Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

A New Thanksgiving

June Wilner shows us what she’s thankful for with her crafty Turkey.

Well here we go again…another pandemic holiday where we’ve been advised not to gather with friends and family. Thanksgiving is the time when we love to visit relatives, embrace traditions and enjoy yearly rituals around the dinner table. This year, however, those traditions will change and with that adjustment comes a sense of loss. 

Author Anne Wilner with siblings Ted & Ernie Giapapas, on their way to Las Vegas in 1990.

I grew up spending Thanksgivings in Las Vegas with my dad’s side of the family. We’d bundle up and take the long drive east, arriving at my grandparents house, giddy to finally see them. I can still envision my Papou (grandfather in Greek) making meatballs while educating us that “nobody likes turkey” in his thick Greek accent. At the end of the evening, all of the cousins would gather around the table to play poker with candy as the currency. Years later, my grandparents passed away and we spent Thanksgiving at home in LA. While I missed the anticipation of the drive to Vegas and the smell of meatballs, I would always be overjoyed to see my cousins, play poker and share stories of the past.

Anne’s Papou Ted preparing the Thanksgiving meal.

Then in 2014, I got married and once again Thanksgiving changed. Now I was on my way to spend the holiday with my husband Jess’s family in Oklahoma. While I was naturally disappointed to miss out on reuniting with my cousins, I relished the time learning about how my new family celebrated. My mother in law put out a basket to confiscate our cell phones and placed a glass of Syrah in my hand instead (I was not mad at this). We sat around the dinner table sharing what we were each grateful for and enjoyed an incredible meal.

A hands-free Thanksgiving courtesy of “the cell phone basket.”

You can probably guess why I’m sharing this. Change, while disappointing, can have some silver linings. This is a chance to create some new traditions of your own to pass down to the next generations. My Papou may not be around anymore, but I may have to bring back the meatballs this year! Here are some suggestions of how to celebrate Thanksgiving in 2020.

CONNECT: One of my favorite rituals is chatting with family while preparing the meal. Pick one favorite dish for everyone to make and prepare it together over Zoom.  Maybe this is the secret-ingredient eggplant dish that Aunt Joanna brings to the party. And perhaps the pandemic is all she needs to finally share the recipe.

SHOW GRATITUDE: Who doesn’t love receiving a card in the mail? I plan on sending a few handwritten notes giving thanks this year and continuing this new practice for years to come. Letting someone know that they’ve made a difference in your life is so powerful. It lifts you up to write the note and it lifts up the person who receives it.  

GIVE BACK: Make a difference in the community with a donation. Giving back always makes me feel so good! For $20, through the local Saban Community Clinic, you can provide a hot shower and essential items to someone experiencing homelessness. You could also donate Thanksgiving dinners to the less fortunate through Gobble Gobble Give

DECORATE: Even if it’s just a table set for two people, make it special. Pull out china, family heirlooms, a tablecloth, flowers and anything else that elevates the everyday dining experience. 

Personalized pumpkins are a festive way to enhance your Thanksgiving tablescape.

While I look forward to gathering in person again in 2021, I hope we all have a safe, joyous and meaningful Thanksgiving this year.


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Anne Wilner
Anne Wilner
Anne Wilner is an event planner who lives with her family in Larchmont Village. Anne has more than fifteen years of experience in event production and management, hospitality and catering. From the moment she saw “Franck Eggelhoffer” in Father of the Bride at the age of 7, she decided she was going to be an event planner and never looked back.

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  1. Bravo Annie, Great article and picture of adorable Annie. Loved the pictue of you, Teddy and Ernie!
    Miss all of my cousins in L.A. too! Love Thea Harriet


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