How We Celebrate Thanksgiving

We asked buildOn staff to share their Thanksgiving traditions, new and old. How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comments section!

Thanksgiving Traditions

This is the first year my aunt isn’t making everything for Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone’s bringing a side dish. I’m bringing mashed potatoes. – Ryan Nishimoto, Program and Trek Coordinator, Chicago

I go home to central Illinois every year. My dad is one of twelve… it’s a big festive occasion. I appreciate that so much because I don’t have that here. We always play a card game, ukre. This year I’m making a sausage and apple stuffing. I think that stuffing is the most important food at Thanksgiving. – Amy Krzyzek, Program Coordinator, Chicago

Every Thanksgiving I volunteer with a group a friends at Meals on Wheels. This year I will inviting a group of Western International High School students to pack 6,000 hot meals for senior citizens in Detroit! – Alexandria Ballard, Youth Engagement Zone Program Manager, Detroit

This Thanksgiving, my relatives are coming from Boston to Connecticut. There will be a lot of good food, drinks and football.  I am looking forward to helping my mom cook this year! – Kathleen Atkins, Director, Events & External Affairs

We’re having a good ‘ol Puerto Rican Thanksgiving in honor my grandfather who passed away over the summer. It was his favorite holiday so we’re cooking all his favorite traditional meals. We’re also celebrating my and my nephew David’s birthday (his birthday is on Thanksgiving day, mine is two days before). – Glenda Hernandez, Senior Program Coordinator

I love spending time at home with the family. We live in a building with a lot of kids, so I usually bring them over and play a bunch of board games, card games, stuff like that. That’s my Thanksgiving. – Umair Ilyas, Program Manager, New York

I go to my partner Judy’s family’s place and eat roast DUCK because they are Chinese! – Stephanie Gilman, Regional Manager, New York

Growing up in rural Ohio, Thanksgiving mornings began with a bang! We’d fill up coffee mugs and head out back, greeting uncles and cousins as they arrived, and get out the shotguns! Our Ewell family tradition typically involved 150+ clay pigeons being launched through the air and a firing squad of up to five family members at a time lined up to see who could shoot them down the fastest. During an especially spirited year, we went through over 450 rounds of ammo in just a couple hours. I’m thankful that no one was accidentally shot during all the festivities! – Abbe Ewell, Training, Development & Alumni Specialist

Thanksgiving Memories

I spent four Thanksgivings in Africa when I was doing my Peace Corps service in Burkina Faso and when I was studying abroad. I celebrated in my village, and I told people “bonne fete.” I told them it was “the day of telling people you like them and you’re thankful for them.” They asked me, “Why do you eat that disgusting animal (a turkey)?” – Sara Laurino, Program and Trek Coordinator, Chicago

Last year we went to a firing range in Richmond, Illinois. It was me and my family and it was my first time shooting a skeet gun. My uncle is a big gun guy. – Brian Socall, Program Manager, Chicago