Southsider Voice correspondent
While some families gather to enjoy a no-stress thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant, others make the drive to grandma’s house or host the meal and all the dirty dishes too, at their own homes.
Some families emphasize the preparation of the dinner. They look forward to sharing favorite recipes on a beautifully decorated table.
Other families gobble a late lunch on paper plates, play some friendly football in the backyard and snooze through a movie.
In other kitchens, just as soon as the leftovers are wrapped up and refrigerated, serious shoppers set their sights on store discounts.
Maybe your family has deeply rooted traditions or maybe traditions have changed through the years, especially after the loss of loved ones.
No matter how and where we spend Thanksgiving Day, it is usually less about the turkey and much more about enjoying time with the people we love best.
Here is how some people will celebrate the day.
While more and more Black Friday enthusiasts choose to shop online at home in pajamas and bed head, millions of other die-hard bargain hunters brave the mob with serious determination.
Jamie Hadden is one of those serious shoppers, and Black Friday is her passion.
Nothing stops her from diving into the discounts, Hadden said. For example, one year her foot was broken but she shopped from a wheelchair while husband Bruce Hadden navigated through the crowds.
“Never again will I ask my husband to take me shopping on Black Friday,” she said with a laugh. “At Toys R Us he ended up shoving people out of the way with my broken foot.”
Long before her last shift ends at O’Gara’s Irish Pub, Hadden has scanned ads with daughter Shelby Hendrickson and family friend Danielle Barr.
Determination is key. But wardrobe choices are also important.
“Last year I wore boots,” Barr said. “And I immediately regretted it. I ended up buying a pair of house slippers. And I wore those all night.”
Between store openings the women set alarms on their cellphones and take power naps. There’s little time for coffee and energy drinks.
And there’s certainly no time for bathroom breaks.
“By 2 a.m. we are all pretty slap happy,” Hadden said.
Each year, Hadden’s plan is the same. She grabs discounted video games for her son and serious gamer, Vince Hadden.
For Barr and Hendrickson, the hunt is all about finding Marshall, a popular robot toy.
Santa has promised that certain robot to her little guy, 14-month-old Kacen, Hendrickson said.
Marshall is also on her list, Barr said, along with lots of Barbies for her little girls, Hadleigh, 5, and Rayeli, 4.
Last year they sprinted through seven different stores, hunting for a specific toy, Hendrickson said.
“Then Danielle found it,” Hendrickson giggled. “She was yelling, ‘I got it! I got it!’ And holding it up like the Lion King.”
From Greenwood Park Mall to the Taylorville Outlet Mall and several stores in between, their shopping frenzy ends 14 to 18 hours after it begins, Hendrickson said.
“It’s been a tradition for years. I love it,” Hendrickson said. “With my mom it’s our us time together. Hopefully someday I have a daughter myself and I can keep passing that tradition on.”
Singing ‘Alice’s Restaurant’
For at least 30 years at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. it happens.
No one knows exactly how it got started or who started it, either.
She can’t prove her suspicions, said Cristy Batinich. But she is fairly certain that her dad, Bill Lentz, and her aunt, Donna Singleton, are the culprits.
Anyway, after family members are well fed and lounging around the dining room table together, the tradition begins.
At 4 p.m. on the dot the radio is turned on and the entire family belts out every single word of “Alice’s Restaurant.”
“The song has very little to do with Thanksgiving,” Batinich said with a laugh. “But every year I make corn bread casserole and I look forward to my mom’s sweet potato soufflé. And then, yeah, we all sing ‘Alice’s Restaurant.’ ”
Passing down recipes
Some families are blessed with a matriarch who spends her life teaching and talking and loving everyone around her.
For Judy Bell, that adored matriarch was her mother, Ethel Bell.
Since losing her mom in 2013, only a few months shy of her 90th birthday, holidays have never been the same.
But out of respect for her mother’s memory, Bell prepares thanksgiving dinner exactly the way her mother taught her to do, many years ago.
Since her only child, Kayla Mettura, doesn’t show much interest in cooking, Bell sees some culinary promise in her 7-year-old granddaughter, Libby Bell.
“Libby will probably be the one I pass the recipes to,” Bell said. “She is always asking me if her Nammy taught me how to make whatever we are having for supper.”