Making a Memorable Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is perhaps the most beloved American holiday. It’s a time to be with family and friends, to eat turkey and pumpkin pie, and maybe watch some football. But for those hosting the big event, it can be stressful to plan the menu and create the “perfect” holiday. Well, we’re here to prove that it doesn’t need to be “perfect” (whatever that means) because when your kids grow up and think about Thanksgiving, they won’t remember the time you spent picking the perfect napkins and tablecloths, they’ll remember the little moments.

We asked our team what they remember from their Thanksgivings growing up. Sure, they remember the turkey and the pumpkin pie, but their strongest memories often had nothing to do with the food or the decorations. From turkey drawing contests in the local newspaper to making turkeys out of ice cream, sometimes the smallest things made the biggest impact. So let all that planning and pressure just melt away - before the ice cream turkeys do.

Nicole Ledoux

NICOLE LEDOUX | Co-founder & CEO

“When I was a little kid, we had a hay wagon for my dad’s antique John Deere tractor. My dad would hook the hay wagon up to the tractor and drive my whole extended family - aunts, uncles, cousins, both sets of grandparents - around town. He drove us all the way through the center of North Brookfield, which was miles away, with a 1950s John Deere tractor. We sang Christmas carols in the back of the hay wagon and we’d all be under blankets and people in the town would honk and wave. We were the crazy Ledoux family. And then if it was cold enough and the pond froze over, we would later have very competitive ice hockey games on our skating pond. My dad built a bonfire on the frozen pond while we played hockey. It was definitely a very farm Thanksgiving.”

Rob Dalton

ROB DALTON | President & Co-founder

“We used to go to my mom’s mom’s house, Nana. My mom is one of eight kids, and all of her siblings are married with kids, so growing up it was a mecca of cousins at Thanksgiving. My grandmother made these molasses cookies that she put in old reusable tin cookie jars and she also had these no bake cookies with coconut and cocoa powder that were to die for. All the kids would usually hang out in the basement of my grandfather’s workshop and mess around with his old tools. My grandfather spent his entire life working at the Weymouth shipyard during World War II when they were building all the destroyer ships. So he lived near the Weymouth shipyard, and as a kid on Thanksgiving, we would take a walk down there - to what we always called “the beach”.

Now with Nicole and Emmett, every year we go out to the farm where Nicole grew up. We’ll do walks in the back trails, take the tractor out for rides, Emmett will want to work and stack wood. If there are fallen trees in the backwoods we’ll have to break out the chainsaw. Emmett always wants to make a fire out of the wood. It’s a much smaller gathering than what I experienced growing up, but equally as awesome.”

Andrew Slap

ANDREW SLAP | Discovery Partner Specialist

“We played football at the school down the street and when I was older there was a local high school football game we went to go see. I joke about this with my two brothers now because as the years go on, not everyone can be there for Thanksgiving. So instead, we call our cousins on speakerphone and pass the phone around to make small talk one-by-one with 15 sets of eyes watching the whole thing. Now, I appreciate it more when everyone’s back for the holidays and both of my brothers are there. Growing up, you live with them so you take it for granted - it’s nice to have us all together at one table again.”

Dayna Scandone

DAYNA SCANDONE | Marketing Manager

“My mom cooks incredible food. My sister cooks, my dad cooks, I cook - we’re all in the kitchen together. It’s more a day about cooking than eating. We eat wicked late in the day and we’ll usually try to get a little walk in, like to the Duxbury Bridge or around a cranberry bog nearby. I really like that because we get to think about all the delicious food we want to eat. There’s no expectations. We don’t have to get dressed up if we don’t want to. There’s no set menu we have to stick to. It’s just whatever we want to do, however we want to show up. We just cook the food we like to eat, and sit down together and enjoy it.”

James Valdez

JAMES VALDEZ | Brand & Marketing Co-op

“We always had queso that my aunt made - it wasn’t even a special recipe, it was just Velveeta cheese I think, but it was so delicious to me. And now it tastes nostalgic. We also had turkey and ham. Oh, honey ham! You know what I used to do as a kid? When my mom was cooking the honey ham, I would always try to sneak past her and slap the ham. It was like a game - they would have to catch me slapping the ham before I did it. I was very little. I think it’s been four years since I’ve been home for Thanksgiving, so I cherish it a little more every time I do get to go home. Now I know Thanksgiving isn’t just a family thing, it’s a thing you celebrate with people around you that you’re close to.”

Sara Torres

SARA TORRES | Customer Service & Office Manager

“I always got two Thanksgivings because my parents are divorced. Usually with my mom, we would go to a restaurant because my mom doesn’t really cook. We went to any place that did any type of Thanksgiving buffet. For my dad’s side, my step-mom makes all the food, it’s more or less a traditional Thanksgiving meal, which is nice because that’s the first time we’ll see each other all year.”

Andrew Bauer

ANDREW BAUER | Strategic Account Manager

“My aunt would show us how to make turkeys out of ice cream. We did a scoop of ice cream, then we took the tootsie roll and formed it into a neck and head and stuck that in front. Then we used cookies and candy corn as the wings and feathers. I’m sure there was more to it than that, but it looked really cool. We just ate them right away and snacked on the rest of the toppings while we ate them." 

Tracy Manty

TRACY MANTY | Director, Partner Analytics & Field Marketing

“My father liked to cook a lot. He makes the best stuffing with pork, bread crumbs, and Chinese vegetables. I don’t even know what the vegetable is but it’s some kind of pickled vegetable. We also had a nice big dining room table and another typical Chinese thing was that my dad bought a big giant Lazy Susan to put on top of it. We’d have all the dishes on the Lazy Susan and spin it around to get our fixins. Food was always the central part. No fights. No football. We would just hang out and enjoy time together.”

Blair Kendrick

BLAIR KENDRICK | Design & Customer Experience Manager

“We always watch football even if the Patriots aren’t playing, which they never do on Thanksgiving. We would always go to my grandma’s house. Swedish meatballs have to be made because we’re super Swedish. It’s a very specific recipe they use, I don’t even know it. My grandma always did the meatballs and the chex mix. Yeah, homemade chex mix was always the thing.”

Hannah Meier

HANNAH MEIER | Nutrition & Education Lead

“I always knew Thanksgiving was coming up because we would get the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis-St. Paul newspaper that came out the Sunday before. It had a big turkey that you could color in or craft with. Then you would mail your turkey art into the newspaper and on Thanksgiving day they would print all the best ones. Then we would always watch the Macy’s Day Parade in our pajamas. Mom would be in the kitchen getting the food ready. We always had the same sides every single year - green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, wild rice stuffing, which is very Minnesotan. The more recent Thanksgivings, we’ve done a turkey trot, which is a newer thing. We did not grow up being very active on Thanksgiving but now we tend to be - well, we try to be a little bit.”

Sam Jones

SAM JONES | Nutrition Communications Lead

“Every Thanksgiving growing up, I would wake up and my dad was already cooking - he was the chef of our family - and my mom would be cleaning and decorating the table - she’s an artist. They always had Tracy Chapman playing, so every time I hear Tracy Chapman now, I’m brought back to sitting in the kitchen on Thanksgiving and watching or helping my dad cook while my mom fussed about with the decor. We always did this cheesy thing of going around the table and saying what we were thankful for that year. But I like cheesy. Then, after dinner we always went on a walk around our neighborhood, then came back and ate pie. Now that I can’t make it home for the holidays, I try to carry on those little traditions every year, no matter where I’m celebrating.”