Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.

My mother puts on quite a show in that kitchen. The guest of honor is always Tom Turkey with all the co-stars; stuffing, cranberries, sweet potato pie and lots of decadent desserts. The holiday has been a very important one for my family as well as a time for togetherness. People often lose sight of what’s important throughout the year and this is one way to bridge that gap.

On a personal note, and I usually tend to leave the anecdotes out of my news stories, but hey, it’s a special occasion. My grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer almost three years ago. He received the diagnosis on the same day I was promoted to morning drive anchor on our Townsquare Shore Stations. The doctors were not optimistic at all. In fact, it was highly unlikely he would be able to attend my wedding in March of 2010. However, thanks to several treatments and a lot of hope, he has pulled through and is doing quite well. Although not cured, the cancer has not spread. He was able to attend the wedding and will definitely be at the carving board this Thursday night, a task he’s handled with diligence ever since I can remember. I’m very thankful he will be joining us again.

It’s been a tradition for my out-of-town relatives to make Thanksgiving dinner and 2011 is no exception. The feast promises to be a lively one with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousin – everyone. My wife is making the stuffing this year and my brother always puts extra cherries and pineapples on that sweet potato creation. It got me thinking – what do you do for Thanksgiving?

I hit the street yesterday in Ocean County to find out what it is that people do. I was not surprised with the wide array of answers. Doing man-on-the-street interviews always leads me to meet colorful characters. I heard everything from those staying at home with the family to others opting to eat in a restaurant to avoid having the stress of the event. Is it stressful for me? Not at all. I don’t really do anything on Thanksgiving in terms of preparation for the meal. Just save up the appetite, watch the parade on TV and relax.

One woman told me “I love cooking for my family but I wish it would be easier to deal with the cleanup.” A man we spoke to told us his wife cooks a fantastic feast each year but his job is the dishes. He says “yeah, it maybe messy but that’s life. It’s a part of the holiday.”

AAA reports this year that thousands will make that last mad dash to a destination – either for a dinner or just a getaway. One woman tells us she’s fed up with turkey. She says “we eat the same stuff every year. I despise it. I have to smile and look happy or my mother gets all offended.” She asked us not to use her audio byte either for fear of retaliation.

Most people told me they plan to take advantage of Black Friday sales after finishing up dinner as several stores plan to open Thursday night instead of early Friday morning.

Whatever you do on Thanksgiving or during the extended holiday weekend be safe out there and have a wonderful time.