In Brevig Mission, there are two village feasts: one at Thanksgiving and one at Christmas. It was that way in Shishmaref too. The TAT family has learned a lot from our feast experiences, and so, just in time for the upcoming Christmas feast, here are our essentials for enjoying a Brevig Mission Feast:
Disposable dishes and silverware
Feast attendees bring their own dishes. Our favorite kind to bring are the kind we can throw away before we head home. Not the most environmentally-friendly option, but it sure beats packing home dirty dishes. The only exception to the disposable silverware policy in the TAT household is steak knives. It’s hard to cut chunks of caribou or reindeer with plastic knives.
Sometimes at Brevig Mission feasts I see a (clean) giant plastic garbage can filled with red kool-aid, but I rarely get a chance to partake of the kool-aid. It seems to always run out before I can manage to get over there after settling my kidlets. Some years there isn’t a giant tub of kool-aid, but I always have thirsty kids. We started bringing our own water and juice mix. The water bottles in the above picture are filled with water, and the ziploc bag in the foreground is filled with Crystal Light packets (mmmmmm….aspartame). The cups would have been disposable if we’d had any, but we didn’t. I settled for plastic ones.
Condiments and Seasonings
Since the food is prepared by a variety of people, we make sure we bring things that will make it work for our kids (or Steve). Salt and pepper grinders, ketchup, and barbecue sauce usually do the trick.
Something to Clean With
Usually there are rolls of paper towels or stacks of napkins around, but, as a mom, that’s not something I’m willing to take a chance on. Spills and dirty faces are a part of my everyday life, and I like to come with something to use to wipe that stuff up (hence the roll of paper towels in the top picture).
Something to Share
Brevig Mission feasts aren’t “potlucks” in the sense of the word that I grew up with (where food is provided solely by attendees and shared with everyone). The sponsoring organizations (usually the city, the native village, and/or the corporation) provide most of the food, but people usually bring something to share with their families and the people sitting around them.
We went with a green salad this year, complete with Olive Garden salad dressing.
Extras of Everything
Astute readers will notice that there are more cups, plates, bowls, etc. than there are members of the TAT family. That’s because a Brevig Mission Feast is very much a communal event. People pass things around and share, and we like to be part of that.
Find Somebody Nice to Sit Next To
We lucked out this year and got to sit with Kaitlyn’s biological family. Nothing makes Thanksgiving dinner better than looking at this little dude while eating.
(Note to readers: the above comment refers to the baby (Kaitlyn’s brother). His dad is cute too, but he’s taken, so let’s not start rumors…)
Bonus Brevig Mission Feast Material
This is a view of the school gym set up for the feast. It wasn’t very crowded this year. Usually we can barely find a place to sit together. The crowd was lighter this year. I heard it was because reindeer stew wasn’t on the menu (we ate turkey and ham) this year, but I don’t really know.
Here’s a closeup shot of our essentials being used.
One highlight of the Thanksgiving Brevig Mission Feast this year was the collaborative artwork made up of things students and staff at Brevig Mission School are thankful for.
Our principal made sure every student’s name was in the artwork, so crowds of kids and adults surrounded the piece during the meal.
Kaitlyn proudly found her name. (And is pointing it out with a mouthful of food?)
Feasts are fun. Being prepared makes them even better.