A Magpie Thanksgiving.

By: Jen Shoop

I spent this morning sifting through photos from Thanksgivings past, and I am awash with sentiment. Looking at my life through the clusters of photos I’ve taken this time of year over the course of the past decade reminded me how urgently I must take care to live where my feet are, as each year has presented such difference. Things lost, things gained: new cities, old homes, new babies, older parents. How different life looks plotted against a decade of late Novembers, how unbearably beautiful. As I wrote elsewhere, “What was unremarkable then turns out to be great now.” The flights home, the clutter and clatter of pans with all of my siblings bumping elbows over the stovetop, the early days of motherhood, when Thanksgiving felt a tad straining because, on top of the usual heavy responsibility of feeding the babies, putting them down for naps, changing their diapers, keeping them contained (or not), we were meant to dress everyone nicely and set the table and have a feast by four. All of it, every detail, now gilded with greatness.

This morning, my email subscribers received a special Thanksgiving edition digest, in which I shared my Thanksgiving menu, our favorite Thanksgiving recipes (several Shoop family favorites for decades and decades), a calendar in which I plotted out exactly when to shop for what and at what time to start cooking everything, a Thanksgiving playlist, a few shopping finds for the holiday (you can find some of them in my Amazon shop and this collection of finds), and, of course, The Prayer, which so many of you have adopted in your own family traditions. I’ve lost count of the number of Magpies who have written to say that this simple prayer has brought them, and their loved ones, to tears, as they break bread together, positively shocked by the good fortune of all we have. It cuts to the quick, doesn’t it? I’m sharing the prayer below, but you can also sign up here and receive the full “Magpie Thanksgiving” email, too.

And now, a walk down memory lane: snapshots and annotations from nine beautiful Thanksgivings. Proof positive that I want for nothing.

Mr. Magpie, Pre-Babies, 2014, at my parents’ house in Washington, D.C. These were the days (before children) when all of my siblings and significant others (some weren’t yet married!) would descend on my parents’ home for a big, everyone-cooking-in-the-kitchen melee. There was so much laughter and wine and warmth in that house.

Mr. Magpie and my beloved father-in-law, 2015, Arlington, VA. (Everyone, including friends and grandkids, calls him Doe.). Champagne in the basement (probably watching football) before Thanksgiving dinner. We used to sleep on the pull-out couch in the basement and I have the fondest memories of staying up late watching holiday movies and sneaking up for a midnight turkey sandwich.

Thanksgiving While Pregnant with Mini, 2016, Chicago. My in-laws flew in. My mom had purchased me this dress from a maternity shop on Michigan Ave in Chicago. She insisted I buy “one or two nice maternity dresses” and “a good winter maternity coat” and I felt so cared-for. May I also say that I look at this photo and notice my crooked teeth and remember how I rarely smiled for photographs for years and years because I was self-conscious of them. I’m so glad I took this photo of myself while pregnant, as I have few of them! — and am also so glad I finally got Invisalign so I could make space for more important things than worrying about my smile.

Thanksgiving with my baby, 2017, New York City. We’d just moved to the Big Apple and felt strained and alone. I wrote about the experience here, and how Mr. Magpie welled up with tears while reading the Thanksgiving prayer.

The Macy’s Parade, New York City, 2018. We lived on Central Park West at this time, and one of the absolute delights of living there was that they’d block off all of CPW to street traffic and it was even difficult to get there by foot — you had to show an ID that proved you lived on the block! We were able to trot downstairs and get a front-row view of the parade.

In the second photo: had to show off the way I used to dress my little dolly. The big bows! The embroidered dresses! The pom pom knee socks! Do it while you can, mama. Dressing her like this was one of the greatest joys!

Our second NYC apartment, 86th and Columbus, UWS, 2019, with my new baby. My in-laws drove up for the coziest holiday. Can you even deal with micro’s chunkiness?! The rubber band wrists! The thigh rolls! It’s so delicious. The photo of my FIL with micro is one of my most cherished. The good stuff.

Making the best of Thanksgiving during the pandemic — are the COVID beard and mask telltale enough? UWS, 2020. I still got everyone dressed up to the nines. I so clearly remember the walk we took through Central Park before Thanksgiving dinner, and how much I missed family this year.

Thanksgiving 2021, Bethesda, MD. Our new suburban home! We hosted a big crowd this year, and I took very few photos as a result. It felt full and busy and slightly frenetic but also joyful after several years of very quiet Thanksgivings.

Thanksgiving 2022, Bethesda, MD. We hit our stride this year with hosting Thanksgiving for a crowd. Such a happy day for me — funny enough, my major memory from this day was actually after dinner, after the children were in bed, enjoying the whole ‘fare la scarpetta’ with my husband, sister, and brother-in-law. We were sitting around the kitchen counter, blasting music, drinking wine, nibbling on leftovers, for hours.


+On viewing time as a gift.

+Something I won’t soon forget.

+So many golden moments in the photos above.

Shopping Break.


+Lots of great tabletop/home finds for the holiday here. Love this turkey platter (great price and reminds me of the turkey dish you can see in a few photos above that I bought years ago from W-S…you can still find on eBay), all Emile Henry bakeware (I cherish the few I own!), and these chic, well-priced cloth napkins.

+If you have a cheeky fam, these “superlative” placecards would be hilarious. I’ve used some of the superlative cards from this boutique at a dinner party I hosted last year and it was SO fun.

+I reference this in my menu/notes, but we use this Aldo Sohm book and this one to help with wine selection all the time. They both provide great ideas on what to drink with what you’re eating, including what to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. (The TL;DR — for red: gamay, pinot noir, zin; for white: gewurtzraminer, gruner veltliner).

+ICYMI: what to wear on Thanksgiving.

+Every year, I give my children Christmas pajamas to change into after Thanksgiving dinner. I love the ones from Lake and Petite Plume each year, but this year, I’m also loving these nutcracker ones from Sal e Pimenta (and matching nightie for your little Clara).

+I’ll be sharing Thanksgiving outfit ideas for littles in an upcoming post, but this smocked cotton dress is a great choice for those of us with girls who resist anything starchy. This is a perfect cardigan for the occasion, and how fetching is this vintage-inspired dress? Giving SEA vibes for a fraction of the price.

+For post-dinner lounge: this Lake set (yep, still talking about this) or these Lululemon flares with a big ol sweatshirt from your husband.

+Good sources for Thanksgiving table linens: Christina Dickson (20% off with code MAGPIE20 — especially love these and this), Julia Amory (drawn to this brown stripe), Mrs. Alice, and Maison D’Hermine on Amazon.

+Does anyone do a formal Thanksgiving? (How fab…?). I’d wear this. Actually eyeing this for some holiday festivities — or NYE! VB’s entire new arrivals section has so many fabulous festive pieces in it. Digging these metallic straight-legs? With a black heel or ballet flat and interesting sweater? And I can’t stop thinking about this coat.

+Speaking of formal wear: one day, I’d like to arrive upon a reason for Mr. Magpie to wear a white dinner jacket. Just so handsome.

+As we head into holiday season, I’m already excited about hosting a second retro cocktail party while watching Kasey Musgraves’ campy holiday special. We did this last year and we all showed up with bells on, decked out in fab clothes (my brother in law wore a cashmere turtleneck tucked into dress pants — so good). We drank espresso martinis, ate swedish meatball on toothpicks, and then kicked off our shoes, moved the living room furniture, and had a long Taylor Swift dance party. As you will. (Do we think the Eras experience will be streaming by then?)

+Also for fall/winter festivities: treat yourself to some glitzy earrings! Dorsey is sending me these. I can’t wait to wear all holiday season.

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14 thoughts on “A Magpie Thanksgiving.

  1. Love this all! I’m practicing all restraint from purchasing a Sharland-England splatter Verona vase in tan and cream for my Thanksgiving tablescape.

  2. Omg, my mom also bought me that same maternity dress that year! (my daughter was born in May 2017) “You MUST have a few nice maternity outfits, honey.” How lucky we are to have such caring mothers.

    1. Oh my gosh! That is so cute! What are the odds we’d have had the same dresses from our moms?! We are so lucky 🙂


  3. I loved your walk down memory lane! Thanks for sharing those snapshots. It inspired me to do one of my own. I’ve hosted Thanksgiving every year (except one!) since 2010 when I bought this house. Even in 2020 we had my parents over. Usually we host anywhere from 15-20+ people in our modest little ranch! We’ve had to get creative, ha! This year is stressing me out more than usual, as we are in the midst of a slow moving update of our basement, where most guests spend Thanksgiving day. The carpet installation isn’t scheduled until the week prior to the big day! I’m sure we’ll have time to get everything set back up but still wish it were sooner. And then mildly freaking out about the spills that *will* happen on the brand new carpet. Oh well. We knew what we were getting into!

    1. Ahh! I totally understand the “crunch” feeling you’re describing. We’ve been through similar, with big pieces of furniture arriving just days before house guests were coming, etc. It always makes me stressed when there are extra moving parts to an already frenetic/busy time, and I just want everything finished! This is a situation where Mr. Magpie will remind me “…or what?” Like, if the chairs don’t arrive, so what? We’ll improvise a solution. Or if everything isn’t situated in the living room, we’ll just…hang in the kitchen. I have a hard time stepping out of my vision for things and remembering “oh yeah. That’s not such a big deal after all.” But it never is!

      Anyway, just saying I totally get the stress! And also know it will all work out!!


  4. I love the way you do holidays!! Our Thanksgiving is the Saturday after, since we’re expats and no one has the day off, and then the next day is for putting up the tree at my MIL’s! My little family waits until mid December because the fresh trees here don’t come tree-stand ready, they’re just glued into a stump you can’t water, but I love the idea of breaking out the Christmas jammies immediately. My personal favorite Thanksgiving tradition is breakfast the next morning: I make crispy pan-fried stuffing in the cast iron, and we have it with hot gravy and a side of cranberry relish. We also have what we call « little Thanksgiving » on the actual day, just my husband and kids…crispy roast chicken thighs, gravy, and mashed rutabaga, with apple crisp for dessert. There are very few Americans over here, so I’d love to once our kids are school aged host a massive event for our friends to experience. My MIL used to do that and she’d regularly make 2 turkeys!

    We got the Dorsey Asscher cut earrings for my MIL this year, and I cannot WAIT to see her face when she opens them on Christmas.

    1. Love your traditions, Kelly – thank you so much for sharing! The breakfast of pan-fried stuffing sounds divine…! I love a savory breakfast like that. (It’s actually Mr. Magpie’s preference in general – he often says he wishes he could have pho every morning.)

      Also, yay for Christmas jammies on Thanksgiving! I don’t know why but it just brings so much hygge/joy to the end of the day for me.

      LOVE the gift for your MIL!!! Those are gorgeous and she’s going to flip!!


  5. Brava! This pics of baby mini inspire me to doll up my little this year. Will be subscribing to the newsletter for these recs!!

  6. What a special walk down memory lane! Can you remind me the brand (+ style if you have it) or your dress from 2020? I know you’ve shared it before but I’m having trouble remembering. Thank you!

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