We also want to show gratitude to our customers and to our new country for letting us come, stay, grow bookstores and a family. According to a press release we sent out in 1991, “The past two years our store has celebrated Thanksgiving Day as an occasion of cross-cultural friendship and gratitude to our customers. In thanks, we give everyone a 10% extra discount this one day. This year we’d like to commemorate the Indians [how times have changed!], for whom Thanksgiving Day is not a happy occasion.”
That weekend in 1991, we held a Trading Post where Mohawk Nation and other related groups shared information, music and hundreds of books on First Peoples in the Fourth Floor Gallery above our Amsterdam store.
We hosted our first Thanksgiving Dinner in 1994, held in the Singel Kerk together with our AIDS buddies—a nod of respect to so many of our early colleagues who died from the disease. The dishwasher overflowed; it couldn’t handle all the leftover mashed potatoes, and panic took over the kitchen. Everyone was invited to perform music or share writing or a poem – a prelude to our Open Mike Night.
Once we rented the ABC Treehouse space in 1998, we were able to host a semi-potluck Thanksgiving Dinner the right way – with kids running around, wine spills on the floor, laughter and meetings of old friends and new. Once we tried a group sing-a-long. A basic menu was enhanced by the semi-potluck aspect – all diners agreed to bring an appetizer or dessert to share, keeping the price down. Beverage sales were donated to a good cause.
When we lost the ABC Treehouse, the dinner also had to go. Luckily, Gary Feingold of Café Bel Campo was willing to hold Thanksgiving there, with the same catering crew, same semi-potluck aspect.