Turkey Day Traditions Sun City Families Share Stories on How They Make the Holiday Special, from Football to Dinner Dishes

By La Masney, Sharon | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), November 16, 2001 | Go to article overview

Turkey Day Traditions Sun City Families Share Stories on How They Make the Holiday Special, from Football to Dinner Dishes


La Masney, Sharon, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Sharon La Masney Daily Herald Correspondent

Family traditions and sharing give special meaning to Thanksgiving for Sun City residents. This year many will be gathering with family members in their new homes here while others travel near and far to be with loved ones.

Sun City resident Joan Riffner will spend Thanksgiving with her son and daughter-in-law and her family. Her daughter-in-law's family is from Iran and between 25 and 30 family members are expected to attend.

Along with the traditional Thanksgiving fare, Joan is looking forward to some of the delicious Iranian foods, such as fig platters and lamb. They will open the meal with special prayers and dedications from various family members.

Sun City resident Marie Sesterhenn will prepare for her Thanksgiving by baking up a big batch of her turkey cut-out cookies. The family will gather together for a traditional meal at the home of her son and daughter-in-law in Libertyville. There will be between 15 and 20 people in attendance for dinner, some coming from Iowa.

Marie spent many years hosting the family Thanksgiving dinner. Now she is a guest, but still brings some of her special dishes. A family favorite is her sweet and sour cabbage and her fresh Brussels sprouts.

Judy Lange will leave Sun City on Thanksgiving and travel to Tennessee with her son and daughter-in-law to spend the day with Judy's sister and mother, who is now in a nursing home. The gathering is expected to be small this year, but Judy will continue a tradition her husband started. Recently widowed this past August, Judy has fond memories of her husband Ron's before-dinner toast. Each family member joined together in a toast of gratitude that was led by her husband.

Sun City resident Evy Schumacker will join her two sons and their families at one of her sons homes as she has been doing for the past 22 years. They both live nearby in Lake in the Hills and Crystal Lake. Though she is not planning to bring a food dish, she will bring a turkey platter to be used as a serving dish for the dinner.

Eleanor O'Neill will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for about 32 people - with six children, their spouses and 18 grandchildren in attendance. She does the cooking every year and each of the six children take turns hosting the dinner. Eleanor prepares all of the main dishes for the dinner, and other family members add to the table with side dishes.

Eleanor makes a special mushroom dish and bacon biscuits, which are her family's Polish specialties. Eleanor's 89-year-old mother, who also resides in Sun City, is there to supervise in the preparation of traditional Polish dishes. Even though Eleanor will roast a 22-pound turkey, another family member will be adding a new item to the table this year - a 12-pound deep fried turkey.

Sun Citian Betty Mahler has been preparing the same meal for Thanksgiving dinner for the past 20 years. This year she will be traveling to San Diego to be with family.

She will prepare the dinner with all of the family favorites: roast turkey with a special traditional German dressing that includes a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and raisins; freshly cooked cranberries in Gran Marnier sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie.

Several years ago, due to a blight on cranberries, she was unable to find any in the stores so she found an alternative recipe using prunes which was delicious, but her family missed her special cranberry sauce. …

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