The Road Warrior

A lot to be thankful for: Grub, gratitude and tradition (no matter how you define it)

A lot to be thankful for: Grub, gratitude and all sorts of traditions

Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving table with turkey and family
Thanksgiving is just about everyone's favorite holiday. Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Apparently I am not alone. Google “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday” and voila, 85 million results appear. No presents required except a couple of bottles— OK cases—of wine for the host, loads of football and no tacky Christmas sweaters. You have four days to spend with family and friends while avoiding the plethora of holiday parties. When is the last time you were invited to a Thanksgiving party?

This year I will be carving the turkey in a new home, graced by my partner, who is extraordinary in every way, my son and extended family. It will be a low-key day with a focus on being together. But enough about me as I turn to my co-workers for their thoughts.


Pam Kutner, a gourmet cook, invites a “hodge podge” of guests who don’t know each other. “We don’t have a family in Houston, so every year I get to create a new family.” Her “family” this year totals 18, some of whom she has yet to meet. Sarah Mitchell of our San Francisco office is the offspring of Brits, and as such, Thanksgiving has not centered around a meal. This year Sarah will be surfing and practicing yoga in Nicaragua.

 “We don’t have a family in Houston, so every year I get to create a new family.”

My long-time business partner, Jane Howze, always plays golf on Thanksgiving morning no matter where she is, though she is careful to stay south of the Mason Dixon line. This year she will tee it up on the big Island of Hawaii as she also celebrates her 33rd wedding anniversary.

Bill Lepiesza of our San Diego office will be working up more sweat than Jane as he has a longstanding tradition of running one of the local 5k races each Thanksgiving morning. Bill comments “I’m starting a new tradition this year—trying to win the baby jogging stroller division. Wish me luck."

Jonathan Berube and Alison Finlay, our administrative services director, typically spend each Thanksgiving with extended family and friends in Tennessee. Alison will also have a joint birthday celebration for her and her niece Taylor Swift.

Some spend Thanksgiving as a time to give back. Victoria Abt in our San Francisco office will be serving Thanksgiving dinner to those less fortunate at Glide Memorial Church in the Tenderloin District.


Cindy Arzola and her family have Thanksgiving dinner each year at 6 p.m. sharp. This year’s menu as in every year includes menudo along with the traditional chicken, pork and cheese tamales. Beth Ehrgott in our New York office laughingly says “our family can’t have Thanksgiving without my grandmother’s cranberry/orange relish or homemade pumpkin pie with fresh rum whipped cream. I would give you the recipe but then I’d have to kill you.”

 This year’s menu as in every year includes menudo along with the traditional chicken, pork and cheese tamales. 

Food preparation is not Bob Callahan’s strong suit. Ever since he confused a garlic clove with a garlic bulb in a recipe, he has been asked to stay away from all food preparation activities. It is referred to “the 1999 incident.” He is typically assigned clean up duty.

Jamie Irvine is dreaming of fats, butter and salt. "We had a few lean years (literally) where various members of my mother's family went on health kicks. During that time we had turkeys so healthy that they were as small as a pigeon! My only must have for Thanksgiving is the biggest fattest Butterball turkey on the planet...the more unhealthy the least for one day."

Megan Dean in Houston apparently could not wait for Thanksgiving. "My must have dish is green bean casserole. In fact, I was craving it so much that I just whipped up a batch the other day!" Christi Conaway will be fighting for a piece of her mother's chocolate pie and Marchell Mascheck will be forgoing turkey altogether....several years ago, as her mother was about to carve the turkey, she realized that she had accidentally left a bag of giblets inside. She hasn't eaten turkey since.


It goes without saying that each of us is grateful for family and friends. Paula Lemons and Lori Weeks both marvel at the amazing young adults their children are becoming. Pam Kutner is thankful that her older daughter Jenny will have a paying job soon and that her younger daughter is majoring in a field with a 98 percent hire rate.

 We all have much to be thankful for this season. One employee waged and won a battle with breast cancer and in so doing, inspired us all. 

John Mann, managing director of sister company Alex & Red , is grateful for being in the best health and shape of his life having lost 30 pounds this year.

Jane Howze is grateful — “This year I will have been married for 33 years, just returned from my 40th college reunion, celebrated the 30th year of The Alexander Group and my husband's 75th birthday — lots of big numbers. Oh, and I'm about to turn 63 so I'm acutely aware of the passage of time. I've been blessed with friends and a family that I like as well as love. I've been blessed with a business that on most days fills me intellectually and emotionally with clients who are friends and friends who are clients. And a wonderful business partner and husband. And of course that old truism, when you have your health you have it all. I do and I have.”

We all have much to be thankful for this season. One employee waged and won a battle with breast cancer and in so doing, inspired us all. Last Thanksgiving, we mourned the loss of our beloved employee Robin Weiner. It has been a sad year for her family yet Robin would be so happy to see them healing and living a life that reflects her goodness and grace.

As managing director of The Alexander Group, an executive search firm with offices in Houston, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, London and Park City, John C. Lamar writes a periodic Road Warrior column for CultureMap.

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