While children often look forward to Christmas as their favorite day of the year, many adults say Thanksgiving is tops.
Among those counting the uniquely American holiday as their favorite day of the year is Realtor Christina Meinen as she looks forward to spending time with family.
Grayton's DeLene Sholes agrees and is looking forward to family and friends gathering at a river house.
"The main dishes are assigned and everyone brings a dish so that everyone's favorite is served," she said. "Tables on the porch overlook the river and are decorated with flowers and leaves gathered from outside. We hold hands and thank God for our many blessings. It's my favorite holiday."
The day is also Sandestin's Kent and Peggy Lillie's favorite. "We always include in our blessing 'those great Americans who can't be with their families as they are at risk around the world, protecting our country.' Then we always overeat, especially turkey and pumpkin pie!" said Kent.
Eastern Lake's Lane Rees looks forward to family fellowship, as does Chef Giovanni Filippone, and Attorney Ed Walborsky. Artist Debbie Weant always spends the day with her mama.
For 33 years, Freeport's Bill Stephenson's immediate and extended family has ventured to a state park for a family holiday celebration. There have been as few as a dozen people available to attend and as many as 40 attending. They have met at state parks in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Alabama, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida. Family activities have included hiking, snowsleding, fishing, arts and crafts, reading, spoiling the youngsters, golf, swimming, cooking, eating, and relaxing.
In addition to time spent with family, Thanksgiving also conjures up thoughts of special foods.
In addition to time with family, Seagrove's Donnelle Clark especially looks forward to eating ambrosia on Thanksgiving Day, which is made with her grandmother's recipe and eaten with a piece of coconut cake made with fresh grated coconut.
When family and visitors ask Gulf Place's Bill Freeze the best place in the area to eat, he always says "my house" because Cheryl Freeze is a tremendous cook. So, to give her a holiday and keep her out of the kitchen, he is taking Cheryl, her son and daughter and their children on a cruise to Nassau for Thanksgiving. But on her return she must fix her famous dressing for all, said Bill.
Santa Rosa Beach's Carol Wenrick remembers when her clan all gathered at Mom and Pop's home in New Jersey and Carol did the cooking, but they are both deceased now. In the past 10 years they have gotten together with friends. But last year and this year, they are joining Denny’s sister and her husband at a cabin in the woods; last year in Gatlinburg, and this year northwest Georgia.
As a child, Alys Beach's George Hartley remembers seeing his cousins at his grandparents' house, and, of course, dessert. As an adult, his tradition is seeing all his kids home, and, of course, dessert.
Sandestin's Gerry Christman's tradition is fairly simple: cranberries.
Artist Aaron Sutton says his wife and mother-in-law always make amazing chocolate-chip cookies with chunks of dark chocolate bars rather than regular chips. "They are awesome. A glass of milk and three of those and I'm done!" he said.
Santa Rosa Beach's Beth Coppedge's Thanksgiving tradition is cooking dinner for her entire family (now 18 members) who join Bob and herself from Atlanta. She makes her mom's sausage dressing using the family recipe from the 1800s.
Freeport's Karen Kolenberg's family tradition is to make her great-grandmother's turkey dressing and Waldorf salad together. "It has become a right of passage for the small children," she said. "They start out only being able to tear the bread and graduate to removing the seeds from the grapes, to cutting the grapes in half, to being able to turn the crank on Great Gran's meat grinder. The cooking of the food involves everyone, some good snacks and delicious wine or grape juice as age would dictate."
At Jerry and Doreen Baca's Sandestin house, the tradition is to reflect on everything they have to be thankful for: love, health, family and great friends. "However, we wish we could include saving all the homeless animals in the world, including the turkeys!" said Doreen.
Seagrove's Jane and Greg Bahr have several Thanksgiving Day traditions. Cafe Thirty-A always cooks their turkey, the Bahrs work at Cottages for Kids in Rosemary Beach, then they enjoy a late lunch. "It's always a great day with friends," said Jane.
Thanksgiving is when the Chick and Cathy Huettel clan comes together in Santa Rosa Beach from Memphis and Huntsville. They rotate locations every year and exchange Christmas presents, but not to be opened until Christmas.
Dawn Moliterno's Thanksgiving Day routine includes getting up and watching the Macy’s Day Parade while cooking Thanksgiving dinner at her Sandestin home. After dinner they scout all the shopping deals and rise and shine at 4 a.m. to go get 'em.
Santa Rosa Beach's John Bryant's tradition is attending the annual "Turkey Run" Classic Car event at Daytona International Speedway.
When Santa Rosa Beach's Buz Livingston thinks of Thanksgiving, he thinks of listening to “Alice’s Restaurant.”
"A must for me Thanksgiving morning is to take a long walk by myself or with family on the Western Lake trail," said former Artist of the Year Allison Wickey.
A tradition Realtor Bobby Johnson is thankful for is that he always sells lots every Thanksgiving Day.
Seagrove's Randy Torrey always counts his myriad of blessings, for where he lives and for his health, happiness and safety, and this year he is praying that our great country can turn itself around.
Miramar Beach's Carol Annino said she loves Thanksgiving since it is a time to be with family and share a festive dinner experience. However, the last couple of years she has added something special to the mix. "I love spending Thanksgiving Day serving meals for the homeless at the Waterfront Mission Shelter in Fort Walton Beach. When I get home I truly feel grateful for all the blessings we have," she said.