Sometimes, it’s difficult to get past all the challenges of daily life and really step back to acknowledge the fortunes. The Thanksgiving holiday presents a good reminder, providing us an entire day dedicated to reflecting on the blessings bestowed upon us.
It’s also a day marked by tradition—some passed down from generations prior, others newly-formed based on life’s transitions. Here’s a sampling of what Thanksgiving means to the White Space team and some of our favorite Turkey Day traditions.
Ilene Rosenthal: As someone whose grandparents traveled across the ocean for the privilege of living in America, this year is an important, but unusual, Thanksgiving for us. We are traveling to Dublin, Ireland to visit with Cara, our college junior, who is abroad for the semester.
Particularly in these times, where being an American is an even more important declaration, it’s strange not to be sitting around the table like the loud loving American family we are, living within the questions and answers of what we’re thankful for; namely, each other.
As the world evolves, and country changes, and our family circumstances change, family remains at the center
We will be traveling alone as a couple to visit one of our two children. To think that we will not be with Amelia, our college senior, who will remain at Grinnell College in Iowa for the holiday weekend... well, it’s almost impossible to imagine.
So as the world evolves, and our country changes, and our family circumstances change, family remains at the center. It's pretty clear that the Thanksgivings ahead will continue to evolve; possibly looking, feeling, smelling different from those in the past, but still made up of the same good stuff.
Bari Cener: Thanksgiving is “my” holiday, which only means that our house hosts the meal. My husband does all the actual cooking, leaving me to my Thanksgiving tradition of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, followed by March of the Wooden Soldiers, and then the Westminster Kennel Dog show. On the couch, in my pajamas, under an afghan until 10 minutes before people arrive at 5 pm.
Adrianne DelaRaba: If I had to pick one word to describe my Thanksgiving Day, it would be warm (literally and figuratively). I am truly thankful for family, friends and relationships. This used to be a nice catch-all you are supposed to say, but I can honestly say that I now appreciate and am so grateful for the people I have in my life. My life has evolved so much that our tradition has become being flexible. With moves, marriage and joining families, new babies, etc., Thanksgivings are different every year now. But, some things never change—like watching the parade and making sure I get plenty of my favorite dish (the stuffing!).
For our household, it's always been about family
Jeannette Castañeda: Thanksgiving is a purely American holiday. Though being grateful is something everyone can be, Pilgrims only landed in what is now the U.S. Latin Americans got conquistadors and priests, not pilgrims. Although I grew up knowing about Thanksgiving, it's not a holiday we celebrated when I was a kid. Since adopting the U.S. as my home a few decades ago, I've attended all kinds of Thanksgiving holiday dinners. Everything from traditional feasts in New England, to Californian vegetarian meals featuring tofurky, dairy-free mashed potatoes, and pies made with home-grown-pumpkins. I've loved them all! And that, for me, is the essence of Thanksgiving—feeling grateful for the wonderful variety of traditions and cultures coexisting together in one flawed but promising country.
Joyce Keisman: Thanksgiving has always been “that holiday,” when whoever doesn’t have a place to go or local family around is always welcome at our table. For our household it's always been about family, whether it is the one into which you’re born or your “chosen” family. Family, friends, and food are always a great combination. Lately I’ve been making my version of butternut squash soup, with a little bit of cayenne and a touch of honey (sweet and a little spicy). Then there’s my younger sister’s Pecan Pie, from deep in the heart of Texas. I’ve been fortunate enough—and thankful—to have had my kids around locally until recently. It's a time for us to reconnect with one another and come home.
Shina Neo: You’ve got to have stamina, stretchy pants, and a big appetite to keep up at our house on Thanksgiving. If you’re in the kitchen, you better be chopping, stirring, or helping in some way because space is precious and there’s no room for you to sit and look pretty. The TV is on in the background, Christmas music is playing in the kitchen, my pup is always barking, and it’s a beautiful, chaotic mess.
You’ve got to have stamina, stretchy pants, and a big appetite to keep up at our house on Thanksgiving
Friends and family start to arrive in the evening and dinner is usually around 7 pm (keep in mind, most of us haven’t eaten all day in preparation for this feast, so there are some hangry people). We sit elbow to elbow at the table and dive into a smorgasbord of 12-15 vegetarian ethnic dishes like deep-dish mac and cheese, Chinese spring rolls, channa masala, southern-style collard greens, and my mom’s popular tofurky (because turkeys are friends, not food). After dinner, you’ll find us strewn about the couch and living room floor, playing games and watching TV late into the night.
Sylvia Anderson: It’s funny how a tradition becomes so. When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was always at my great aunt and uncle’s home. Even though my aunt had prepared plenty of food, my uncle (her brother) always complained it wasn’t enough! After the meal, the “womenfolk” played card games or Chinese Checkers while the men watched football (well, in truth they were all napping in front of the TV). As a kid, you can’t see beyond that tradition. There’s a sense of “This will be like this, forever.”
Obviously, things change. I’m lucky to have formed a new Thanksgiving tradition, traveling to Hawaii to spend time with my sister and her family. From the beautiful landscape of the islands, I wish you all a happy turkey day (or tofurky, if that’s your style!).
Lisa Ellis: Thanksgiving in my home is a time for reflection and enjoying time with family. Most years we forego the tradition of cooking at home and instead celebrate in an area restaurant. One of our favorite holiday choices is an eclectic Greek place in Providence. It’s so nice to have a wide range of food choices (some of us select the traditional turkey dinner but others prefer salads and lighter fare) and we have a wonderful chance to people watch! It’s a great way to celebrate being together without any stress of preparation or cleanup.
This year is going to be wonderful
Ana Dial: Is it Turkey Day yet? Coming from a different culture, Thanksgiving is something that I grew up to enjoy and share with my family. It is when we strengthen our family bond and I am so thankful that we have each other. As a family of six (doggie included), we really like turkey and cook so much that we can have leftovers for a week. I can’t wait for my sweet potato casserole and fresh cranberry sauce! I am so, so thankful and grateful that my girls are having an amazing year in school and making new friends. And, our girls are having a surprise visit from three of their friends that arrive on Thanksgiving. This year is going to be wonderful.
Ron Wachino: It's early. I’m awoken, not by an alarm, but by the unmistakable smell of a turkey that, because of its size, has been tempting us since around 6 a.m. Coffee will, on this one day, get a dash of pumpkin spice because, you know, it’s Thanksgiving. Soon, the tranquility slowly slips away, replaced by the chaos of tables to be set, stuffing to be prepped, guests to be greeted. Another Thanksgiving. Another chance to think about what we’re thankful for. And what really matters.
Bernie Hogya: My first daughter was born on Thanksgiving Day. Needless to say, I had a lot to be thankful for that day. So, while most people have fond memories of family members carving 20-pound turkeys with all the trimmings, my fondest involved a hospital cafeteria, a turkey sandwich, and a smile from ear to ear.