Tag Archives: thankful

Thankfully FUN.

Last year I flew to Scotland to celebrate Thanksgiving with my dad and step mum at our home in Bridge of Weir, a beautiful village near Glasgow. Having lost my mother earlier in the year, I just wanted to make an extra effort to be with my father for the holidays. We hadn’t celebrated Thanksgiving together since we lived in Okinawa, back in the early 1970s. It was a wonderful celebration combining Scottish ingredients with American dishes (note: haggis stuffing).

My sister Janet organizes our family Thanksgiving here in Los Angeles. Not only is she a fantastic cook but she goes ALL OUT with a yearly theme for the day. Recent celebrations have included Greek, Caribbean, Southern and even a British Thanksgiving.

This year? Well, we’ve come up with a fun retro idea for 2014 that I’ll be sharing on instagram and twitter on Turkey Day. Or check back here at the end of the month for photos and a recap.

If you’re feeling less than excited about the usual Thanksgiving gathering, think about adding a theme to the day. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just a few ingredient changes (see below), inexpensive table settings and a trip to the thrift store if needed. Don’t take it TOO seriously… it’s all about having fun.

Photos from previous “theme” Thanksgiving meals:


Greek Thanksgiving 2010
Table setting (Greek)

Greek Thanksgiving 2010
Greek Thanksgiving Menu

Greek Thanksgiving 2010
Appetizers: Pita, Hummus and Saganaki Fried Cheese topped with plum and arugula.

Greek Thanksgiving 2010
Blue/White “Greek” Attire: My nephew Camron and his wife Jennee

Greek Thanksgiving 2010

More photos from our Greek Thanksgiving


Southern Thanksgiving 2009
Southern libations!

Southern Thanksgiving 2009
Southern Thanksgiving Menu

Southern Thanksgiving 2009
Table setting (Southern)

Southern Thanksgiving 2009
Fried Green Tomatoes of course!

Southern Thanksgiving 2009
Uncle Peter carving the turkey (in his Southern overalls & bow tie!)

More photos from our Southern Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving 2012
Thanksgiving booze (British Theme)

Thanksgiving 2012
Menu (British Thanksgiving)

Janet (my sister) w her 3 sons: Chace, Cody and Camron. Thanksgiving 2012
My sister Janet and her three sons, Chace (left), Cody and Camron. Lots of plaid for “British” theme…

Kindal & Janet (my niece & my sister) Thanksgiving 2012
Janet and her daughter Kindal

I made Haggis Balls too! Thanksgiving 2012
Haggis BALLS (stuffing and haggis)

Lots of Scottish pride! Thanksgiving 2012
Great Scots! My husband Peter (left) and little brother, Greg.

More photos from our British Thanksgiving


Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008
Caribbean Thanksgiving Menu

Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008
Caribbean table setting

Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008
Bacon wrapped pineapple

Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008
Limbo of course!

Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008
Group shot (Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008)

More photos from our Caribbean Thanksgiving

Again, it’s all about sharing laughs and gathering around the family table. Enjoy and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

P.S. My favorite way to use up leftover stuffing? >

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On Being Thankful.

As most Americans prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow,  I’ll be arriving in London en route to visit my dad in Bridge of Weir, Scotland.

Of course he and my stepmum don’t usually celebrate turkey day, but we’ll gather in their village kitchen and cook a Scottish/American feast together. I know, for sure, there will be some sort of turkey and glorious HAGGIS BALLS (equal parts stuffing & haggis mixed together) that I love to make year round.

In Bridge of Weir, Scotland with my dad 2002For a food fanatic like myself, Thanksgiving is absolutely the best time of the year. Not just because of all the tasty bites, but also a time to exhale, be grateful and reach out to family and friends.

Back in April, my mother passed away and I had to fly to Miyako Jima (near Okinawa, Japan) to take care of her funeral and estate.

The trip was absolutely dreadful (except for a few delicious moments) but it would have been worse if we hadn’t reconciled the year earlier.

My mom and I hadn’t spoken for over ten years, until two years ago when a friend of mine, over lunch at Jitlada (my favorite Thai restaurant), demanded I call my mother. If it weren’t for my friend, I’d never have found peace and comfort of knowing my mother a bit better. She had retired from the business I abhorred (more later), and was just a funny, old lady I chatted and laughed with long-distance.

My dad and I were also estranged for many years (international divorce and spending ten years in a children’s group home can do that), and it took decades for us to want to be in each other’s lives again.

Although it wasn’t always easy (I used to hold on to anger)… IT WAS definitely WORTH IT. I fly back to Scotland to visit him once a year now, and I’m so grateful for every moment together.

If there’s someone in your life you’ve been waiting to call or visit, please stop and JUST DO IT.

Life is short. There’s always time to heat up the leftovers tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving. Love, Jo

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Filed under Family Stories, Travel