November 20, 2012 at 11:00 am , by Julie Bain
To kick off the holiday season, we asked Journal staffers to share what they love most about Thanksgiving, that wonderful holiday that’s all about good food, friends, family and feeling grateful (with a little football thrown in). We know you’ll relate to these!
• My girls love to bake (that’s Lily and Sophia in action, right). Since I learned all my baking skills from my mom, they always like to whip up a sweet treat with their “Mimi.” This year they’ll be making my mom’s famous “spice cake” (don’t call it fruitcake!), which I was honored to write about for our December issue. The recipe is on page 106 if you’d like to try it too.
Sue Erneta, fashion editor
• Now that my sister, my cousins and I are in our twenties and living across the country, Thanksgiving is one of the few days of the year that we’re all together again, and my life feels about as simple as it did back when I was a kid.
Lauren Piro, assistant editor
• I love that I don’t have to travel on Thanksgiving. Family and friends come to us. It’s a great excuse to stay at home, eat and drink, and sit on the couch. What could be better?
Jeffrey Saks, creative director
• One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories happened last year. My family and I were sitting at the dining table. My mother was in the kitchen, and I heard her in say in a calm voice, “Gab, can you come in here?” I walked in and there was the turkey on the kitchen floor with its juices and grease splattered everywhere. My mom gave me a look that conveyed, “Help but don’t say a word!” (I was called in instead of my sisters because one of them would have fallen to the floor the laughing and the other would’ve shrieked; I’m the least dramatic of the three.) We picked up the turkey, quietly holding in our laughter, and scrubbed the grease off the floor. My mom fixed it up, carved it and served it. It was delicious. We didn’t tell anyone until later. Please note: My mother keeps her floors so clean you can literally eat off them!
Gabrielle Porcaro, associate fashion editor
• On Thanksgiving morning I play in our annual local neighborhood touch football game. It’s guys from their 20s to their 50s from two rival streets in New Jersey, and we play a pretty aggressive game. We all give thanks for Advil afterward! The spectators bring vats of Bloody Marys and donuts to kick off the eating and drinking. Then in the afternoon we have 20 to 25 people for a traditional dinner at our house. It’s a great day.
Bob O’Connell, art director
• Forget about playing touch football; it’s all about the traditional Thanksgiving soccer game in my extended family. After dinner, a group of us—ranging in age from 8 to 75, plus one enthusiastic dog—head outside for a fun, completely chaotic soccer match. By the time it’s over, everyone is out of breath, laughing and ready to go back inside to eat some pie.
Kate Lawler, executive editor
• My favorite thing about Thanksgiving Day is hearing the sound of a live band boom as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade kicks off the holiday season. The smell of turkey permeates the air. It instantly takes me back to my childhood. What’s most exciting this year, since I got married on May 11, is that I get to celebrate all of those traditions and create a few new ones with my husband in our home.
Joy Wingfield, research editor
• Seven years ago my wife challenged me to run the same five-mile Turkey Trot that she had run the previous Thanksgiving Day. So I took her up on it and together we ran it in one hour. That sparked something in me and resulted in my becoming a distance runner. Now I run two full marathons and several halves a year. But I never miss that Turkey Trot since it seems as though it is an old and trusty friend. It is my favorite thing about Thanksgiving.
Thomas Claire, associate managing editor
• My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is the chance to remember my Dad. He passed away four years ago, but every year we make a point to leave a space for him at the table. The first time my two sisters and I ate our turkey in tears, but every year it gets a little bit easier. After dinner we tell our favorite stories about him. It’s not that we forget about him the rest of the year, but it’s important to us to make a special effort when we’re all together for the holidays.
Amelia Harnish, assistant editor
• I really love our tradition of hosting a small gathering for my sister, her boyfriend, and any stray friends in New York. I love getting to fuss over place settings that would only be possible for a few treasured guests. [We're digging the feathers in your photo, Amanda!] I love cooking way too much food (and drinking a little too much wine), and I love that it’s a total mix of nostalgic must-haves—oh yes, we absolutely make green bean casserole, fried onions and all—and new favorites like a salted caramel-apple tart. I love playing Christmas music and decorating our apartment as a break from cooking during the day, and that our guests seem to really enjoy it too. I love playing Harry Potter Clue as a tribute to my mom, who made us play endless games of it for years (and of course we’d give anything to be forced into one more game with her now). I love that I get the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend to relax with my husband at home instead of standing in line at the airport. And mostly I love that we’ve taken pieces of all our different families’ traditions and made them our own.
Amanda Wolfe, senior editor and digital director
• My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is waking up to the smell of my mom’s homemade rolls (a secret family recipe) and then spending the entire day in the kitchen. Every single person in my family cooks all day long. My siblings and I grew up in the kitchen and it’s amazing that we continue to congregate there and pour love into every dish.
Bethany Porter, online editor, LHJ.com
• One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is that one of my best friends from high school visits and has Thanksgiving dinner with my family almost every year. Her family doesn’t usually celebrate, so she brings over homemade Indian food and we always look forward to seeing what new dish she’ll bring to the table.
Sonia Harmon, assistant editor
• For the last couple of years, I’ve somehow convinced my loved ones to cram into my petite New York City apartment for Thanksgiving. Although my job entails more than a little bit of cooking, there’s still nothing I adore more than preparing and hosting a mega-feast for my close friends and family. On the big day, my single-lady abode fills up with the smells of turkey and pie and stuffing as I set the table and eagerly anticipate the arrival of the most important folks in my life. When everyone’s present and enjoyed a cocktail or two, we all sit down for the main event. I do my best to pause and take a mental picture of all of us ready to dig in, packed shoulder-to-shoulder around the table. It’s probably the coziest memory I make all year.
Hilary Merzbacher, assistant food editor
• My favorite Thanksgivings were when I was a kid, before my grandfather died. His birthday was around the holiday so we’d have an elaborate meal at his house—turkey and all the trimmings. On Thanksgiving Day itself, my mom and three siblings and the dogs and I would be out in the country on a working dairy farm, in a tiny house overlooking a river. We’d have turkey again but in the most low-key, no-fuss manner imaginable, and we’d sit around playing board games and laughing. No stress, no expectations, no extra work. It was awesome.
Louise Sloan, senior articles editor
• I used to travel from New York to Dallas every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it just got to be too expensive and crazy to do both. I miss my family at Thanksgiving but luckily I’ve been adopted by friends who take in strays. The hostess is a food writer who cooks gorgeous food (almost) as well as my mom (had to say that!) and lives on Central Park West. I bring wine and walk through the colorful leaves in the park and think about how thankful I am to be healthy and live in the most vibrant, energetic, exciting city in the world.
Julie Bain, health director
• Thanksgiving was my mother’s favorite holiday. She loved hosting big gatherings, and often the holiday fell on her birthday, which made it even more celebratory. That was the case on November 23, 2006, the day she turned 80. The morning of Thanksgiving I called my mother to tell her I was dropping by to help her prep for our dinner. Years before, my sister had moved overseas and only visited once a year, usually in the summertime, but this year, to celebrate, she had flown in the night before to surprise my mother. On that morning I arrived with my sister and her husband. I’ll never forget the expression of surprise and joy on my mother’s face as she opened the door. That Thanksgiving she received the best birthday gift imaginable: having her family together.
Vivette Porges, photo associate
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