Top 5 Thursday: My Favorite Thanksgivings (So Far)

I hope you're enjoying the day with loved ones (family, friends, roommates, neighbors) or, at the very least, enjoying a plate of warm food and a dessert.

As we've planned various levels of celebration around here--a handful of changes due to Covid, the weather, and a recent death in the family--I started to think about some of my favorite Thanksgiving memories.

So, today's Top 5 is a list of my Top 5 Favorite Thanksgiving Celebrations (So Far)

Thanksgiving 2003: I was studying abroad in London. A handful of classmates and I had begun attending a church and become dear friends with some of the staff members. So, while Brits (or the N. Irish) don't celebrate Thanksgiving, in their words, "What would we celebrate? You lot getting out of our country?!" they were happy to lend us a place to prepare and enjoy a massive Thanksgiving dinner. And, of course, happily sat around a large table, full of food and wine, and ate with us.

Thanksgiving 2008: I was living in Kitale, Kenya with two friends. We'd been there for about 4.5 months so far and would stay for another 2(ish) months. At first, we imagined buying a full (live) turkey for a Thanksgiving dinner, but when we heard how expensive it would be, (turkeys being a very rare bird in the small town), we opted for two chickens. I have to say, I was not as appreciative as I should have been about how much work my friend and roommate Daina put into making that big dinner for the three of us and our 4 guests. It was delicious and so memorable.

Thanksgiving 2011: Thanksgiving Day at my Grandparents' house. We ate a ton of food--had too many crescent rolls as is the tradition. There was nothing particularly standout about the day other than, in my mind, this feels like the last true DiLallo family Thanksgiving. Nearly everyone was there--all the cousins 4 out of 5 sisters... we were just missing my aunt Debra. We took a bunch of pictures on the front steps and this was framed and on display for years following.

Also, this picture--which may be my all-time favorite photo of me and my mom--was taken that day.

Thanksgivings 2012, 2013, 2014: I smooshing these all into one because they're all a highlight for the same reason. Since my mom started working on Thanksgiving Day, we pushed our family gathering to Friday. Since the rest of us still had the day off and were looking for something to do, we volunteered at an event called Thanksgiving As It Should Be at Mariners Church Irvine. Each year, they opened the Community Center to anyone who wanted to attend: local college students without family nearby, church attendees who would otherwise spend the day alone, families living in motels or shelters--places without a kitchen to cook a meal, etc. Hundreds of meals--turkey, stuffing, casseroles, rolls, you name it!--cooked by church families and served hot at this event. 

A few of us went in 2012 and shared a table with a family of 5 who we sat with again in 2013 and 2014. It was so fun to see how their kids had grown each year. It felt like seeing extended family.

I'm not sure why my cousin Sunny made the face she did in the above photo, but then it became the tradition to recreate it every year.

Our party grew a bit larger in 2013.

But we still made sure to make the face.

My Grandma died in September of 2014. We still went to serve, though we were all grieving. The woman who'd taken our pictures at the photobooth over the last two years noticed we were missing someone. When she heard about Bum, she came over and hugged each one of us. Of course, we asked her to jump in one photo with us!

Thanksgiving 2016: Through a massively competitive and massively generous competition at our work, my roommate, Caroline, and I had won 100,000 air miles and $1000 cash. We chose to use the miles on roundtrip tickets to Australia. We spent 10 days traveling through Sydney and Cairns--we toured the rainforest, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, saw a Shakespeare play at the Sydney Opera House, and celebrated Thanksgiving at the lagoon. Not too shabby.

I feel I should acknowledge that none of these Top Thanksgivings include my husband. Since we were long-distance for the Thanksgiving when we were dating, and ridiculously ill last year, neither of those make the list of the very best holidays. But, there's hope for those to come! I'm sure there will be stories to tell from this year's dinner! I'll keep you posted.


  1. This is so great!!! I love the memories and have never seen those photos! Absolutely LOL!! (Oh how Papa loved LOL...)