Family traditions take place throughout the year, however, during the holidays they seem to be more special and meaningful.
We asked a few folks who live and work in DeKalb County to share the traditions they are looking forward to engaging in with their relatives this Thanksgiving, and their responses are diverse and heart-warming.
Just a silly song
Each morning Dan Vanderkooy brings his wife a cup of coffee. However on Thanksgiving Day morning that cup of joe is accompanied by a song. According to Leah Vanderkooy the Turkey Trot song is the little ditty that the couple sing to each other to start their day.
She calls it a silly tradition but an endearing one that the pair have shared for 11 years.
“It’s just our own little thing,” said Leah.
Leah, who works with DeKalb Medical Center’s Senior Spectrum program, said that while she and her husband travel to Florida to spend other holidays with family, they have reserved Thanksgiving as a day for just the two of them.
She said she prepares a traditional feast—with plenty of Willie Nelson Christmas caroles as background music—while she fixes her mother’s stuffing and attempts not to repeat a culinary mistake with the turkey.
“It’s our own little adventure that day,” said Leah.
Carrot soufflé and photo time
Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Hillary Dunson’s carrot soufflé, her mother’s autumn bisque and her sister-in-law’s homemade cranberry sauce. These—along with the turkey and other trimmings–are non-negotiable dishes for the Scarbrough/Dunson family.
Dunson, whose husband Bernee operated a dental practice in DeKalb County for a number of years, said the annual gathering is one of the joys of the holiday season.
This year the gathering—which rotates from metro Atlanta to Florida (where her mother and oldest brother live) to Philadelphia (where another brother resides)—takes place in Orlando. Her mother has rented a house to accommodate the rambling family.
In addition to feasting, they plan to visit Disney World and Universal Studios. And the women of the family will also have their ladies night out—something that was started years ago when their children were all small and the women knew they would have their hands full cooking and keeping watch over the youngsters. Now that many of the kids are grown or old enough to watch themselves, the men of the family have been invited to come along for the fun—the night before all the cooking takes place.
“We go out to a restaurant and eat, drink and be merry,” said Dunson.
One of this family’s treasured traditions is the taking of a family portrait the day after Thanksgiving. They usually wear coordinated colors and hire a professional photographer.
Her family’s health and togetherness is what Hillary Dunson is most thankful for this year.
Gather ‘round the table
For Eric and Nancy Norwood of Dunwoody, one of the biggest challenges on Thanksgiving is getting everyone comfortably seated for the traditional holiday feast.
With six children—ranging in age from 13 to 32–a couple of in-laws and four grandchildren, the Norwoods have quite a crowd.
“If the weather is nice we spill out onto the deck,” commented Eric Norwood in an e-mail.
But that makes it all the more enjoyable.
Nancy prepares the turkey and homemade yeast rolls and everyone brings something to add to the table such as veggies and desserts, according to Eric, who is the administrator and CEO of DeKalb Medical Center.
However, while turkey and the fixings take center stage on Thanksgiving, it’s the day after when another culinary treat is prepared.
Nancy uses leftover yeast roll dough to create a deep-fried treat called “puffs,” which “puff up like a pillow and go great with syrup and powdered sugar.” The puffs tradition came from Nancy’s mom, and is now being passed down to daughter Rachel and daughters-in-law Carly and Christina.
As for what Eric Norwood is most thankful this year: for daughter Rachel and her husband Aaron expecting their first child in May 2011.