What Thanksgiving Means to Me…


Waking up on Thanksgiving Day stirs immediate thoughts of … did I remember everything I need for dinner?  to – did I oversleep and miss the parade?  to- I wonder where the Christmas decorations are…..

However, as I wipe the sleep from my eyes and remember my awesome husband did a late night run to the store last night for those last minute additions for the perfect family dinner…. my thoughts turn a bit nostalgic.

My parents divorced when I was was very young and both eventually re-married to people who were their soul mates till the day they each passed on from his world. My step-parents didn’t have children,  so that left this only child with a slightly different experience over holidays then many of my friends.  Christmas was always a very intimate gathering of just a few.. but that will have to wait for another post.

Thanksgiving was a different experience entirely. Its the holiday I most associate with my Mom, Freda, and most years it was spent driving the 85 miles to my Grandmothers house. Little Grandma, as many of us called her, was small in stature, but she more then made up for her petite size with her strong will and warm smile.  And omg… could she cook!

little grandma
Genevieve Batrum – aka Little Grandma

When we arrived to her house, every available flat space was covered in trays of rising yeast that would become the Thanksgiving Day dinner rolls and if I close my eyes right now….  I can still smell them baking.  (side note: I have never had any baked goods that even came close to the glory that was my little grandmas.)

My mom came from a large family which meant little Grandma’s small, modest house was filled with wall to wall people.  My aunts, uncles and cousins either outside running around, in the kitchen working on the meal made for an army, or just gathered around table catching up on the happenings of the day.

For me, it was a bit of a shock going from just little old me to a house full, and sometimes I struggled  with where I fit into the puzzle with so many pieces all scattered around. It was always a bit awkward for me but one thing I always knew…  it was my family.   Be it fighting over the last remaining bag of sunflower seeds in the living room covered in sleeping bags for us kids… to spending time listening to the stories my aunts and uncle would gab about when they were together.  No matter how awkward of a puzzle piece I was…  it really was a time I looked forward too and now I miss, along with the people who always had a hug to remind me that Thanksgiving isn’t just about the awesome food, but the people you are blessed to have in your life.

As time passed, Thanksgiving celebrations have transformed into a day where I get the luxury of being at home with my husband and furry kids. Its usually sandwiched between work trips, but that’s ok.  We make time to call and visit with our families who live in different cities and spend time together.  (Chris… if you are reading this PLEASE watch the first episode of The Mandalorian so we can watch 2 & 3 tonight… oh and yes – i Want a baby Yoda for Christmas… hint hint)


Thanksgiving also marks the moment when I start pulling out the Christmas decorations, play Christmas music and fire up ‘Muppets Christmas Carol’ — ya you heard me  –  and set off on the quest to find just the perfect gift for each person on my list.  (geezzz you guys are hard to buy for….)

And Ya… Im ‘THAT’  friend.
The one who really has a hard time seeing Christmas going on sale just as they are starting to sell out of Halloween Candy.  As I get older,  time already passes too quickly so do we really need to rush through Fall?  Let me enjoy the transition from fall to winter would ya?  🙂

Now thats outta of the way — prepare yourselves for a ton of Christmas posts in the next 3 weeks. Just sayin’.

And finally….
Thanksgiving is a time to take a moment to appreciate all the blessings in your life.  While the meal, and the after meal nap, are great ways to mark the occasion on this one day…  its the time you take everyday to truly give thanks for your family,  but the family you select as well. The gathering of people around the virtual table that are always there to laugh at your stupid jokes, keep you company on a business trip,  offer a few words of support or even just a ‘like’ on social media… those small gestures remind me that in this great big puzzle, I somehow manage to fit.

What is your favorite memories of Thanksgiving when you were a kid?

and.. a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!


Beci Mahnken is Chief Magic Maker at MEI-Travel & Mouse Fan Travel. With more than 23 years in the travel biz, she is a frequent guest on many travel and Disney community podcasts including WDW Radio, and partners with other great travel creators like LaughingPlace.com, AllEars.net and RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com. She was recognized by Travel + Leisure magazine as the Super A-List Agent for Disney travel and serves on their Earmarked Advisory Board. Beci has long worked with the Disney fan community to help support fan efforts and create high-profile events and has a passion for supporting deserving charities with a special emphasis on animal welfare efforts. She has a love for exploring history, ocean cruising, and river cruising and served on advisory boards for the prestigious GTM event and TravelAge West Magazine. Beci's dedicated to her craft of sharing the magic of travel with anyone who will listen.

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