Food

What Does Thanksgiving Mean to You?

From politics and post-traumatic stress to cinnamon-y pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving—the annual-slash only American day dedicated to gratitude—means a lot of things to a lot of people. It also means nothing to many others. Post passing the turkey, Family Style asked 20 or so creatives from all around the world what the pre-Black Friday feast signifies for them personally, and how each celebrated this year if they did so at all.

November 25, 2023
Marie-Amelie Sauvé, fashion stylist and editor-in-chief of Mastermindmagazine
Thanksgiving by Marie-Amelie Sauvé
Photography by Marie-Amelie Sauvé.

"This year Thanksgiving held a special meaning as it revolved around finding connection rather than solitude. Sharing a dinner with colleagues after a nine-hour shoot completed the sentiment."

Elliot Reed, artist
Photography by Elliot Reed.

"Thanksgiving started for me on Wednesday with a big meal at a friend's that went late. Thursday I woke up early to look at dogs in the park, got delivery, and then fell asleep embarrassingly early. Ten out of ten holiday. No notes."

Tanya Bush, writer and co-founder of Cake Zine
Thanksgiving by Tanya Bush.
Photography by Tanya Bush.

"Thanksgiving means Midtown Manhattan—more specifically a rented room a few blocks from Times Square and catered fare for 30 family members. We’ve been coming here for years, theoretically because it’s a convenient meeting point, but really because the arrangement absolves us from having to cook for an unwieldy crowd. I look forward to the shrimp cocktail, to the 'beautiful dessert buffet,' with tiny, waxy pastries, to updating each other on our years—someone is expecting; someone is sick; someone just adopted a terrier. I mash my stuffing and potatoes together into an indistinguishable slop, gorge, then return home by 9 pm. This year I was at the restaurant early."

Ellie Rines, art dealer and founder of 56 Henry
Thanksgiving by Ellie Rines.
Photography by Ellie Rines.

"I ordered a turkey from Williams-Sonoma. It was supposed to be pre-roasted, but it felt pretty pink so Nathalie Karg saved the day and did some French things to it."

Greg Chait, fashion designer and founder of The Elder Statesman
Photography by Greg Chait.

"Each year Thanksgiving is a mini reprieve that lets me spend quality time with my little girl. We have done all sorts of trips together, from visiting family in Arizona to road-tripping to Big Sur and surfing the north shore of Kauai. This year we went to...Vegas, where a family member has established residency. We had it all! A cozy Thanksgiving meal together at home, gambling with the whole gang, and the most amazing experience at the Sphere to see Darren Aronofsky's Postcard from Earth. A little bit of good old America."

Rémi Lamandé, photographer
Thanksgiving by Rémi Lamandé.
Photography by Rémi Lamandé.

"As a French person I never fully grasped the importance of Thanksgiving, but I lived in New York for a long time and enjoyed this cozy holiday while I was there. I love that it’s centered around (over)eating. Now I live in Paris, where Thanksgiving doesn’t exist but somehow Black Friday does? Most people don’t actually know what that means, but some of the stores have even turned it into 'Black Week' or  even 'Black Month…' On Thursday I went shopping for flowers and then had some very spicy Senegalese food at Waly-Fay for dinner."

Simone Bodmer-Turner, designer and sculptor

"Thanksgiving is about reinventing traditions of gathering. This year family and friends and some of our friends' families spent three days with us at the farm. We had the most beautiful warm days; we went for long walks in the woods, enjoyed cold dips in the streams, and shot arrows in the fields. We decided on an outdoor lobster boil for dinner, and everyone hemmed and hawed over how long it would take 100 quarts of water to boil. Neighbors walked over for champagne and oysters to kick off the feast, and when the sun set we all came inside for our meal by the fire. I love seeing communities and families from so many different parts of life meeting and finding connections."

Rebecca Ramsey, fashion stylist
Photography by Rebecca Ramsey.

"It’s all about tradition. For over 65 years, my husband's family has roasted oysters the evening after Thanksgiving in the South Carolina Lowcountry. It is a night to celebrate and catch up with family and friends, all while eating oysters with the next generation."

Patia Borja, model and artist
Thanksgiving by Patia Borja.
Photography by Patia Borja.

"I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving because of the colonial implications, and I have big 'you can’t eat everyone’s potato salad' energy, but I do take advantage of the day off by sleeping and picking somewhere to order food that has a southern soul food flare to it. This time I fulfilled the tastebuds of my Blasian cravings by getting Pecking House delivery."

Anna Delvey, socialite

“Thanksgiving for me means discovering hidden talents. This year that happened to be my charcuterie board design skills. Another surprising revelation: being under house arrest on a 50-acre farm in Upstate New York is only half as bad as being under house arrest in a 500-square-foot apartment in the East Village. I am grateful to my hosts and all the farm animals in residence who provided such a nurturing and learning environment.”

Andy Baraghani, chef and writer
Photography by Andy Baraghani.

"As it's just a few days before my birthday, Thanksgiving for me is often a time of reflection. I look back at the past year and think about the things I’m grateful for, how I can evolve, and what I can do better for myself and for others. It’s also a time of indulgence: after all the time I've spent in the kitchen, I welcome as many helpings of food and wine as I can get."

Kaitlin Phillips, publicist
Thanksgiving by Kaitlin Phillips
Photography by Kaitlin Phillips.

“I enjoy any midweek holiday where I don’t have to check my email."

Matt Starr, artist and co-founder of Dream Baby Press
Thanksgiving by Matt Starr
Photography by Matt Starr.

"Thanksgiving really just means two things: that I get to spend time with my family and slow down."

Kate Berry, chief creative officer of Domino
Photography by Kate Berry.

"Each year my Thanksgiving happens in different places with different people: in New York with friends, in Rome with my husband and daughter, or in my hometown with extended family. I celebrate wherever I am with the people that I happen to be with, and I try to be grateful for everything that got me there. This year the elders requested Vietnamese-style crab with salt, pepper, and lime. While I’m very particular about my tabletops, we rented a beach house, so I had to let that go."

Chloé Crane-Leroux, chef and photographer
Thanksgiving by Chloé Crane-Leroux.
Photography by Chloé Crane-Leroux.

"Thanksgiving is such a beautiful day to me. Being Canadian, we were not big on celebrating the holiday when I was growing up. But now that I’ve lived in New York for 10 years and have been celebrating with friends, it’s truly become one of my favorite times of the year. Not only is my love language all about food and gathering people around a table, but this special holiday is all about taking the time to prioritize all the things we are thankful for. It allows us to pause and reflect, and it’s such a beautiful thing. To be able to take time with friends and family to learn about everyone’s thanks."

Joshua Glass, founder and editor-in-chief of Family Style
Thanksgiving by Joshua Glass
Photography by Joshua Glass.

"Thanksgiving's origins are abhorrent, but the holiday as a modern concept is remarkable emotionally—it's a powerful reminder of food's ability to organize, if only for a plate or two. Like many years, I spent this holiday amongst a varied combo of family members—biological and chosen—before retiring home to my cat with a refrigerator full of second and third helpings. There is something cathartic about quiet reflection after a day of extravagant laughter and healthy pours that allows the warmth of others to sink in further."

Paul Henkel, art dealer and founder of Palo Gallery
Thanksgiving by Paul Henkel.
Photography by Paul Henkel.

"Thanksgiving usually means cooking for at least 12 people with a lot of wine and a lot of dishes, but this year it was just me, my fiancé, Sophia, her mother, Anne, and our dear friend Olivia. What to cook for such a small group? Thankfully a recent obsession with savory pies gave me the answer. Sweet potato, onions, celery, mushrooms, a lovely gravy, and slow-roasted turkey breast all came together under a homemade biscuit crust. Accompanied by a roast ham, caramelized onions, cranberry sauce, crispy brussels sprouts, and a thick gravy made for the perfect mini Thanksgiving feast in our Woodstock Cottage."

Virginia Lebermann, co-founder of Ballroom Marfa
Photography by Virginia Lebermann.

"Thanksgiving was at my mother’s house on a ranch in south east Texas. It's one of those wonderful moments in the year where generations connect through teaching and learning family recipes. During Thanksgiving we all come together and tell stories—some true and some tall tales—about those that came before us. There is endless laughter around these holiday dinners. It keeps us connected. My 16-year-old son Henry said, 'My favorite part of thanksgiving is being with Granny and eating her beautiful food.' Thanksgiving is just that—Granny and food."

Quori Theodor, artist and co-founder of Spiral Theory Test Kitchen
Thanksgiving by Quori Theodor.
Photography by Quori Theodor.

"It was made clear to me as a child that Thanksgiving was connected to the genocide and exploitation of indigenous people, so it was pretty confusing as to why it was a celebratory holiday. This year the idea of celebration is particularly stark. So what does Thanksgiving mean to me? I see a conglomerate of geopolitics, colonialism, slavery, PR campaigns, and distorted time scales on a plate. Each ingredient tells its own version of this history."

Chrissie Miller, creative director
Thanksgiving by Chrissie Miller
Photography by Chrissie Miller.

"Thanksgiving for me means time to be with my family. This year it was my mom, my son, Otis, and my husband, Leo. We chose to go to a friend’s restaurant, Raf's. It was fun to be out and not have to cook or clean!"

Jeanette Hayes, artist
Thanksgiving by Jeanette Hayes
Photography by Jeanette Hayes.

"Thanksgiving doesn't mean much to me. Maybe it means the bird, but I forgot to take a picture of the bird. I enjoy the parade and the excitement of any holiday. I like to watch The Wizard of Oz and eat pie with family and friends. But mostly what Thanksgiving means to me, is that Christmas is soon :D."

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Active Listening

February 12, 2024 10:23 AM

British fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner has unveiled her first major curatorial endeavor: “Spirit Movers" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

by 
Ann Binlot
Family Style

Editor's Letter

February 11, 2024 10:00 AM

The theme of Family Style's inaugural print issue is No Place Like Home. Here's why.

by 
Joshua Glass