CUIMC Community Members Share Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving is a time for gathering and sharing a meal with loved ones from near and far. What that meal might look like and what traditions might be associated with the holiday, though, are unique to every family.

We asked the CUIMC community to share their favorite Thanksgiving traditions and dishes. Read more about how CUIMC faculty members, staff, and students celebrate Thanksgiving:

Kathy Donovan, Administrative Coordinator, Department of Ophthalmology

Favorite Thanksgiving tradition: It is a tradition in our home for my family and guests to tell each other what they are thankful for before we eat. It is a blessing to hear my kids express their gratitude. I sit back and think about what they said the previous year and reflect on how their thankfulness has changed or not changed from one year to the next.

Favorite Thanksgiving dish: I have a tie, my cornbread stuffing and my macaroni pie. I got the cornbread recipe from my sister (it has all her secret ingredients) and the macaroni pie is very popular in Barbados.

Bonita Enochs, Senior Editorial Director, CUIMC Office of Communications

Favorite Thanksgiving dish: Thanksgiving tradition in my family growing up in Nebraska was a dish called scalloped corn (Nebraska is the Cornhusker state, after all). Most New Yorkers have not heard of this dish, but it’s in major recipe books so it can’t be that odd. My mother’s recipe is simpler and different from the recipe books. The scalloped corn I make never tastes as good as my mother’s. She was a great cook who just threw ingredients together. Her written recipe is short on details. For example, I have no idea how many cracker crumbs to include, so that may be why my scalloped corn falls short of hers.

Ross Frommer, Vice President for Government & Community Affairs

Favorite Thanksgiving tradition: Growing up, Thanksgiving always meant, and continues to mean, heading up to the Boston area to spend the holiday with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We were always very close, and their house could handle the crowd better than our New York City apartment could. Aunt Jean and various other relatives would also be there. We would always bring up New York bagels and goodies from Zabar's for brunch the next day. My aunt and uncle both grew up in the New York area, and this was quite a treat for them at a time when it was really tough to get a good bagel outside NYC, let alone lox, herring, and other delicacies. Sadly, several members of my parents' generation have passed on, but we will still celebrate at my aunt's apartment and my mom will be there along with several members of the next generation of Frommers.

Favorite Thanksgiving dish: Uncle Alan carved the turkey and Aunt Judy made the stuffing. She still makes the best pecan pie.

Ajay Kirtane, MD, Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine

Dr. Ajay Kirtane’s Thanksgiving Memory

Favorite Thanksgiving tradition: Hosting as many people we can fit, we have a football game before everyone eats together with pre-assigned potluck dishes. Some years after dinner we then do a ‘live karaoke’ where our family plays the instruments and anyone who wants to can sing (as long as it’s a song we know) ;)

Favorite Thanksgiving dish: I personally have a weak spot for the stuffing even though I know that I probably shouldn’t admit that as a cardiologist!

Chen Liang, Graduate Student, Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health

Favorite Thanksgiving tradition: My favorite Thanksgiving tradition in my family is in San Diego. We usually celebrate it with lots of delicious meals, such as roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, a variety of side dishes, and pumpkin pie and other desserts. And I think the best part is to express gratitude. Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and expressing gratitude. My families usually go around the table sharing what they are thankful for before the meal, and I also write gratitude cards to my friends and my instructors to thank them for what they had done for me this year.

Favorite Thanksgiving dish: My favorite dish is the roasted turkey.

AsiaLuna Patlis, Graduate Student, Nutritional and Metabolic Biology, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Favorite Thanksgiving tradition: Thanksgiving is our family's favorite holiday, a day with many longstanding traditions. My Great Aunt Phyllis is 88 years old and has been hosting Thanksgiving for 57 years and counting. Every year we gather at her house in Dix Hills, Long Island, with the blow-up turkey bobbing in the front yard. Family members come from as near as other neighborhoods on Long Island and from as far as Burkina Faso. Unlike most, our Thanksgiving starts around 3 p.m. with everyone piling into the foyer, taking off their winter coats, and greeting family they may only see on this special day. The pool-table-turned-dining-table has already been set with the many stuffed-animal turkeys and homemade individualized place cards. The 7-layer dip, poppycock, fruit platter, and chocolate truffle assortment has already been placed in the den. This starts off the first round of appetizers and hors d'oeuvres that lasts many hours. During my childhood, this would always be the time for a mean game of Life upstairs. We gather (never before 7 p.m.) for dinner, with a longstanding tradition of everyone saying what they are thankful for this year. This takes a long time since there are usually about 25 of us. As children my cousin and I tried to escape saying our thanks by hiding under the table. Then we recite the family THANKSGIVING acrostic poem that has been hung on the wall every year since circa 1995. Then comes the soup, the rolls, the sweet potatoes, the carrot pudding, the chestnut stuffing, the turkey, the gravy, the cranberry sauce, the Martinelli, and more. The post dinner nap is as much of a tradition as the Thanksgiving meal with years of photos documenting the patriarchs snoozing in the recliners. This tradition has since spread to the younger generations. Every year each generation is documented with a photo on the classic green staircase. Every year it's midnight before we're back in the foyer, putting on our winter layers and saying our goodbyes until next year in Dix Hills.

Favorite Thanksgiving dish: The chestnut stuffing and carrot pudding are top contenders, but I'm partial to the pecan sweet potatoes. (These are Aunt Phyllis' secret recipes, so even if I knew them I don't think I could share!)

Alicia Samuels, Senior Director of Strategic Communication, CUIMC Office of Communications

Favorite Thanksgiving tradition: From the food to family to the parade and watching football, I love Thanksgiving (especially in NYC). We start the meal by sharing what we are grateful for, and many hours later, end with my sister's homemade lemon cranberry bars, which are my favorite.

Favorite Thanksgiving dish: My mom taught me the secret to juicy turkey: cover the turkey in white cotton cloth soaked in the basting mixture and baste often.