Thanksgiving Traditions, Old and New

Today is one of my favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. I have so many fond memories of sitting around the dining room table with my family and enjoying the traditional feast of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce (the kind that “slides right out of the can”). Over the years, this tradition has evolved as school, work, and living across the country led to many nontraditional celebrations of the holiday, including  “Friendsgiving” (potluck-style Thanksgiving with friends), eating Thanksgiving out at a restaurant, and “Thanksgiving for Two” with just my husband.

One Thanksgiving that really stands out in my memory is from ten years ago. My brother Mike and his wife Kelly were living in Washington, D.C. and they took the train up to visit me in NYC, where I was attending graduate school. On the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, Mike and Kelly joined me at the Patagonia store on the Upper West Side, where I was working at the time. The store is located on Columbus Avenue, across from the American Museum of Natural History. We gathered upstairs in the store with several of my coworkers and  watched as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade floats were being inflated and prepped outside for the next day. What a sight to see! The next day, we had a traditional Thanksgiving meal at one of the cozy restaurants on Cornelia Street in the West Village. It really was a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving.

Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float prep in 2005

For the past eight years I have worked in the hospital setting, which means that sometimes I have to work on Thanksgiving day. When this happens, my family is always very accommodating and we celebrate on a different day. But my husband Jack and I have a little tradition of eating his famous “Holiday Cioppino” when I get home from work on Thanksgiving Day. This is a recipe we received with one of our wine pickups from Williams Selyem (they often include a recipe and recommend a wine to go with it). This year  we’re mixing it up even more by trying a different Williams Selyem recipe tonight (Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Herbed Cornmeal Rub), then we’re serving the cioppino on Saturday, when we will host my whole family at our home.

Holiday Cioppino for Two (Thanksgiving Day, 2011)

I still have a special place in my heart for the traditional Thanksgiving with the whole fam, around the dining room table, with turkey and all the fixings. But sometimes life gets in the way, and we have to improvise. And sometimes the results are fantastic.



What are your favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions? Have you ever had to break from tradition? How did it turn out?


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