A Day of Thanks



Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Yes, I love food. That’s a given. But really, what I love so much about the holiday is that it’s all about family.

As a child, we always went to my aunt and uncle’s house for the day, along with my grandparents and others in my extended family. After J and I married, we alternated spending Thanksgiving between J’s family and mine. We all contributed to the meal, and ate together – brothers, sisters, parents and cousins. And after the meal, we’d all go for a long walk.


Walking by the barn one snowy Thanksgiving weekend

(And may I say, my in-laws are incredible cooks, so each holiday meal tops the last. That goes for table settings and decorations as well.)

Last year, we headed off to Maine for the week, where we hiked all over Mt. Desert Island and dined like royalty. We had a blast, and plan to return for another holiday week in Bar Harbor another year.


Hiking with my family in Acadia National Park last Thanksgiving. Photo credit: (Uncle) Kreg Ulery

Thanksgiving to me is about spending time with loved ones. No matter the location, no matter the meal, no matter the activity, it’s about being thankful for what we have and one another.


It’s the most wonderful tiiiiime of the year!

I adore Thanksgiving. I grew up celebrating it (and every other holiday) with my raucous extended family and I’ve carried that feeling with me through the years even though we’re all spread out now. Wah. The great news is that Mister Jess’s family is local, so we often spend the day with them. We’ll be doing that again this year, and I fully anticipate enjoying everything I love about this holiday: good food, great company, lots of thanks and lots of laughter. What’s not to love?!

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. Gathering around a table to share food and conversation with my family fills me with warm fuzzies. It’s the perfect place and time to feel connected to my most important people.On Thanksgiving morning, my mom would make pumpkin pancakes and then we’d watch the parade on tv- something I do with my own kids now.
Getting ready to watch the Macy's parade on my middle baby's first Thanksgiving.

Getting ready to watch the Macy’s parade on my middle baby’s first Thanksgiving.

As a child, it was my job to make and set out place cards at our dinner table. My grandma would hand me a stack of cards and a fancy pen and send me to work. Now that my girls are old enough, I’m continuing the tradition. Last year, the girls and I made turkey place cards out of wine corks.

Last Thanksgiving, less than two weeks before Little Dude arrived!

Last Thanksgiving, less than two weeks before Little Dude arrived!

In the past we’ve hosted Thanksgiving, but last year, I was close to giving birth, and this year, our dining room has become a playroom for the kids. We’ll go to my in-laws to eat, but we’ll bring our Thanksgiving tablecloth- a tradition we began three years ago. We started with a white tablecloth, and each year, using fabric markers, we add a drawing, or turkey handprints for the kids (to see how they’ve grown) and a sentence about something for which we’re grateful.

My husband soothing our oldest girl on her first Thanksgiving- she was a little peanut at one month old! (She slept 7 hours straight that night. The longest stretch she would sleep until after she turned one. Yawn.)

My husband soothing our oldest girl on her first Thanksgiving- she was a little peanut at one month old!

I always make dessert. I’ve been planning my pie menu for weeks- can’t have just one, we need options!


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays although when I was younger it was difficult for me to pinpoint exactly why. I don’t really like turkey (I’m more of a sides type of girl). We never had a set house we went to – usually my cousins hosted it or my family did, depending on the year and the circumstances.

When I married Jay and started a family of my own, my in-laws began to host the holiday with great regularity and invite my parents each year to join in the festivities, too.


Thanksgivings of days gone by.

Since I’ve grown up and gained perspective, I’ve realized why it’s my favorite; Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what we have and furthermore, for helping those in need. Being that we don’t host Thanksgiving, our free holiday turkey from the grocery store is donated, along with other canned goods and non-perishable items. A holiday with the sole intention of being with family and helping other families? That is my kind of holiday!

Additionally, we celebrate Hanukkah so we’ll be partying it up Thanksgivukkah style!


My Thanksgiving traditions are pretty typical.  My large, Italian family gathers, we each bring a dish…I usually bring cookies, and we eat too much food and drink too much wine and laugh way too loudly..  And trust me when I say, in my family, food is no joke.


I mean, we have lasagna as a side dish.  For the last couple years, I’ve began the day of gluttony with the Claremont Turkey Trot.  Running the 5k first thing in the morning makes me feel less guilty about the large quantities of calories I’m about to ingest.

Sensing a theme here?

Sensing a theme here?

This year, however, I will not be running.  I will be participating is a special Thanksgiving R.I.P.P.E.D. class at T3 Fitness. Because I really, really love food and wine!


I have always loved Thanksgiving, both the day itself and the idea of a day to give thanks. My oldest memories are of going to my grandmother’s house. My Grampa, a truly wonderful man that I am thankful to have known, used to pay me if I could find lumps in the mashed potatoes. A nickle a lump, and he always made good on it.

As I got older, and our family grew, my mom started hosting Thanksgiving, I loved helping out with the prep. My specialty was mashed butternut squash with so much butter and brown sugar that my teeth, and my arteries, ache just thinking about it. We always wound up with extra people at our house, and it was always a special day.

My first Thanksgiving on my own was a hot mess. I had no idea how to coordinate it so everything was ready at the same time. My gravy was beyond gross. We lived in North Carolina at the time, where my husband was stationed, and anyone we knew that couldn’t go home for the holiday came to our place. So while the meal was not winning any prizes, we gave people a place to go, and that was something special. My years in the South gave me a love of Southern Cornbread Dressing and Sweet Potato Casserole.

I’ve hosted all but one Thanksgiving since we moved back to Massachusetts thirteen years ago. My cooking skills have improved, my menu has gotten bigger and more varied, and my guest list changes yearly, but the feeling of being surrounded by friends and family has been my constant. We’ve had years without Pumpkin Pie. We’ve had years where the pies outnumbered the guests (10 to 8). We’ve had years with snow, and rain, and sleet. But every year, I’ve had a day filled with good food and good people whom I love dearly.

For all the things I have in my life, on this day, and every day, I am truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

One thought on “A Day of Thanks

  1. Pingback: Chick Chat: We are Thankful | Scootadoot

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