By Brian Bearden, TSB Contributing Writer
Thanksgiving is a special time in McKinney.
On Thursday morning, look for Deputy Police Chief Kim Malolepszy making her rounds and knocking on doors.
“A family tradition for me is delivering Meals on Wheels on Thanksgiving morning,” she said. “It is an opportunity for my family to give back. After making our deliveries, we enjoy Thanksgiving at my home with extended family. And, of course, watching some football!”
McKinney Community Center Supervisor Trish Yanes, who enjoys watching the Food Network on TV, has her favorite foods: “My sister’s cornbread dressing along with the homemade tamales; both items share the spotlight at my Thanksgiving table. … My 11-year-old niece [Rebecca] is learning her way around the kitchen. I’m sure she is planning on baking something special for Thanksgiving.
“It’s all about the ‘F’s’ – Faith, Family, Friends, Football & Food!,” she said. “This year, I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving at the Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins football game. I always look forward to that rival game. I also recognize that I have been very blessed in my life to be surrounded by my family and friends, and it’s important to give back to others, not only during the holidays but throughout the year. … A special thank you to all the men and women who serve our country.”
Landscape Architect/Arborist Emily Braht will be anticipating Thanksgiving dinner.
“The dressing is one of my favorite foods,” Braht said. “It must have cornbread in it with nuts and apples! Since I am making the dinner it is all tradition family favorites. … So no new recipes this year!”
Braht said her ideal Thanksgiving includes watching parades and football games. … having a fire in the fire place and taking a nice hike after the dinner.”
At the Senior Recreation Center, Supervisor Laura Cegelski enjoys trying new desserts: “Anything with chocolate, nuts and cool whip.
“I am a traditional gal when it comes to the holidays,” Cegelski said. “I enjoy traditional holiday foods like turkey and dressing, mash potatoes and giblet gravy and green beans casserole, but when it comes to desserts, I cannot miss a piece of good ole’-fashioned pecan pie.
“The week of Thanksgiving is typically a shortened week at the Senior Recreation Center [SRC] due to the city holiday in itself, but the action never stops here. The holiday season rings in a busy time of the year at the SRC.”
The Collin County Committee on Aging provides a traditional Thanksgiving meal the Wednesday before the holiday, Cegelski said. Staff and volunteers come together and deck the SRC with plenty of holiday trimmings.
“This time of the year brings back many memories for the members, and having the opportunity to be surrounded by family and great friends is heart-warming,” she said. “The SRC strives to create that feeling of comfort and being ‘Home for the Holidays’ during their visits. For many of our members, this is their only place to celebrate the holidays.
Cegelski said, “Having been married to my wonderful husband for 18 years, I am one blessed lady. What’s the secret? ~ Compromise. It really works! This year, my family and I will have the traditional trimmings with my in-laws on Thanksgiving day and then again on Saturday following Thanksgiving with my side of the family. Each year we alternate, and it works out perfect for us. I will admit another family tradition of ours is to watch the Dallas Cowboys play on Thanksgiving Day. Let’s hope for a big win this week against the Washington Redskins!”
Historic Preservation Officer Guy R. Giersch fills up on the turkey and dressing.
“A food that I have never had is the oyster dressing,” Giersch said. “I guess that is an East Coast thing and have not been exposed to it. My favorite way to celebrate is, of course, with family and friends. Doing the big meal and sitting around moaning from eating too much. I miss not having my Mom and Dad to celebrate with. I am very thankful for them and what they gave me. An old McKinney Holiday tradition is syllabub. Not sure I spelled that right. It is made with port and cream. Chestnut Square has the recipe.”
City Councilman Roger Harris said, “My wife bakes ‘the best turkey!’ followed closely by her pecan pie!”
Neil Howard, Assistant Fire Chief of Administration, said: “New sweet dishes are always great.”
The fire fighter’s favorite food Thursday will again be the sweet potatoes. McKinney has some talented chefs in the fire houses, including Ruben Reyes.
Howard said he will be “spending the day at home my with family; my beautiful wife and five daughters and grandchildren. Just taking in all the festivities.”
Don’t expect Ty Lake to slow down for the holiday. The director of McKinney Main Street and the McKinney Performing Arts Center is working on Dickens of a Christmas – Home for the Holidays, which runs Nov. 23-25 downtown.
Lake’s favorite Thanksgiving food is a toss-up between eggplant casserole and her mother’s turkey dressing recipe: “Love them both equally.
“I will try almost anything, so it is not a matter of what new food is out there, it’s how hungry I am at the time,” Lake said. “Setting up for Dickens is my Thanksgiving celebration – so in a sense it is a true Thanksgiving reflection of thankfulness, sweet moments and memories.
Lake said, “Although I have missed those special Thanksgiving gatherings for the past eight years, I have a solid day to reflect and be thankful for the many things in my life that surround me each day, and I am truly blessed. My favorite part is at the end of the day, when I talk to my son Parker and husband Brad (they go to Longview to celebrate), and I can hear the excitement of the day from the phone line and how their tummies got full. They always bring me a plate back so I get to enjoy the yumminess as well.”
City Code Enforcement Supervisor Mike Morrisey will be digging in on the garlic mashed potatoes, which are his favorite Thanksgiving food (except for turkey sandwiches at about 9 p.m. that night).
Morrisey sticks to what he likes when it comes to dinner choices on this holiday.
“I am all about sameness, not much into adventures with food,” Morrisey said. “I very much like to enjoy the company of family and friends. Growing up, my Mom always encouraged us to invite “strays” (friends that had no family in town or any other place to go) over for supper. It was a mixed-bag of people and very normal for us. I still enjoy that type of gathering now.”
City Director of Planning Michael Quint has his favorites mapped out: “Mashed potatoes and gravy, Ham (no turkey for me; too many bad childhood memories. … Those poor turkeys didn’t deserve to be treated that way), and “Chocolate Delight” (one of my wife’s family recipes: a chocolate pudding, whipped cream, and nut desert concoction).”
Does he try new foods during Thanksgiving? “I’ll try any food once as long as it doesn’t look or smell bad,” he said.
Quint likes to spend the day relaxing with family while watching football and playing with all of the kids.”
The one question many in town wants to know from Quint is: As a planner, do you do the planning of this holiday at home?
Quint said, “Not a chance. My wife takes the reins at home, especially during the holiday season. I just do what I’m told and try to stay out of the way.”
City councilman Ray Ricchi said, “My daughter and I just went grocery shopping. We picked up everything, including the pumpkin pie and apple pie and ice cream.” He will be enjoying the day, trying to slow down time with his junior daughter and freshman son – who are growing fast. Seven days later, his sophomore in college will be back home from South Carolina, too.
Assistant Police Chief Randy Roland is a just the basics guy on Thanksgiving.
“I am a traditionalist,” Roland said. “No new food on Thanksgiving for me. Turkey, dressing, gravy and bread is all I need. … I like the dark meat part of the Turkey, right off the bone.”
Roland said: “We do not really have the time to dedicate to cooking large meals at the police station for all to enjoy but when we do have the special celebration around the holidays, I am surprised by the great desserts that are prepared by our officers and civilian staff. If I had to pick the best Chef it would be Lou Ann Raetz, CID Assistant.
Roland said, “My family rotates between my parents’ home and my in-laws home each year for Thanksgiving. Going to my grandparents home for the holidays is a lasting memory from my childhood.”
Executive director Barry Shelton of Development Services for the city starts the day outdoors.
“I take my boys and go play in an early morning football game with some friends,” Shelton said. Then they return home for dinner.
“We have a family recipe [for stuffing and dressing] that my mother has made for as long as I can remember,” Shelton said. “We usually stick with the same things every year, but may have some new desserts to try.
The City’s Commercial Development Project Expediter Dana Stillwell said, “We tend to stick with the same items, and my husband makes some really great deviled eggs with curry that everyone loves.
“I love the sweet potatoes,” she said. “I am actually not a big fan of turkey when it comes out of the oven, but would rather have cold turkey sandwiches the next day! Have to say I love the pecan and pumpkin pies too with some whipped cream!
Stillwell said, “Cowboys football is definitely on tap for the day, perhaps a little shopping. Maybe a movie this year, and my daughter is volunteering at Dickens, so we will also be enjoying that. Since we are usually not in town we’ve never been to Dickens. We are really looking forward to seeing what we’ve been hearing about for years.”