nederland businesses and individuals: The High Peaks Art Fair, the High Peaks Holiday Art Fair, Geek for Hire, Solar Greens Company, and Daniel Fishburn. Non-profits are urged to bring in literature for the non-profit information table.
From noon to 3 p.m., the doors to the Nederland Community Center will be open to anyone who wants to volunteer to have a good time, a great dinner and a good wonderful beginning-of-the-holiday feeling.
If you want to volunteer for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, contact Deb, at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Janette at Janette.email@example.com.