Every Thanksgiving, families come together to celebrate the holiday with traditions both old and new. We asked our LifeCare Properties team members about their favorite Thanksgiving memories, recipes, traditions, and more.
Do you have any unique or unusual Thanksgiving traditions in your family?
Jeremy: Mom is one of 9, big Catholic family. So, our tradition is most of us no matter where we are in the world make it home for Thanksgiving. We usually have 100 people, and we always have more food than we eat.
Wendy: Five generations have gathered at our southeastern Louisiana family home for Thanksgiving. Besides traditional dishes that must be served, we have after-dinner traditions. Years ago, Generations 3 and 4 would go on a Mistletoe Hunt – shooting mistletoe out of the tops of trees with our weapon of choice. These days, Gen 3 sits on the porch rubbing their bellies and telling tall-tales about the Mistletoe Hunts of days gone by. Meanwhile, Gens 4 and 5 hike down to the creek bottom, somebody always falls in a mudhole, and by the time we make it back to the house it’s time to start eating again!
Deborah: Try not to gain 5 pounds in one day.
Share a funny or memorable Thanksgiving misadventure or kitchen disaster.
Adam: A funny Thanksgiving memory – while we were sitting down eating an early Thanksgiving dinner, our neighbor’s son (who was probably 8 or 9 at the time) drove by in his mom’s minivan by himself (we could barely see him in the driver’s side window). We watched as he drove up and down the street for 15 minutes. Later we found out he stole the minivan and decided Thanksgiving Day would be a great time to learn how to drive.
Jeremy: Our biggest challenge is where to put all the food for 100 people. Often, we have to make cold stations outside due to the kitchen being at maximum capacity.
Deborah: Gosh, where do I start with so many White Pillars Thanksgiving Day Buffets.
If you could invite any historical figure (living or deceased) to your Thanksgiving dinner, who would it be and why?
Brooks: My choice would be Sir Winston Churchill. Few figures in history have had the impact on the free world than Sir Winston Churchill. His early recognition that the German Empire was once again a major threat to all free people. My wife and I had the pleasure to visit the underground bunker and command center ‘The Churchill War Rooms’ of Sir Winston and his military and civilian advisors. The underground complex is located beneath the Treasury building in the Whitehall area of Westminster.
Jeremy: I would invite the late Benjamin Franklin, he would fit in well with the conversations, fun and beverages we favor during the day.
What’s your go-to strategy for dealing with post-Thanksgiving meal food comas?
Jeremy: Watch NFL.
Deborah: Watch college football and take many naps on the sofa.
Wendy: We go hiking or 4-wheeling.
If you could have a celebrity chef cook your Thanksgiving meal, who would it be, and what dish would you ask them to prepare?
Brooks: My choice for our guest celebrity chef to cook our Thanksgiving meal would be Chef Paul Prudhomme. We would start with Chef Prudhomme’s Cajun Crab Cakes topped with Oyster Béarnaise, a fresh watercress salad with spicy toasted pecans, a generous sprinkle of St. James Cheese Company blue cheese, slow roasted Turducken with Chef Paul’s famous corn bread dressing and for dessert, Chef Paul’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie.
Jeremy: Jose Andres, he has a great combination of creative and traditional cooking. I would love to see his take on a stuffing.
Deborah: It would have to be Emeril and his Oyster Dressing.
Wendy: It would be really cool if Chef John Folse dropped in to whip up some of his Crawfish Bisque!
What’s the oddest or most unexpected item you’ve ever seen served at a Thanksgiving dinner?
Jeremy: My family does a pink salad for Thanksgiving and Christmas, not even sure what it is but I think it is a southern dish with more diary than I can afford. In all the years we have served this dish I have never tried it.
Wendy: Let’s just say there’s a reason some cousins are asked to bring ice, drinks, or paper products. Bless their hearts.
Deborah: Chicken fried turkey breast – yack!
What’s the most outlandish or adventurous place you’ve ever celebrated Thanksgiving, and how was it different from a traditional celebration?
Brooks: As a small boy growing up in West Virginia, my grandparents treated our whole family to Thanksgiving Dinner at the Greenbriar Hotel. The meal was prepared by Master Chef Hermann G. Rusch and his staff. We had the remarkable opportunity to sample so many internationally famous foods, in the opulent Greenbriar Main Dining Room that was alive with Thanksgiving decorations.
Jeremy: We are lucky that in my entire life we only have had Thanksgiving away from our big family tradition once, during COVID.
Wendy: Waffle House. Don’t ask.
If Thanksgiving were a movie, which actors would you cast to play the main roles in your family’s Thanksgiving dinner scene?
Jeremy: The scenes from Christmas Vacation with the uncles, elders, dogs eating food is a fair comparison.
Deborah: Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Gabby, Trigger, and Buttermilk.
What’s your best advice for avoiding awkward debates at the Thanksgiving dinner table?
Adam: Open up another bottle of wine.
Jeremy: Focus on being thankful and enjoying the rare moments of family vs. the tension of spirited topics. So much more to discuss on this special day.
Daniel: Rule number 1: The Thanksgiving Day Parade and Football are the only safe options on TV that day. Say no to Fox News or CNN as those bring out the worst in folks in large groups. Rule number 2: Avoid the hot button issues in conversation. These are traditionally religion, politics, and there’s inevitably a family “know it all” who will feel like they need to opine on everyone’s life choices or actions – avoid those topics and people and you should come out of Thanksgiving dinner unscathed and have a relaxing time. If the above rules are broken by others and things get heated – you can always migrate to the recliner to watch Football or go sit at the kids table – it’s usually peaceful there!
Wendy: I redirect everyone’s attention to the untouched plate of cranberry sauce. Nothing moves my family to the same side of an issue faster than their shared disgust of cranberry sauce.
Deborah: Remove hearing aids.
Describe your ideal Thanksgiving nap location and position.
Jeremy: With so many people around, only a few uncles nap in a chair. I would enjoy a couch nap with football on if that was possible one day. I hope I never get to experience this.
Daniel: Once the dishes are done and crowds have cleared, fully extended on the couch would be my choice.
Deborah: On my back, snoring, and on the sofa in front of the TV.
Wendy: Curled up with a well-worn quilt in a hammock under our massive pecan tree.
Pecan, pumpkin, or sweet potato pie?
Brooks: Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, simply no desert so filled with complex textures and taste.
Adam: Sweet potato.
Jeremy: Good question, we are a big pie family. Derby pies are my favorite, which is a chocolate nut pie essentially. Pecan is a crowd favorite overall.
Daniel: It’s hard to beat a good classic pecan pie. Pumpkin is a close second, though.
Cranberry sauce, or no?
Brooks: Cranberry Sauce with Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge and a hint of fresh horseradish!
Jeremy: I do not eat cranberry sauce.
Wendy: Yes, please!
Deborah: It’s so good!
Share a Thanksgiving cocktail / mocktail recipe.
Jeremy: There is a bourbon cranberry cocktail that is popular in Kentucky for obvious reasons. Sugar, orange juice, orange peels, fresh cranberries, and some good Kentucky bourbon (Blanton’s for me).
Daniel: I’m a simple guy – a quality bourbon with a couple ice cubes while watching Thanksgiving football is just right for me.
Wendy: Autumn Rum Punch: 2c apple cider, 1c orange juice, 1c cranberry juice, 1 pint Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, 2 sticks cinnamon, 1 each pear and apple cut in bite sized pieces, 1 sliced orange. Combine ingredients in a pitcher and chill 1 hour before serving.
Deborah: Cranberry Pear Ginger Fizz (Cranberry juice, ginger beer, pears, and limes, garnished with some whole cranberries and rosemary sprigs).
Why is the kid’s table the best seat in the house?
Jeremy: With so many elders, our golden generation have the best table, room, place settings, first in line and waited on by all cousins all day.
Wendy: Back when we had a kid’s table it was always the best place to catch up on family gossip. Also, my nephews were perfect secret agents when it came to securing 2nd or 3rd portions of dessert for everyone at the kid’s table.
Deborah: Because they eat with without expectations.
From our family to yours, we wish you a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude, joyful memories and love. Happy Thanksgiving!