Here at the J, we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate Thanksgiving with our close friends and family and (let’s be honest), to eat a lot of food.

But, apart from our ravenous taste buds, we like to think of Thanksgiving as a day in which everyone puts their differences aside in order to make room for what’s most important: gratitude and tradition. Gratitude is the metaphorical head of every family’s table on Thanksgiving and tradition is what holds it all together. We took a look around the J and decided to gather up a few members of our hardworking staff to hear about their favorite Thanksgiving memories, traditions, and what they’re grateful for as 2017 comes to a close.

Mark Siebert, Fitness & Wellness Director

“As an outdoor enthusiast, I have always loved getting up early on Thanksgiving morning while the air is still crisp to go for a hike in the mountains. During these hikes, my wife and I do our individual self-reflection and then share what we are each thankful for. I’m grateful for this time away from the TV, phone, computer, traffic, work, etc. because it truly brings us both back to reality and realigns us for the days, weeks, and months ahead.”

Debbie Goodman, Director of Jewish Life and Learning

“One of the most memorable Thanksgiving holidays I ever experienced was in Jerusalem many years ago when I was a student in the One Year Program at the Hebrew University. We were very fortunate to have a wonderful family in Jerusalem serving as resident advisors for our group. As one of the family members was actually from Denver and had been living in Israel for many years, the family continued to celebrate Thanksgiving. In the midst of Jerusalem we enjoyed a traditional, very meaningful and unique Thanksgiving meal and celebration. I am grateful for my family and friends, and for the good fortune to have been born and raised in the US and the opportunity to live in a free and democratic society.”

Kellie Lambert, Director of Administration, MACC

“One of my favorite foods at Thanksgiving when I was a kid was my mother’s cranberry sauce. It’s made with cranberry sauce mixed with jello and fruit and it takes a long time to make because it has several layers. I’m sure it was not my mom’s favorite thing because it takes a while to make, but it’s my favorite, so now she lets me make it.”

Shana JacobsShana Jacobs, Camp Registration & Office Specialist

“One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is that my entire family gathers on the front lawn for an intense game of croquet. From aged 5-70, everyone competes. For an hour, the neighbors peak out the windows to see what all the cheering and yelling is about. And don’t forget about the victory lap that the lucky winner takes at the end of the day!”

Abby Copilevitz, Front Desk Attendant

“Every Thanksgiving I head back to St. Louis to see my family. This year my little sister and I will be starting the tradition of running the turkey trot but one of my absolute favorite things is spending the day cooking with my Mom and Grandma. Obviously eating is a great part of Thanksgiving, but other than that it’s one of the few times during the year when my whole family is able to get together. This year, I am grateful to have started working at the JCC because it’s been awesome to be around such great people all of the time. I’m always thankful that my family and friends are happy and healthy!”

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and ‘l’chaim’ to you and yours from all of us here at J Denver.