Blog Post

Let’s Talk Turkey: WebPT Thanksgiving Traditions

As we approach Thanksgiving, we’re sharing a few of the treasured traditions WebPTers take part in with friends and family.

Mike Willee
5 min read
November 23, 2022
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I’ve always thought of Thanksgiving traditions as snowflakes: each unique in countless tiny ways, and yet each as beautiful and as important as another. (Also, depending upon where you live, you might already be knee-deep in actual snowflakes by Thanksgiving.) In that spirit, we’re sharing a few Thanksgiving traditions offered up by our WebPTers to let you see how others celebrate, and perhaps give thanks for the comparatively reasonable number of people you have to cook for each year. 

Tina Brooks, A/R Specialist

Each year we host my family, as well as my husband’s, and cook the whole meal. In the past we’ve done both fried and baked turkey, as well as a turducken, which is exactly what it sounds like! Most years, though, my husband enjoys smoking the turkey—we got him a wood smoker a few years back and now everything gets smoked, including the pumpkin pie. We usually have two kinds of potatoes as well, because we can never agree on one. 

The day is filled with lots of family and music, and of course the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year we’re planning to include some games for our younger family members, including my two-and-a-half years-old son and our friends’ kids, who are anywhere from 18 months to five years old.    

Jesse Hoffmann, Software Engineer

Every Thanksgiving my family runs the local turkey trot 5K in the morning. It started out as just our immediate family, but over the years has grown to include both our extended family as well as friends. It’s been a great way to kick off our Thanksgiving—and to burn some calories before our big feast in the evening!

Greg Ingino, Chief Technology Officer

Our family gathers together every Thanksgiving, and for years we’ve followed a tradition started by my grandmother and observed for the last 50 years. Before we eat, each person is given three kernels of corn, and as we go around the table, everyone has to offer three things they’re grateful for that year. 

Our traditions have changed somewhat since I married my wife four years ago. My wife is Filipino, and because they don’t celebrate either Halloween or Thanksgiving in the Philippines, Christmas decorations tend to go up in October—which means that in our house, Christmas is in full swing by Thanksgiving, complete with lights and a tree. So if you’re ever at the Inginos, you can enjoy what we like to call “Christgiving!”     

Maria Angulo, Onboarding Specialist 

My siblings and I started a family tradition three years ago, where we do our own Thanksgiving dinner the weekend before Thanksgiving—no aunts, uncles or cousins, just my parents, my siblings, and their kids. We divide up the cooking responsibilities for the sides, along with a turkey and a ham. We do activities with the kids before having dinner, then round out the evening by watching movies. It’s a great time for us to get together and bond, and by having our own gathering early, no one has to leave early to head to another Thanksgiving dinner with our partners’ families.   

Michelle Riggan, Billing Onboarding Specialist

For many years I would take the week of Thanksgiving off and fly to San Antonio to visit my family and friends. I’d have a daily schedule for the week, including a trip to a historical site in the area as well as a trip to the local theater to see whatever movie had come out Thanksgiving week. Unfortunately, I lost my dad three years ago, and the tradition stopped. 

This year will be the first that I’ve taken the week off since my dad passed. My husband and I will be doing the daily traditions that my dad and I started, but here in Arizona instead of San Antonio.  This year’s movie selection is the Korean War drama Devotion—fitting, given that I’m an Air Force brat because of my dad, and we share a love of military movies! It’ll be bittersweet, but I’m looking forward to continuing my holiday traditions in new ways. 

Kevin Lee, Systems Administrator

Since the early days of my childhood, Thanksgiving has always been a special time filled with happiness, thanks, great food, and Christmas decorations. For whatever reason, our family has always spent time decorating the house for Christmas before settling down for turkey. This was a tradition that somehow carried on even when I turned 18 and moved out. My parents would continue decorating with my brother, and I would join them in the years I was able to fly over. 

This year, Thanksgiving is particularly special—it will be the first time in two years that I fly over to California from DC, and the first time I am flying over with my wife, who I married this year. And it’s the first time in two years that this tradition resumes, as my mother’s passing from leukemia put a pause on holiday spirits. I for one am looking forward to climbing up the roof in two weeks to hang lights!

Breanne Krager, Sr. Content Marketing Manager

Although I don’t get back to my home state, Michigan, as often as I’d like for Thanksgiving (I tend to save the holiday travel for Christmas-time), I still think of the traditions taking place whether I’m there or not. Here’s what typically happens:

  • My dad, the oldest of eight, and his siblings determine who will host Thanksgiving (oftentimes we draw the lucky straw, which I’m always excited for even though it requires some additional chore work on my brothers’ and my ends).
  • We determine who will bring what to the party. My mom is always in charge of pies and my grandma always provides the turkey and her stuffing (which she won’t give out the recipe for).
  • The family arrives to the pre-selected house at around 1 PM for a dinner that’s promised for 2 PM (but is never ready until 4 PM).
  • Before digging in, we form a circle and go around the room saying what we’re thankful for. I’ve yet to see this accomplished without someone tearing up.
  • We eat, then eat some more, and then eat again—mostly to drown our sorrows after yet another Lions’ loss.
  • Someone busts out the holiday slush and we get down to why we’re all really there—Euchre, Schmier, and “marbles” (our take on Aggravation using a homemade wooden board).
  • One by one, people pack up to make their way back home—all except for one of my uncles, who tends to stay until about 2 AM.

John Wallace, SVP, Revenue Cycle Management

It’s all about family and food! For the last 46 years our family has done a grand potluck, although we do provide a smoked turkey and possibly a deep fried turkey or two if enough people are coming. We’ve added a few vegetarians to our mix over the past ten years, so I also make some smoked vegetables that I then turn into a giant vegetable curry. 

There’s something for everyone’s interests as far as activities, with football on in one room, crocheting and needling going on in another, and a few cigars being smoked out back. Everyone has to spend a bit of time in each room—which is priceless on its own!

Ashley Glover, CEO

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday by far. Growing up, we always went to Arkansas for Thanksgiving to see my grandparents, so the day always brings back memories of hanging with my Nana and her extended family as a child. 

It’s sad for me now that that branch of the family has passed on, so my husband and I work hard to create a Texas version of that with the event we host every year. My husband is in charge of cooking a brisket overnight in the smoker, as well as a few other proteins, along with his famous cinnamon rolls. I’m in charge of the sides and my famous pies. Everyone else in the family brings a dish. 

We host around 20 people in any given year, sometimes more—all of our friends who don’t have a place to go are invited to our table. And yet despite those numbers, we somehow always end up cooking way too much food!  

Joey Siemion, Junior Billing Specialist

Happy holidays, everyone! I previously had the pleasure of sharing my childhood tradition of trying to make a turkey whistle in a previous 2013 Thanksgiving blog post. Long story short, my uncle had a good laugh watching me blow into a turkey and completely embarrass myself. Well, after several years, I was finally able to get him back with a good one! While he was distracted, I hid myself behind the turkey, beer bottle at the ready, and yelled, “I got it!” I blew into the top of the bottle, creating a loud humming sound. Needless to say, I shocked my uncle and a few of my other family members with my ability to finally create a noise from the turkey. Even though it’s not exactly a tradition we’ve carried on for a long time, the laughs we have recounting the story to family and friends is something I’ll carry with me into the future.

If you want to share your own Thanksgiving traditions, feel free to drop those in the comments below. Personally, for the near-decade I’ve been in Arizona I’ve spent Thanksgiving with my sister-in-law’s family, typically serving in whatever role I’m needed for the kids’ activities—be it referee, observer, or medical attendant. And I find a few moments in the day to reflect on what I’m thankful for: family and friends, patient co-workers, and even you fine folks who take a few moments to read our work. However you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.    


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