Wedding Venue Map wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving from Central Florida!
For many of us, Thanksgiving is about family, friends and community. We thought it would be great to share a bit about our team so our wedding community could get to know us a bit better.
We asked our team some questions about what Thanksgiving meant to them, their favorite memories and foods, what are their traditions, and thoughts they wanted to share. Here’s what they had to say!
Shannon Tarrant, Co-Founder, Wedding Venue Map
For me, Thanksgiving is the start of my favorite season of the year, the holidays. It’s the time we focus on giving to others, spending time together, and making memories.
This year, I’m the most thankful for my support system. Being a business owner isn’t always the easiest. It’s demanding and time-consuming and has ups and downs. But my circle of family and friends always helps me even out and brings me back to the center. I couldn’t have accomplished everything I have without them.
My favorite memory is from many, many years ago when I was young. We had a big Thanksgiving dinner with both our family and my Uncle Larry’s family including grandparents and cousins. Imagine a long table with about fifteen people around it. My uncle was sitting next to me on the right and asked me to pass the butter. I was a smart-ass even then. I picked up the butter and passed it left saying, “Uncle Larry needs the butter.”
The family got in on the joke and passed it all the way around the table (15 seats remember) and then the butter started to criss-cross the table, all while my uncle was still waiting for it. We laughed and laughed and laughed. Every year at Thanksgiving, he still asks me for the butter and I still send it in the other direction.
One of my favorite traditions is when we start the day watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With my sister and niece in Connecticut, my mom in Bradenton, and me here in Central Florida, we all watch and Facetime each other throughout the parade about the performances, floats, and balloons. And you have to watch all the way until you see Santa at the end!
The best part about Thanksgiving is taking the time to really reflect. Life is so busy with work, activities and lots of fun in there as well. But, we rarely take the time to not only stop and think about being thankful but also don’t take the time to put in the effort to tell those that we care about and appreciate that we are thankful. Giving thanks is a mix of showing and saying how grateful we are to those we love.
We do have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. But it wouldn’t be the same without my mom’s famous Candied Sweet Potatoes! Even people who don’t like sweet potatoes fall in love with these. Buttery and sweet, I fill my plate halfway just with those and some turkey. I’ll save the rest for the leftover day.
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is that I get to spend it with my Uncle Larry. He lives in Virginia and we don’t see each other often enough or really get the time to connect much throughout the year. We sit around and catch up, enjoy a cocktail or two and just laugh together.
My favorite Thanksgiving food is cold Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream. It’s really the only time of year that we have it around the house. I love having it cold right from the fridge so the apples are crisp.
If I could thank one person for their influence on my life, It would be my Nana. I was blessed to have her live with us for almost 10 years of my life. She taught me to find joy in everything – even when life isn’t exactly easy. On my worst days, I still look for the rainbow through the rain.
One way to stay focused on gratitude and I honestly don’t do it enough, is Thank You cards.
One piece of advice I would give to the next generation would be not to feel like you can’t modernize the traditions. Things don’t always have to be the same as they always were. Make it your own. Also, make sure to plan for activities or crafts or something fun. Nothing is worse than after dinner when everyone retreats to the couch and gets on their phones again.
I’m famous for my Pecan Pie Bars and I think everyone should make them! Enjoy!
Derek Berge, Co-Founder, Wedding Venue Map
Thanksgiving is a great break, a week off of work, and the start of the Christmas season and it always involves family (sometimes a whole bunch and sometimes just a few).
This year, I’m thankful for the return of the economy and the wonderful clients I have worked with for many years.
I have a few special memories of Thanksgiving. The first, was when I served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 18 months in the country of Taiwan. I was serving in a small town a long way from home in a culture very different than my own. I had a companion who was a REAL cowboy from Arizona (his family lived out of a chuckwagon during the summers while herding cattle). He was an excellent cook and he made the best chili I have ever eaten. He cooked it for about 5 hours in a large Chinese wok. It was far from a traditional Thanksgiving meal but was a feast.
The second was when I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease in October 1986, having just started a new semester at college. After the diagnosis, I had to drop out of school and return home to have surgery and begin radiation treatment. Gail and I had just started dating when she found a lump near my neck. She and my sister drove 7 hours from college to our home in Denver for Thanksgiving. I was anxious to see her and thrilled she was visiting. I had driven to run a nearby errand and I happened to see them in their car. I will never forget that moment!
The third was when our 4 kids were young, we made a tradition of going camping for Thanksgiving, from Wednesday thru Saturday at Wekiva Springs State Park. Outside in a giant tent, sleeping bags, campfire, cooking outside, and lots of warm clothes, etc. It was a good deal of work to take 4 small kids but a fun memory.
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is eating. Gail is an exceptional cook and my waistline reflects the indulgence.
My mom was a great cook but it was not until I married Gail that I had her Grandma’s real Southern Mac and Cheese. I wondered how I had ever lived thinking Mac and Cheese was only made by Kraft and came in a box. It is the food that is most like Thanksgiving to me.
To stay focused on gratitude throughout the year, you have to learn to look for silver linings in everything. We often learn best as we sojourn thru difficult times and that is what helps us see our potential. There is always someone who faces challenges more difficult than your trials and could use your help. So get over feeling sorry for yourself and help someone else. I am most grateful for the ability to work, what a blessing to go about accomplishing good things while working with wonderful people.
Kate Shore, Member Concierge
Growing up Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. We got to see all of our cousins on my Dad’s side – there are 20 of us! Now that we’ve grown up, it’s rare for all of us to be in one place, but those yearly get-togethers instilled a huge love of the holiday for me.
I am thankful to have found a preschool for my son that we all truly love, a flexible job so I can continue to pursue my own passions and business (Thanks, Shannon!), a gym where I feel welcome and supported and know I’m getting stronger and healthier, and an all-around kickass husband.
I don’t have one specific special Thanksgiving memory, but rather the collection of memories and the strong relationships I have with my extended family. It’s hard to imagine my childhood and my life without our annual gathering with all of the aunts, uncles, and cousins. After losing one of my uncles unexpectedly a few years ago, I am so glad to have had that connection with him and so many Thanksgiving memories with the whole family.
We have a tradition of going to the movies on Thanksgiving afternoon! It probably started as a way for the adults to get all of us out of the house when we were kids so they could get the cooking done, but it’s a tradition that stuck around. I also like watching the Macy’s parade and the dog show that comes on after it 🙂
We would also go with all our cousins to this little graveyard down the street from my aunt and uncle’s house late after Thanksgiving dinner… that’s normal, right?
Giving thanks is not just writing a list of things you are grateful for, it’s truly feeling that gratitude. Letting people know when they’ve impacted you in a positive way, whether it’s big or small is a way to share your thanks.
If we get together with our extended family, dinner stays pretty traditional. Turkey, stuffing, casseroles, and desserts. Rarely a veggie in sight. If it’s just us at home, we usually opt for ham or chicken instead of turkey (I really don’t understand why people get so pumped about turkey, honestly.) My favorite is stuffing!
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is just taking it easy all day. A slow morning watching TV, grilled cheese for lunch, a movie, and then lots and lots of yummy food.
If I could thank someone past or present, I have got a few teachers I wish I’d stayed in touch with. I would let them know how much positive influence they have had on my life.
In order to stay focused on gratitude throughout the year, I try to not move too quickly through my days so that I can be mindful of what I have and how much I am grateful for the things and people in my life.
Now that I have a kid, the advice I would give him about establishing his own traditions is to know that he can do things his own way. A tradition for tradition’s sake is meaningless, so hold on to the ones you enjoy, and create your own new ones!
Melissa Spek, Brand Manager
Thanksgiving means everything to me. I met my husband on Thanksgiving Day, so it’s always special.
I’m always thankful for good health! AND I’m not just saying it, but I’m really thankful for the opportunity to work with and learn from Shannon and WVM.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is when I returned home to Las Vegas from California. My Dad was coaching football at UNLV, and they had a big rivalry game Thanksgiving weekend against BYU. The coaches all asked some of the guys to their homes since they couldn’t go home. One of the guys was my husband Jeff. He walked into the room and said ‘Hello’ in this deep voice and I was captivated. Throughout the afternoon we chatted. I asked him if he played backgammon. He said he did. 13 games later, he was 0-13. As an athlete, he was not happy, he hates to lose! My Aunt called me to the kitchen, my Mother and sister followed. My Aunt said, “If you like this guy, you better let him win.” Being an athlete myself, I told her, “If he likes me, he better up his game!” It was awesome!
Now one of our traditions every Thanksgiving is for Jeff and me to play a game of backgammon, and now our sons play too!
Thanksgiving means stopping to take a moment in the craziness of life to really think of all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.
I associate all the traditional stuff, but the must-haves are sweet potato casserole and pecan pie. My favorite is creamed onion, but I’ll be sharing the recipe I use to make my Sweet Potato Casserole dish!
One of my favorite parts of the holiday is I love being in the kitchen with everyone wearing aprons with sayings or patterns that reflect their styles, laughing, sipping some wine, and cooking.
If I could thank one person, I’d thank my Mom. She passed away 3 weeks before Thanksgiving. I still have a list of all the things we were going to make, who was doing and getting what. I carry it in my purse.
To stay focused on gratitude throughout the year, I actually wear a bracelet that has “Thankful – Grateful” written on it. I never take it off.
I’ve shared with my sons that Thanksgiving does not have to be a day in November. We can stop and be thankful any day we choose.
Mia Murphy, Blog Assistant
To me, Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate all of the positive things surrounding my life. I choose to spend the holiday relaxing, eating, and reflecting on what I am thankful for.
This year, I am thankful to have an amazing support system from my family, friends, and co-workers! I am also thankful for my education and schooling as I come closer to graduating from UCF.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is when my best friend and I convinced both of our families to go to a Thanksgiving buffet, rather than cooking. It was so fun to be able to try lots of different foods and also see my best friend during the holiday. However, the very best part of a Thanksgiving buffet is no dishes!
My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with my parents.
Giving thanks is about reflecting on the positive things in your life, whether that be people, experiences or, objects.
When I think of Thanksgiving, I immediately think of pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. Those are my favorite foods to eat and make me feel like it’s fall!
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the post-dinner nap.
To focus on my gratitude, I write down the highlight of my day in my planner. It has been a great way for me to show more appreciation and actively seek out positive experiences each day. It is also fun to look back at the highlights from a few months ago and read about what I was doing at that time.
Debbi Radlinsky, Bookkeeping
Thanksgiving means spending time at home together (just the 5 of us) with no stress! I love it!
I am always thankful for the same thing…my kids!!! And also for the chance to have my own business from home with wonderful people.
A favorite Thanksgiving memory is being in our cabin in Maine, in the middle of NOWHERE, with no electricity or running water, I cooked the entire turkey meal and it was perfect!! (We do have some things running off propane, but not like I’m used to!)
Our traditions are super simple. I cook the turkey dinner with all the trimmings that we like and the football games are on all day. That’s it! All the traditional foods are served and we eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and rolls. Dessert is usually pumpkin & apple pie.
To me, “give thanks” is being appreciative of all the good things in my life and saying them out loud.
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is being home with no obligations and I love TURKEY!
I try to stay focused on gratitude and thank the people that made my happiness possible as often as I can.
Traditions are what you take and add to as you see fit. Don’t spend holidays unhappy because you are following somebody else’s norm. It’s always great to go around the table and ask everybody what they are thankful for, even if they give you a hard time! 🙂
Craig Brooks, Clarity Creative (our website management gurus)
Thanksgiving is an opportunity to reflect on gratitude.
I’m most thankful for the health of my wife and son!
A special memory for me was having the entire family at my mom’s house in 2019 after she had gotten some positive updates on her health.
The traditions on my end are pretty fluid. The Wednesday before Turkey Day… get near some friends and family, and be present in the time with them.
Giving thanks = gratitude, which is an attitude that I wish more people embraced. It starts with getting comfortable literally thanking people when they do things for you, but it goes much deeper. Finding your connection to gratitude is the great liberator of negativity.
I associate the staples for Thanksgiving meals, turkey, stuffing, etc. Though, my wife and I watched Padma’s Taste the Nation special and have more interest in learning about the origins of these foods we love. My favorite is a bacon-wrapped Turkey that my mother-in-law makes.
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is seeing friends and family.
I thank my parents regularly for the work they put in. They may not hear it, because I’m verbose, but I make sure to recognize verbally the effort they put in to set me up for success.
To focus on gratitude, every day I try to think about the health of my family and know that because we all woke up today, it is a good day!
I hope the next generation prioritizes quality connections through honesty, accountability, and gratitude. It’s the way to have deep connecty-nects, (this should be a word!), which fuels everything else.
David Forman, Clarity Creative (our website management gurus)
For me, Thanksgiving is a day to rest, spend time with family, and connect with others. Any excuse to have a fun meal is a win!
This year I’m most thankful for family.
One of my favorite memories growing up was we got to go see the Macys Thanksgiving Parade. Watching it on TV is different than being there and I always think of the crazy stories of the hustle and bustle of being able to see it in person.
I guess not an unusual tradition, but we watch football.
To give thanks means to give back, to be there for your friends and family.
Our Thanksgiving meal is traditional all the way and let it be known, it is not Thanksgiving without stuffing and pumpkin pie! I love stuffing.
Seeing family that we don’t usually see during the year so the one time to catch up with them is at Thanksgiving. That’s one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving.
One person, past or present that I would thank for their influence on my life is my Dad.
I like to stay focused and involved with a few charities throughout the year, so by participating year after year, it keeps it top of mind and I look forward to it.
The advice I would share is to use Thanksgiving as a time to connect with others, create a tradition where even if it is only once a year, you connect with those around you that you don’t have time to normally reach out to. It is a great time to just pause since most things are closed, so use that as a moment to make the most of it.