It is 1 AM. The mini apple pies have been assembled and baked and are cooling in the kitchen. The serving dishes have been washed and dried and set aside. I have five million loads of dishes to do before our guests arrive so that everybody has clean plates, but instead I've been watching Gilmore Girls all night (season two! tell me that la-la-la background singing eventually goes away?) and eating millions of frozen mini Twix bars and texting with my sister, who is about to take a red eye to NYC so she can sleep on my couch and update me on the various goings on of all the Kardashians. Yay for my sister and yay for Thanksgiving! 

I think Thanksgiving is my dark horse favorite for the holiday top five. I don't know. Parade, dog show, beige foods, maybe a bike ride through the neighborhoods later once we're no longer comatose, then scouring the corner tree lots for THE TREE OF OUR LIVES. I love this week. I even love making that dang crimson jello even though I manage to screw it up in new and different ways every blasted year. 

I was planning on sharing my favorite Thanksgiving side dish recipe in its own pretty post this morning, with pretty pictures to go along with and all kinds of elaborate step by step crap, but instead, Gilmore Girls. 

And then I was going to post another post later this evening, sort of an "I'm grateful for blah blah blah" type deal that you're used to reading by now from bloggers, plus a round up of a few of my family's favorite places to give service + donations during this time of year, but instead, Gilmore Girls.

But! Rather than admit defeat! We're just going to make this work. So. First you're going to read my thoughts on junk, and then about a few neat opportunities for holiday giving that my family have done in the past, or that I've been collecting in my inbox and researching online, and last I am going to send you off with my famous recipe for sweet potatoes. You have just enough time to include them in your menu for tomorrow! (Today!) (I am so unprepared you guys!) I don't really have a pithy name for these sweet potatoes yet. But they do involve mini marshmallows. So don't let me down!

Well, first this is what I want to tell you, is that I am a terribly lucky brat with a lot to be thankful for always, but especially this year.

This year I am grateful for fresh starts. I am grateful for recognizing when things are going in a dumb direction, and the unending capacity we have as humans for growth and renewal and for screeching on the brakes and going--wait, hold up.

I am grateful for our friends. I'm grateful for lost friends who found their way back. I am grateful for friends we see occasionally and for friends we see weekly on our standing Taco Thursday night. I am grateful for my baby's school. Oh my gosh, my baby's school. His amazing teacher, and the boys in his class (Huck is one of six kids in his class. Just six! All of them boys, all of them the sweetest in the world. Huck's teacher calls them "the fellas." Does that not make you grin till your face hurts?)

I'm so grateful for Brooklyn! And for good careers. And for the kind of family that you get giddy over seeing.

Mostly, I'm just really grateful for my boys. I have good ones. I'm so thankful for this chance I have to (sometimes poorly, I might add) juggle all of these wonderful roles that I've got. Wife, mother, lover, friend, writer, debate partner, mortal enemy, buddy, loader and unloader of the dishwasher, daughter, sister, planner, collaborator. Slow email responder. Clothes-wearer. Over-obsessive thinker.

I'm lucky to find myself in a position where I can do things, small stupid things, but things that somehow make things better. I'm grateful for the kind emails from readers, strangers but best friends at the same time, and the encouragement they so lovingly give. I'm so lucky. You know, I once got an email from a teenaged reader who said my blog helped her to stop cutting herself. It floored me. I'm floored every time I think of it. And I think of that girl and that email nearly every day. I think that if nothing else, then this whole blog is hers. It's for her. And gosh. I mean . . . gosh.

Since our thoughts naturally seem to go this way during the holidays, here are a few of our favorite places to give, both during the holidays and all year round.

Sanctuary for Families: Provides services to domestic violence victims, sex trafficking victims, and their children.

City Harvest: Helps feed the more than 1.4 million New Yorkers facing hunger each year.

Coalition for the Homeless: Providing housing, food, crisis services, job training, and youth programs to give homeless kids the support they need to keep up with their peers at school.

New York Cares Coat Drive: 'Tis the season to help keep our neighbors warm and healthy.

The ASPCA: We can't forget our furbabies.

Brooklyn Toys for Tots and The Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, for locals.

It is now 2 AM. And So. The moment you've all been waiting for  . . . The Sweet Potatoes.

Natalie's Buttermilk Sweet Potatoes 
(this title needs work)

6-10 sweet potatoes, peeled, diced, boiled, and mashed
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
mini marshmallows

1. Prepare your sweet potatoes, mash 'em as best as you can, no I don't have anything fancy I use a fork.
2. Add sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, cinnamon, and baking powder. Stir to combine.
3. Once cooled, add the eggs, beaten. Stir to combine. 
4. Pour potato mixture into a casserole dish and bake in a 350 F oven for 20 minutes
5. Remove from the oven and top generously with a sick amazing layer of mini marshmallows. GO FOR BROKE, YOU GUYS. Return to the oven and monitor it closely. You want to remove it as soon as the marshmallows have browned and puffed up. Sometimes this takes about 10 minutes. You can use the broiler if you want, but be prepared that will make it go a lot faster, so no bathroom breaks. (You could also kitchen torch the sucker, you fancy.)

This dish happens to be the best dish ever, and tastes particularly amazing cold, fresh from the fridge. Leftovers! Oh leftovers!

Well, I'm finished now. Hey but what kind of Thanksgiving blog post would this be if I didn't end it a la Rose-That-Is-A-Great-Name? ("So sign already!")

I mean it. Happiest to you and yours. I love you! No but I do!


  1. I just love you! Have a blast with your sister and have a happy thanksgiving!!!

  2. Lovely post, but mini marshmallows in a potato dish? Seriously? To go with turkey and all that? You Americans are just cray cray with the sugar!!! Saying that, I bet it tastes incredible though...hmmmm :-)

  3. Watched You've Got Mail for the zillionth time last night. That Zabars scene kills me. To the mattresses!! Happy Thanksgiving to you (you wonderful person you) and your sweet family all the way from Texas.

  4. You've Got Mail recently came back on Netflix and it was THE BEST DAY EVER. Happy Thanksgiving back.

    And, hey. Don't feel bad. Gilmore Girls > everything else that exists.
    (it's just the way it is!)

  5. seriously? what an honor that email must have been! and so touching! happy thanksgiving. thanks for always keeping it real. and i'll definitely be donating...if no other reason than to get that uber adorbs kathleen kelly tote an your signed book!

  6. You are the giving queen to all of us bloggers. HAPPY THANKSGIVING Holbrook fam! SO much love from UTAH.

    Erika Wynn

  7. Three cheers for middle of the night blog posts on Thanksgiving Eve! I wrote one myself, although I was watching While You Were Sleeping, not Gilmore Girls. Also, pumpkin pie instead of apple, and San Diego instead of New York, but you get my point. Happy feasting to you and yours! May your pies be flaky and your stuffing bountiful.

  8. My husband and I are part of a rare group. My husband is a 40 year old military officer and skateboarder and I am a 35 year old military wife, photographer, and aspiring theatre set designer. I say this because that is how we decide some charities to donate to. First we give to skateistan, an organization that builds skate parks in Afghanistan and Cambodia, "using skateboarding as a tool for empowerment,", it's a great organization.
    We also give to Operation Homefront, an organization that helps military families in need.
    Another great organization is Operation Love Reunited, It is a group of photographers that take professional photos of military families that are getting ready to deploy, the spouse is currently deployed, or at homecoming ceremonies free of charge. I am not sure there is a way to donate but they always need photographers willing to give their time and talents.

  9. Happy Thanksgiving Back Natalie! Although the idea of sweet potato and marshmallows makes me squirm (sorry, i's the Aussie in me), I'm sure it is delish! Anyway, since the day I discovered your blog I have fallen in love with your honestly, the trivialities you document so well (I say this in the nicest way as well), I love it, so thank you Natalie for continuing to blog and write. I donated (I love coconut milk!) and am so looking forward to your book next year. All the best.

  10. A lot of sweetness here to be commented on...but I also have to comment on the extreme detail in those mini apple pies. That's a cupcake tin, right??? How did you lattice them so tiny? They are adorable and I'm sure they were delicious!

  11. I seriously love Gilmore Girls.. by season 4 you should be singing the la la la la's
    I have all seasons at home and they are definitely a distraction from my list of to-do's.
    haha Happy Thanksgiving!! Hope it was a good one :)

  12. As a mother and lover of all babies, a charity that I support is where nurses visit low income mothers who and teach them how to care for themselves and their babies. Statistics show that the lives of the babies are improved, and the mothers have nurses who can offer them advice and support-I think all new moms need that, and some people aren't lucky enough to have family or friends to fill that role. Ps love Gilmore girls- I can watch that show over and over :)

  13. oh, the glorious la la la's of gilmore girls! soon they will make your heart feel all warm and mushy like. i grew up on that show, and it is now the bane of my student existence. curse you netflix, god of procrastination.

  14. I love the Heifer Project ` Where else can you give bunnies as gifts and help people feed themselves?

    I love the charity navigator - This helps me decide if my money is being used wisely. Thanks for this.

  15. Your book!!!! In a Kathleen Kelly tote?? Does it get any better than that!!!! ** insert an obscene amount of clapping hand emojis **

  16. Gilmore Girls. Thank heavens I am not the only one using them as an excuse currently. They should have put them on Netflix in like February. We have nothing to prepare for in February. Hoping you had a swell Thanksgiving and perhaps these sweet potatoes will be made for a random Tuesday some time soon!

  17. Just wait till season 4 and the pink coat! Gosh, I google that coat every time I re-watch that season.

  18. For me I tend to donate to more of research and cure based charities for detrimental diseases. -Hanna Lei

  19. Gah!!!! you're Coconut Mylk thing is all sold out!!!! Dang it.

    And I don't really have the money for charitable giving this year but I do feel good that in this past year I've donated about 4,000 oz of pumped breast milk to a regional milkbank. It gets screened & pasteurized and then shipped out to hospitals so it can be given to premies in the NICU. Gotta help the wee babies! :-)

    Nicole @ I am Honey Bee

  20. Fun Fact: The Gilmore Girls la la las...which I actually love...are written and performed by Sam Phillips, former wife of T-Bone Burnett and successful singer/songwriter.
    You're a good one, Natalie Holbrook. Happy everything!

  21. The ASPCA has really improved- they used to very generously overpay their execs, if you know what I mean. Their score is 83 now. Not bad.

  22. @nic010205- Thank you so much for donating your breastmilk to NICUs! My daughter was born at 25 weeks in July and received donated breastmilk for her first few months in the NICU (we're still there). I couldn't use my own milk due to some of the medications I take. I really appreciate milk donors! Wish I could give you a hug!

  23. You may want to read this before telling people to donate to the ASPCA.


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