Thanksgiving on Cape Cod

By Lisa Hassler on November 10, 2018

When the last surviving leaves bid us farewell in a torrent of color, and the frost greets us on bare meadows and frigid windshields, we retreat back to Home. The world around us grows quiet save for the squawk of a lone seagull or the soft pedal of leaves scraping the ground. It’s toasty by the fireside and toastier yet by the oven. We invite winter in through our stomachs and reflect on our blessings during this most beautiful time of year.

Did you know Cape Cod was the first place that the Pilgrims landed in the New World back in 1620? They anchored the Mayflower off the shores of Provincetown and explored the land for a few weeks before ultimately setting sail for Plymouth. Before they left, the Mayflower Compact was signed here. These events were commemorated in 1892 by Cape Cod’s first non-for-profit organization, the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association, by building a massive 252-foot monument close to the shore where they might have landed. To date, the Pilgrim Monument is the largest granite structure in the United States.

The Annual Lighting of the Pilgrim Monument, traditionally held the night before Thanksgiving, is an especially festive event. Each year the monument is adorned in a sparkle of lights which first illuminate on this occasion and shine on through the New Year. It is a time-honored tradition that has been cherished on the Cape for generations.
In Chatham, their annual Turkey Trot, a 5k run through some of the town’s most picturesque roadways, benefits the Lower Cape Outreach Council’s emergency programs. Held the morning of Thanksgiving, it’s a sure-fire way to work up an appetite while giving back to the community.
Speaking of appetite, what would a Cape Cod Thanksgiving be without cranberries? Arguably our most prominent (and striking) crops grow in abundance this time of year and makes a perfect complement for countless dishes. One particularly palatable recipe comes from the kitchen of writer Jennifer Trainer Thompson, resident of Buzzards Bay. Made for Thanksgiving, this simple dish is a must-have for any respectable table on the Cape.

Butternut Squash with Cranberries

  • 1 (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and cubed

2 yellow onions, cut into 8 wedges2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil3 tablespoons melted butter2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary3/4 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1 cup fresh cranberries1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds 
InstructionsStep 1Preheat oven to 500°. Toss first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Spread squash mixture evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.Step 2Add cranberries, and roast 10 to 12 more minutes or until squash is tender. Toss with almonds, and serve immediately.
As we hear the echo of geese honking over our homes this Thanksgiving and look up from our bountiful plates out our windows, as we see their fading silhouettes flap hurriedly past the newly bare trees, give thanks. Give thanks for the warm dining room you feast in and for your loved ones beside you. Count your blessings and acknowledge that it really is quite a beautiful world we live in after all.