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Thanksgiving, 2016. Pictures left to right by row: 1- My parent’s dining room 2- The view on our backyard 3- Michigan Avenue lit up for the holidays 4- The Drake Hotel, where we were married in August, 5- Another shot of the dining room 6-Our table setting, in progress

The past month has been an enjoyable flurry of activity: work has barreled forward (as it does), I celebrated my birthday and the wedding of a dear friend in Palm Beach and the holiday season has kicked off! But today I wanted to write about Thanksgiving before another day passes, because what better exercise is there on a Monday (apart from the gym variety) than to reflect on gratitude?

This Thanksgiving was the best I’ve ever had. It was the first time that the entire family was together since our wedding and it was so wonderful to see everyone. All five of us kids were present, as well as 4 of our spouses,  8 grandkids, and my brother’s in laws and extended in-laws to boot. We didn’t only have an adults and a kids table; we had grandparents in the dining room, my siblings and me in the kitchen, and the children on the lower level with their very own banquet table. The fire was roaring and the house was decorated beautifully, and my mother laid out a traditional American and Syrian feast that would have put the greatest chefs to shame.

A few highlights from Thanksgiving weekend:

  1. Yesterday, my husband and I were watching Colin Quinn’s New York Story – which by the way- is completely phenomenal- and one of my favorite jokes was one he made about Puerto Rican families, noting “The babies are the star of the show. By 8 years old you are totally washed up in a Puerto Rican family”- it had me howling because that is basically our family. The baby is the star of the show, forever and ever, and every time we are home there is a new crop of babies (huge thanks to my siblings for taking on that particular burden) and we are completely besotted with them. We couldn’t put the youngest one down this time, he is a perfectly rotund little dumpling0 but made sure to read plenty of books to their “elders” (the 2-4 year old set) as well.

  2. We had prints of our wedding family portraits made and framed and gifted them to every member of the family, and seeing their reactions as they opened these beautiful photos  was so incredibly special. I printed a sister picture for the sisters, and one of just our parents and the 5 of us for all of us, in addition to a handful of other special moments. We gave my parents an 8×10 of the entire family, all 5 children and spouses with the 8 grandchildren, and I noted to my Dad “with the exception of the spouses- everyone in this photo came from you and Mom.” And he looked at me and replied “No my dear, they all came from God.” It was so sweet.

  3. The food. Oh my God, the food. Turkey, Potato Gratin, Kibbeh, Shishbarak, Sfeehah, Brussel sprouts, Salad, Stuffed grape leaves, Chicken sumac rolls, Hereeseh, Kunafah, Pecan pie, Pumpkin pie, French silk pie, pie, pie, pie…..nom nom nom. We are complete and utter gluttons and I have zero shame.

  4. Sitting around the fire pit in my brother’s back yard making smores the day after Thanksgiving. Especially once he made the kids leave so we could chill, haha. I am especially thankful that my brother’s associate stepped up to the plate thanksgiving weekend so that we could spend quality time with him; it was unbelievable to spend so much time with him and he is hands down the funniest person in the world.

  5. Walking around downtown Chicago Saturday afternoon with my Dad and Husband. We drank espresso, took in the lights, checked out Christmas gifts and took photos in front of the Bloomingdales Christmas tree at 900 North Michigan. It was so lovely and we always cherish afternoons with my Dad.

  6. Finally, a wonderful dinner at my sister’s new home, which is so beautiful. I have no words- our entire apartment fits into her kitchen, and here we thought we were living large in NYC.

It was a weekend full of family, terrific food, relaxation, big laughs, and minimal political discussions- in a word, perfection. Felt very thankful and headed back to NYC with a full heart, plus a pound or two, and with so many memories. Still working on that pound or two…

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