Celebrating Thanksgiving: North Highlanders’ Favorite Traditions

It’s safe to say that Thanksgiving is one of North Highlanders’ favorite holidays. While Thanksgiving may look a little different this year, North Highlanders are still celebrating in full force with their favorite dishes and traditions. We sat down with fellow Thanksgiving enthusiasts to share how they will celebrate this year:

Thanksgiving at North Highland

  • Roma Parikh, Analyst – Atlanta
  • Brett Patterson, Director, Experience Design – Atlanta 
  • Bill Addison, Senior Architect, Data and Analytics – Philadelphia

How will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year?

Roma: This year, we’re lucky to do our tradition of a family dinner with good food and even better company – my family has an inter-generational household with my grandmother and aunt living at home with my parents.

Brett: I am spending Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family in Nashville, TN. It is the first time I won’t be with my immediate family, but being excited about the newness is helping balance some of the pandemic disappointment.

William: I’m not 100 percent sure what my plans will be due to COVID, but hopefully maintaining my usual tradition, which is a little odd. I’ve been married to my wife for 23 years and have known her for 28 years, but we have never had a single Thanksgiving dinner together. We met in college, and when Thanksgiving came up, we both really liked our traditions of having dinner with our parents and siblings, and decided that we would both go our separate ways and keep our individual traditions. Neither of us tried to convince the other that their family had the superior meal (although it’s obviously mine), and as the years went on, we saw no reason to change if we were happy. Getting married and having kids didn’t change anything either. When my kids were young, we’d each take one, alternating years, but as they got older, they chose sides. For the past several years, my oldest son goes with me and my youngest son goes with my wife. It’s all totally normal to us (and I should probably mention that we have a really happy marriage), but I guess it seems a little weird to others.

Will you be doing any of the cooking?

Roma: I’ve recently been becoming more confident in my cooking – so there’s a high likelihood I’ll contribute something like a tofu stuffing or pumpkin pie. Of course, my mom and grandmother are definitely the geniuses in the kitchen cooking up the main meals.

Brett: With my family, I am in charge of all the pies. I make an apple cranberry and chocolate chess every year! I was also named the “Family Turkey Carver” in high school after I took a cooking class that taught knife skills and poultry deboning. I am no Julia Child, but my grandfather was always a little dangerous with the electric knife, so he was relieved to give up his post. 

William: Luckily for everyone, I don’t do any of the cooking.  I get dish duty.

What is your favorite dish? Least favorite?

Roma: Pie is a must – apple is preferred, but pumpkin pie or pecan pie are also great.

Brett: I love all Thanksgiving food, except I never could get behind stuffing/dressing. My most particular needs are Sister Schubert yeast rolls (the kind in the aluminum tin and not the dinner rolls) and my mom’s strawberry salad, which is a layered dish with strawberry Jell-O, pineapple, mashed bananas, pecans, and sour cream. It doesn’t sound very good to most people and even me if I think about it too much, especially considering I am very Jell-O adverse in all other circumstances, but it is delicious!

William: My Dad’s stuffing that my sister now makes, and the turkey. We’ve weeded out all the “least favorites” over the years, so it’s all good.

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

Roma: My family is originally from India and we’re vegetarian, so we don’t really have quintessential Thanksgiving foods or any long-held traditions. Instead, we like to choose a type of cuisine and build a feast around that. Last year we did house guacamole, vegetarian enchiladas and margaritas. The common denominator is always spending time together as a family.

Brett: I have two favorite Thanksgiving traditions. We normally spend Thanksgiving day with my childhood best friend’s family. The two of us have a long-standing tradition of eating pie in bed for breakfast together. Every year I make our “breakfast pie” (it is still 100% dessert) and we cozy up and catch up, sometimes in matching pajamas. This year, we will have to do it virtually, but I am still excited to have a reason to eat pie in the morning. My second tradition is still happening – the Thanksgiving pinata, otherwise known as the graciata! We always have a turkey themed pinata (though one year we had to settle for a parrot) that we bust into after dinner. Our moms used to fill it with candy, but also some unusual items like mini toothpastes and sunscreens, and as we got older, they indulged us with the addition of $5 gift cards and the occasional mini bottle of Fireball or Jose Cuervo. I made one to send home with my boyfriend for Thanksgiving last year, so they will be well versed on the tradition this year when I show up with papier-mâché Turkey Tom in tow!

William: My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is actually the day after. My friends and I have been playing a football game on the day after Thanksgiving uninterrupted since we were in high school.  Unfortunately, there’s no good way to have a socially distanced game, so it looks like 2020 is the year that streak will end.

What are you most thankful for this year?

Roma: This year has been filled with the unexpected (good and bad), so I am grateful to have wonderful friends and family that have supported me through it and to share it with. I am especially thankful that my dad, who was hospitalized earlier this year, is back to normal health and able to enjoy the festivities.

Brett: Being thankful for family and health used to seem like a pretty generic Thanksgiving response, but I think it is much more relevant and extra deserving of my gratitude this year! I am also thankful for some little things: my back patio/garden for keeping me sane at home, my fuzzy sweatpants for keeping me warm since my boyfriend basically requires refrigeration to work at home and the Great British Baking Show for limiting my in real life stress baking needs!

William: With my oldest son away at college, I’m thankful that he’ll be home from Thanksgiving until January.