Thanksgiving – it’s a holiday about giving thanks, spending time with family (even if you’re still forced to sit at the kid’s table), and eating way too much with little remorse.
I personally am a big fan of Thanksgiving because the holiday has taught me two important lifelong lessons. The first lesson is that of acceptance. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be welcome in my family's kitchen. I didn't inherit the same cooking gene that has enabled my younger sister to produce amazing dishes year after year with my mom. I apparently don’t exhibit the natural talent they saw in my brother at an early age. No, I am asked to set the dining room table and half the time my sister re-arranges everything. However, I do get the privilege of sampling the delicious things that come out of the forbidden kitchen, like my sister's pumpkin bread. Mom, if you're reading this, I forgive all of you.
The second lesson is the importance of people coming together for the holidays. Every year my dad invites people from his office, who don’t have anywhere to go, to join us at our house for the meal I had no role in preparing. Yes, some years I am sitting across from a total stranger, but it’s become our (unconventional) family tradition.
Everyone celebrates the holiday in their own way and this year iMag’s team is sharing their Thanksgiving plans, memories, favorite recipes, and some crucial Turkey Day do's and don’ts. Have a Thanksgiving tradition, funny story or favorite recipe you’d like to share with iMag? E-mail us!
Noelle Watters – Gobble Gobble Humor
Our style guru and host shared some details of how she spends the holiday with her family.
• I yell at my husband for watching football.
• I complain that I ate too much and then eat more.
• I get annoyed that my aunt's stuffing is awful and yell at my mom for not making hers.
• I force my brother-in-law to make turkey drawings with his hand and then make fun of him that his hands are abnormally small.
Noelle also clued me in on some do's and absolute don’ts for the holiday.
• Do bring slippers or comfortable shoes. After a long meal, heels will seem less than desirable.
• Don't fight over the wish bone. It's for kids only.
• Do bring a token of appreciation for your host. I love bringing an orchard plant or even baking some Toll House chocolate chip cookies and wrapping them up with pretty foil and ribbon.
• Don’t use all of the gravy before everyone else has had some.
• Do eat! Thanksgiving only comes once a year. Enjoy!
• Don't leave the plastic bag with the neck, heart and gizzards in the turkey.
Check out Noelle’s tomato basil tart recipe.
Jessica Solloway – Holiday Travel Gone Awry
Our online editor-in-chief filled me in on her “best” Thanksgiving memory.
“I’m not sure that this experience was the best, but it’s definitely the most memorable. When I was in 7th grade, my family drove from Cleveland to New Jersey to have Thanksgiving with my grandparents. We had done this drive millions of times and it usually takes about six and a half hours. About three hours in, our car broke down in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania . Since it was the night before Thanksgiving, we would have to stay overnight in a hotel off the highway, or get towed home. We went with option B. The tow truck driver was straight out of a movie. First he took us to his house to get fuel. However, the house recently burnt down and all that remained out front (besides the frame of the house) was a creepy rocking horse. He then disappeared into the woods for a good 45 minutes to tell his wife (who was living behind the house in a trailer) that he was driving to Cleveland . My dad almost went back there to look for him because we were all so scared. Eventually he came back and the five of us hit the road – all crammed in the front seat together. He ate beef jerky the entire way home, told us he didn’t like foreigners (did he consider Ohio to be a foreign country?), and said he keeps several weapons in the back just in case he ever runs into trouble. Let’s just say, we were never happier to be home, and we were very thankful to be having Thanksgiving in Cleveland . Next year, we made the grandparents come to us!”
Colleen Guiltinan – Thanksgiving with the Guys
Our expert Guy Guide producer talks about football, food, beer (bread) and awkward slideshows.
"Every Thanksgiving my family and I head to my Aunt and Uncles in New Jersey . We typically arrive there in the early afternoon and I sit on the couch with my rowdy male cousins while they yell at the TV and watch football. Then the eating begins! My aunt makes this beer bread with a dip that is to die for. I usually eat so much of it that I am full throughout the afternoon. Then we have dinner with about 15 or so of our relatives. I still sit at the kid's table which consists of four of my 20 something cousins. I don’t think I'll get promoted to the adult table until I either get married or have kids. The night usually ends with my dad and uncle singing to Bruce Springsteen after drinking a little too much scotch. Then my chatty aunt Cathy forces my uncle to set up a slideshow of old pictures. Of course all the photos of me are from my awkward phase, my braces and bangs back then were very embarrassing."
Check out her chocolate cream pie and cheesy crab appetizer recipes.
Amanda Manno – Spending the Day with His Family
Our web-master talks about spending the day with her parents and fiancé's family.
"Well, since it's usually just the three of us, my parents and I have been spending quite a few holidays with my fiancé's family. He has a great big family and we always look forward to spending time with everyone because we know we are going to have a wonderful meal and lots of laughs.This Thanksgiving we are going to spend it at their summer home in Long Island . Having Thanksgiving out there this year is a new tradition for his family and I am really looking forward to it."
"If there is one thing anyone needs to know about my future in-laws, it would be that they LOVE food! When you spend Thanksgiving with them, you hit the mother load. Homemade pecan pies, cornbread stuffing, pasta, butternut squash soup, banana infused sweet potatoes...the list goes on and on. It's more than a meal. It's a feast fit for a king and perhaps, his entire royal court. I can see where my fiancé Sal gets it from. He absolutely loves food and he takes pride in what he eats! This year he is going to be deep frying two turkeys. He's made them before and boy are they delicious- so juicy and crispy! It's the only way to go!"
Check out Sal’s deep fried turkey recipe.
Meghan Franzese – Holiday Tunes
Our Love and Marriage producer reveals her Thanksgiving tradition (Christmas music and all).
"Every Thanksgiving, my father organizes a big football game at 8am for my brother, cousins, and friends. They gather at my house every year and my mother and I bake pumpkin muffins and make coffee and hot cider for all! While they are at the game, my mom usually has most of the cooking in progress so I help with making the appetizers and organizing things in preparation for 20 guests. At about 3pm, my mother's cousins come over with all their kids and we end up being a jam packed house with 20 of us. We proceed to eat everything in sight and have a few cocktails. Once the cocktails hit, the Christmas music starts! We have a full on dance party to Christmas jams! 'All I want for Christmas is You' ends up on repeat because it’s the most popular song. We get ready to watch a movie together, but in the last few years its been 'Greys Anatomy' instead. On the first commercial break we break out the leftovers! And it all starts all over again!"
Check out Meghan's pumpkin muffin recipe.
Click here to spend more time with the iMag team this Thanksgiving.