I have always loved Thanksgiving. As a child, my excitement for the holiday began each year with the first sign of fall. The cause of my excitement was our annual extended family gathering. My mother’s entire family (her parents, her three siblings and their children) gathered at one person’s home from Wednesday night until Sunday morning. This was the only time of year I saw some of my mom’s family and I loved every minute of it. Friday or Saturday night, us kids, usually performed a talent show comprised of skits, the musical instruments we were studying at the time, a song or two, puppet shows or anything else we could come up with on the spot. As you can imagine, we were very entertaining. Our parents and grand parents were very patient to sit through it all.

Thanksgiving continues to be a favorite holiday of mine for the same reason—family coming together. Now that I am older, I am realizing the effort that goes into entertaining 16 people in your home for a weekend. It is a lot of work. Seventeen of us sat around the table this year to give thanks and share a delicious homemade meal that everyone helped prepare. From peeling potatoes to caramelizing onions and baking pies it was a team effort this year. A tradition I hope to carry on for years to come.

These are some of the hands that helped prepare this ceremonial meal, that means so much.

Thanksgiving center piece of fresh flowers

Homemade center pieces assembled by one of my aunts. No detail goes left untouched at our house.

A hand with an injured finger dropping homemade noodles into a pot of boiling water.

My aunt who was the host this year, cut her finger (down to the tendon) a few weeks ago. All the more reason for all of us to pitch in. The poor woman can't get it wet or lift things, but was hosting us all at her house. She is trooper, and those homemade noodles that she is about to boil are a favorite menu item.

Someone carving the Thanksgiving turkey.

My uncle, the youngest brother, has carved the turkey since I can remember. This bird was so tender, the meat slide off the bone.

Someone tossing chopped up apples on a salad.

A cassarole pan of stuffing sitting on the table.

Stuffing—is it better when cooked inside or outside the turkey? I say outside, but that is because I don't eat turkey, but I love stuffing.

Pouring wine through an airiator to let it breath.

Helping the wine breath a little faster than normal—genius!

A bountiful Thanksgiving table.

Not bad for a group effort, right? We all have so much to be thankful for.

Thanks to the host and hostess for welcoming us into your home. Thanks to all for pitching in and making it happen. I am already looking forward to next year.