This year, like thousands and thousands of other families, the Grays found ourselves all over the world, quite literally, for Thanksgiving. Nobody came home to the Mission, and, at the same time, nobody was alone. With family members in NYC, Paris, San Francisco and LA, we came together, as we always have for Thanksgiving, over food.

Much has been made of food and social media: of how we are too busy taking photos of our food to enjoy eating it, as if somehow, the very act of taking the photos diminishes the flavor of what’s on the plate. Of how social media separates us, that we are obsessed with our electronics, connecting in a vast virtual world, rather than conversing face-to-face in the real world. Although there may be some truths in each of these theories, they are way too narrow in scope.

This year, coming together for Thanksgiving, for my family, meant sharing photos of food, texted to the “Fam” (read family) group chat we created in our iMessage app. As a chef, I take special pride in the meals some of my children, all grown, created for themselves, even if the number of people at the Thanksgiving table was just two. As a multi-cultural family, I was excited to see photos of the new dishes that were added to the usual suspect pool, fusing with the old to create new family food traditions. Through our shared photos, I think we all felt that we were together this Thanksgiving, just not at the same table.

Cienna (19): in college in New York City, cooked her first Thanksgiving dinner with a friend, in the kitchen at her dorm at Barnard. She took great care to duplicate the recipes we have used for years at home, and almost all of the dishes: from the Potatoes au Gratin to Roasted Brussels Sprouts, the requisite Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Topping to the Roast Chicken, it was all there.

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Andre (30) and his fiancée Scarlett, are living in Paris. Scarlett got me thinking about writing this post this with her message “Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope you all had a wonderful day. I’d love to see everyone’s feast photos! Miss you all!!”

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Armand (24) and his wide, Dani, spent Thanksgiving in Los Angeles, with her family, and shared photos of Peruvian tamales:

As for me, I am a private chef, so I had the pleasure of cooking for someone else’s family this year, made all the more special because I was able to cook up a sort of “North American Thanksgiving” menu, getting a little Mexican and Latin flavors into the mix.

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I, for one, was very grateful for the technologies which allowed all of us to share our meals. I never felt separated from my family for a minute, as they frantically texted for recipe tips and shared shopping lists and the fabulous end results.

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