In the Kirkland family, we don’t have very many serious traditions. Sure, we do a lot of things related to the holidays, and we’re pretty consistent about it. But there’s one tradition that’s sacrosanct - Pie Night.
Pie Night was started more than fifty years ago by my grandmother, Marie Kirkland. It’s an obvious idea, really: you make a delicious pie the night before Thanksgiving, so you can eat it after Thanksgiving dinner. But really - after the turkey, after the stuffing, after too many potato-based dishes - is that the best time to appreciate pie? Wouldn’t it be better on Wednesday night?
And wouldn’t it be better if we had just one more pie?
So: every year, the Kirklands get together (it used to be at my grandma’s, now it’s hosted at Aunt Dale’s each hear), pies in hand. We have ham sandwiches (a minimum viable gesture at dinner, no matter how good the ham is), and then we dig in to PIE. There’s one pie for every member of the family, and we sample and share and discuss and compare recipes. It’s a celebration of abundance and our collective good fortune and blessedness.
It’s also the only Kirkland meal with a relatively closed-door policy! Every other big holiday meal at my grandparents’ house included guests - friends, coworkers, missionaries visiting home or foreign families experiencing their first US holidays. But Pie Night was always Glen and Marie’s clan only. No friends, no colleagues. Want to bring your new girlfriend? Grandma has to approve her first. That’s it! You know you’re officially a part of the family when you get your own pie, and you probably have a ring on your finger by then.
(The exception that proves the rule is a family friend who’s made it to every Pie Night I remember.)
When we moved away from the midwest, Erika and I threw our own Pie Night in Hong Kong, just for ourselves. The next year in San Diego we invited friends, and the year after that we moved it from the Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving to any convenient weekend in November. And man! It was great! From there, the idea spread (and why shouldn’t it?) There are at least ten big Pie Nights that we know about, from an open house to full-church events.
Now that we’re back in the Midwest, we double-dip a bit: often we host a Pie Night blowout at our place, then head to St. Louis to check in with the mothership. It gets just a little out of hand.
This year we tried an experiment - leave your kids at home, and make more room for adults. It was great! We had ~50 lovely people here from our different social circles, and it was great to see them overlap and intermingle. As always, it’s an incredibly heartwarming event for me, to see so many interesting people I care for all under my own roof, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Plus, all those people brought pie.