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Culture / Entertainment

Now Hear This — Our Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions

Unconventional Holiday Fun With the PaperCity Dallas Office Staff

BY // 11.21.18

Everyone here at the PaperCity Dallas offices is still shocked that Thanksgiving is around the corner. What happened this fall? We seemed to have blinked our collective eye and missed a few months. Perhaps it’s been the maelstrom of events — including another amazing Texas Design Week — that kept us so distracted.

I decided to poll everyone to see if they had any old or perhaps new traditions that would be occurring for their holidays with family and friends. Thus, this week’s Now Hear This PaperCity office question: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

Wherever you find yourself this week — perhaps stuffing a bird while watching football or going full commando and strategizing an expedition to NorthPark Center — your friends here at PC wish you a happy and joyous holiday!

Christina Geyer, Dallas Editor in Chief

Of all the holidays, Thanksgiving is an odd bird (pun intended!) for me. Growing up in Southern California — in a family of people who didn’t really love turkey — our version of Thanksgiving usually revolved around my dad grilling filet mignon and the four of us (my mom, dad, brother and I) eating Thanksgiving dinner al fresco.

Football isn’t a big Geyer family thing either (unless you count our loyalty to the USC Trojans), so Thanksgiving didn’t revolve around the television — save for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which I still watch and get oddly emotional when Santa Claus makes his entrance. (I believe!)

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As we got older, Thanksgiving proved an excellent week for international travel. Several years have been spent overseas in Germany with my grandmother, attending the opening of the Christkindlesmarkt near our family home in Nuremberg — a kickoff for Christmas in the most over-the-top way. Often, actual Thanksgiving Day was spent eating Thai food in Germany at a restaurant our family loves, there. No joke.

And then, of course, there is Dallas — as there have been several occasions upon which I’ve stayed right here. When in town, I always celebrate the holiday with my so-called Dallas Family: Janet Gridley and David Schechter, and their son Henry. Janet is an interior designer and effortless in the kitchen — so not only does the house always look divine, but the culinary trappings are flawless, too.

This is, by the way, where I’ll be spending Thanksgiving 2018. Oh, and I’ll also be running the Turkey Trot, which should prove interesting considering I’ve never run a 5K.

Lisa Collins Shaddock, Senior Editor

I typically spend Thanksgiving with my family in Austin. My Yia Yia and her brother (my grand uncle) come in from Chicago, my mother designs her tablescape at least a week in advance, and we start early with a champagne toast before sitting down for a home-cooked feast. The spread, which consists of a whole turkey and dozens of other dishes — all family recipes, is prepared over the course of two days by my mother, grandmother, and sister. I am sometimes allowed to help.

This year, I am looking forward to spending Thanksgiving at my husband’s uncle’s house here in Dallas with most of his extended family, and then hopping on the Vonlane to Austin for the rest of the long weekend. My favorite tradition always takes place the day after Thanksgiving: decorating my parents’ Christmas tree while listening to The Nutcracker! Happy turkey day to you and yours!

Billy Fong, Culture and Style Editor

I lost my mom to cancer right after Thanksgiving 2016. Last year was particularly difficult for my dad and I. They had already moved into a retirement community over six years ago, so the last few holidays weren’t filled with massive meals and big holiday decorations.

This year my dad and I decided to create a new tradition. A good old-fashioned road trip. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida (where I grew up) and we thought a visit to St. Augustine wouldn’t be too unwieldy (it’s only about 3 ½ hours away). Our strategy is to wake up on Thanksgiving and start our drive. I am planning on downloading a few podcasts of the classic NPR show, Car Talk.

For those of you not familiar, it’s an award-winning talk show hosted by the hilarious and thoroughly knowledgeable Tom and Ray Magliozzi, also known also as Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers. Neither my dad or I are what you would call “gear-heads,” but somehow we have always bonded over this show for many years.

The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, we won’t be hitting any shopping malls and instead will be visiting a famous roadside attraction — the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park. It’s origins date back to 1893 when it was a small exhibition of Florida reptiles and then saw record crowds when post-War Americans took to their cars to explore the country that was opened up by new interstate systems.

During that era, lots of roadside attractions often featuring oversized items (see the world’s largest Jack-in-the-Box or ball of string) began luring folks to stop and take a gander. In those days, it was an old-fashioned camera shot images that were then turned in to slides to share with friends (not selfies on Instagram). Today the St. Augustine Alligator Farm functions as a modern zoo serving the public and the scientific community with educational shows and exhibits, important research, and worldwide conservation efforts.

Look for my selfies on Instagram however and not via a slideshow in December.

Rebecca Sherman, Home Design Editor

My mother cooked remarkable Thanksgiving feasts well into her seventies. She’d get up at dawn — after working all week as an advertising copywriter — and wedge a huge 26-pound turkey in the oven. She made cornbread stuffing and giblet gravy from recipes handed down from her grandmother in Arkansas. Her stuffing was fragrant and full of flavor — the secret was lots of poultry seasoning and more sticks of butter than you’d ever imagine eating.

Gathered in our tiny kitchen, my sister and I watched Mom make it start-to-finish every year, and we’d quiz her about the summers she spent in the Ozarks with her grandparents. We never got tired of the stories, even though we’d heard them over and over — like the time Mom got rheumatic fever and stayed in bed all summer while her grandmother fed her squirrel soup as a remedy.

I never imagined Thanksgiving without turkey and dressing until 20 years ago when we traveled to Minnesota to spend it with my brother. His homesick, Houston-born daughter broke rank and requested enchiladas. Turkey was served along with Tex-Mex that year, and after I got over the shock of it, I thought, why not?

Turkey was never my favorite meat anyway. My sister learned to make cornbread dressing and giblet gravy and kept the tradition alive wherever we spent Thanksgiving. A few years ago, we started having the holiday in Austin, where her daughter Supora lives, and new traditions have taken over.

The table is filled with family dishes from around the globe, all made by Supora’s international coterie of friends. Kai, her Shanghai-born boyfriend who was reared in Hong Kong, roasts a crispy imperial Peking Duck. Daphne from Monterrey, Mexico, makes a spicy potato dish with cascabel chili, which she tones down for us Americans. Yasmina, who hails from Ivory Coast where there’s a heavy French culinary influence, whips up all kinds of Gallic recipes including crème brûlée and her American hybrid favorite, mac ’n’ cheese with Brussels sprouts and butternut squash.

Turkey has totally disappeared from the Thanksgiving menu, and when that exactly happened no one remembers. My sister will make my mother’s stuffing recipe this year and we’ll all be gathered in the kitchen to make sure she adds enough poultry seasoning and not too much butter this time.

I like to think if my mother were still living, she’d get a kick out of her humble Ozark stuffing sharing the table with so many exotic dishes. And secretly, I bet she’d prefer Kai’s crispy Peking duck over her own turkey any Thanksgiving.

Hillery Stack, Dallas Publisher

This year marks a new Thanksgiving tradition: there is no more normal. For the last several years, my husband Mike and I have alternated celebrating turkey day with our families (Connecticut vs. Long Island), and since this is our first Thanksgiving as Texas residents, we are hosting my family here. My mother has never been to Texas, so that in and of itself is something to celebrate. Perhaps she will arrive back in New York with a pair of cowboy boots!

Mike and I are planning on busting out all of the stops: turkey trot in the morning, cocktails and appetizers around 3 pm, and then a full-on Thanksgiving feast around 5 pm. Some constants that will remain intact include: my father will watch the Detroit Lions football game in its entirety, we will all go around the table and say what we are most thankful for (and undoubtedly cry… all of us), and we will consume pounds of my mother’s famous stuffing and gravy.

Matthew Stafford’s a Super Bowl quarterback if Bill O’Brien is his coach.

Since I am new to this whole cooking thing, my mother was kind enough to ship down all the necessities, including her secret ingredients to make that stuffing So. Damn. Good.

Wishing everyone a magical holiday.

Linda Kenney, Account Manager

My husband Bill considers Thanksgiving the best holiday of the year. Why wouldn’t he? The man loves to cook and celebrate good food.

Of course we want the gastronomic excess of Thanksgiving without the guilt. And so we venture to Dallas City Hall every year and partake in the Turkey Trot. It’s great fun and for a great cause. The trotters are friendly and kind; we have made this a tradition for more than 20 years.

We return chez nous to prepare a traditional New England Thanksgiving dinner for family and friends. (Think bread stuffing with chestnuts and liver, and pumpkin pie made with brown sugar.)

However, this year we will be in San Diego for Thanksgiving. Bill will hand his torch to our son-in-law and a new tradition will begin. Happy Thanksgiving.

Mckenzie Carnes, Sales and Marketing Intern

 I am spending Thanksgiving with my family at our lake house, on Cedar Creek Lake. I love being on the lake. It is so peaceful, away from the hectic world we live in, and is perfect for family time.

On Thanksgiving, we spend all day cooking together, playing games, and take the picture for our Christmas card. But most importantly we never forget to make our Mimi’s famous pecan and pumpkin pies. She made these our whole life as we grew up, and we will never stop making these in her honor.

My family is super close. We cherish the holidays and this time we have together. I am so excited to be on the lakefront, sitting by the fire with a glass of wine, and making more memories with the ones I love.

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