I remember sneaking maple leaf foil-covered chocolates from my family’s fancy dining room glass candy dishes when I was barely as tall as the bureau on which they were placed; now, I openly stock up on three slices of pie while my family scoops six types of ice cream into bowls.

Allow me to explain this transition:

Back in the days of yore (about twelve years ago), my sister, brother, two cousins and I were the only young children around on Thanksgiving. At the ripe old age of 8, my parents had realized they didn’t need to constantly watch me, but did need to make sure I kept out of certain candy drawers and was not left alone with the ice cream. With ever the sweet tooth, I constantly sought after any sugary treat I knew the whereabouts of, including the special Thanksgiving glass candy dishes. Why would they have such beautiful and aptly-themed chocolates if not for me to sneak in between every meal in November?

On Thanksgiving day, if not for these chocolates, my sugar intake would be severely limited due to my mother’s strict pie slice portion control. She made sure that all children under the age of 10 received no more than one slice of pie and one scoop of ice cream. I know this sounds like a fair portion, but to an 8-year-old, sugar was king and I needed it like oxygen.

As all the cousins aged, I moved away to boarding school and starting managing my own portions; the freshmen fifteen were on my mind and I realized that portion control wasn’t always a bad thing. When I came home for Thanksgiving break, we had two more Dobbin cousins around for dinner as well, and we all were over the age of 14. My paternal uncle and his family moved to the U.S. from Sweden. With our age and supposed maturity, parental concern over our diet was only taken as suggestion. Consequently, pie and ice cream consumption increased exponentially.

To provide some context, my family Thanksgiving dinner involves between 15-20 people each year. My mother, ever the hostess, will purchase ice cream for about 30 people, in addition to the pies family members bring. I take pride in the pie-to-person ratio; this past year, it was 6:18. We had two chocolate pies, one pecan, one pumpkin, one apple and one chess (it is like a sugar cookie pie). In a house with 6 pies, it became very difficult to abstain from eating excessive amounts of dessert, especially as a child whose sugar intake was very limited.

Upon discussing my Very Dobbin Thanksgiving traditions, I realized my family goes a little heavy on the dessert side of things, due to the amount of energy I spent thinking about desserts. This was further emphasized when I asked my peers about their favorite Thanksgiving recipes, assuming they would all be dessert-related. I was wrong. Riley Hopkins ’18 shared a delicious recipe NOT involved with dessert – green bean casserole. To make, combine and pour into a casserole dish:

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

2 cups of fried onions

2 cans of green beans

¾ cup milk

Bake at 350 until hot and then enjoy! Hopkins notes that the onions are the highlight of this simple dish, so be sure to sprinkle some on top before baking.

To make a Very Dobbin Thanksgiving dish, simply purchase your preferred Ben & Jerry’s ice cream pints as well as a pecan pie baked by Lulu’s Southern Pies (found at Walter Stewart’s in New Canaan, CT, among other locations).

Dessert has been a huge part of my Thanksgiving experience both overtly and covertly. Through homemade pies and store-bought Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, dessert has shaped how I think about Thanksgiving to this day. How have you thought about Thanksgiving? Let me know- send me an e-mail at vdobbin@bates.edu. I hope to hear back about the diverse experiences Bates students recall throughout their break that relate to Thanksgiving and memories.