This story first appeared in 2008 and was replayed in 2015. Another seven years have passed, so it’s time to resurrect it from the archives. It’s about a special moment between a man and his Pentax K20D.

©Jon Sienkiewicz

[Written in 2015] Thanksgiving is that magical time that happens only once a year. Thank heavens. It’s a time for peace and love and opening our hearts and homes to relatives we normally don’t bother with. It’s the season for vapid overindulgence—stuffing ourselves with turkey (bird meat that’s usually reserved for Club sandwiches, frozen weight watcher entrees and an occasional tasteless, low-fat burger). Football—lots of football—and couch naps are the order of the day, while the exotic foods that are eaten only at this time of the year (marshmallow-encrusted yams, slippery cranberries and that dried-up bread stuff—what is it? Dressing?) vie for domination of our glutted stomachs.

©Jon Sienkiewicz

Thanksgiving break is the first scheduled disruption of the academic calendar, the first back-to-the-neighborhood holiday for faraway college students, some of whom travel dozens of miles to rejoin their families for four days of feasting, revelation of newly acquired tattoos and binge watching Netflix. And yes, shopping. Turkey Day also marks the last day of sanity before the full-blown holiday shopping season ensues. The day after, lovingly known as Black Friday, is the traditional start of retail mayhem.

It’s all crazy, that’s for sure, but we all love it—we must, because we repeat it every year.

©Jon Sienkiewicz

My tradition is making pictures. Roll the clocks back seven years and you’ll find my blog post from Thanksgiving 2008 [as written in 2015]. To save you time chasing the link, I’ve rewritten all 224 words below.

[Written in 2008] On Thanksgiving morning I left home before eight and drove my Jeep 20 miles to photograph a farm I’ve been shooting for the past 15 years. Sometimes it’s hard to keep a relationship fresh and exciting for such a long period of time, but like an exciting woman, this subject reveals something new to me every time we meet.

It was 34 degrees when I left home, but at the higher elevation in New Jersey’s Ramapo Mountains, the mercury hovered at 31, just cold enough for the hoar frost to still be thick and brilliant. Clouds hid the sun and I waited until their feeble rays broke through just enough to highlight the brittle, frozen leaves.

©Jon Sienkiewicz

I worked for over an hour, I guess—I lost track of time the second arrived. I moved quickly, knowing that the sun would soon be strong enough to banish the frost sculptures. In every direction I discovered something new—a bristling red berry, a leaf silver-tipped with rime, green grass dusted with frost. When I finished my bare fingers were numb and my feet were like ice. But I felt wonderful.

And I felt so lucky to be able to enjoy the moment. We all have so much to be thankful for. I’m blessed in that I don’t have to look far to see my true fortune.

©Jon Sienkiewicz

[Added in 2015] Seven years later I have a point of view that’s only slightly different. We live in an enlightened age when our children are no longer taught that Native Americans provided a sumptuous feast for the first generation of trespassing Pilgrims and welcomed them into their wigwams. Middle school students already know more about computers, telephony and social media than their parents have enough time left to learn. Although the world changes faster than we can imagine, some things—like the Thanksgiving holiday—remain the same. Embrace change but make tradition your servant.

©Jon Sienkiewicz

[Now in 2022] It seems like only yesterday, but 14 years have passed since I originally wrote this story. Holidays like Thanksgiving are anchor points on our individual roads of life. Photography helps us connect the dots and turn the threads of memories into a lush fabric. I’d love to promise to bring this back seven years from now. We’ll see. The photographs will endure, however, and that’s enough to satisfy me


—Jon Sienkiewicz