Thanksgiving 2017 | Denver Portrait Photography

We’re not the most traditional family out there. We have our traditions but, for the most part, we like to mix things up. For Thanksgiving, we have a new theme each year for the meal. There’s usually a few new people at the dinner table. Some years, we don’t even eat turkey. So every year is different from the last. There are a few things, however, that we just cannot have Thanksgiving without.

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Themes. As I mentioned, there’s always a theme to our Thanksgiving meals. Some years, it was different countries or cuisines. Last year, we started a new tradition of picking a name out of a hat and that person has a year to decide on the theme. We started with the co-host, my uncle. He chose a 1950s cookbook as the theme. Everyone had to make a dish from the cookbook or a variation of it. This year, it’s my aunt’s turn and her theme is foraged ingredients. Each dish has to feature one ingredient that can be foraged from the area.

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Music. There is always music at my aunt and uncles house. There’s always a Pandora station playing in the background and a guitar lying around for my brother, Josh, to play. In the last few years, we started having family sing-alongs, which are insanely embarrassing and so much fun.

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Mushroom goo. Mushroom goo is my uncle, Alex’s, invention. It’s a combination of mushrooms, onions, and cream and it’s usually stuffed into more mushroom caps and topped with parmesan. It’s the most amazing thing ever had and I look forward to it every year. Last year, we put it in homemade ravioli inspired by the 1950’s cookbook.

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Buckeyes. From probably the first Thanksgiving I can remember, my aunt Robbie and I made Buckeyes together. Buckeyes are an Ohio treat consisting of peanut butter balls partly covered in chocolate. My dad and uncle are from Ohio and they are and huge Ohio State fans. The mascot is the Buckeye, which inspired the dessert. These days, my little cousin Ava helps us make them and we use the leftover chocolate to make bark with whatever we can find in it.

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Each other. It wouldn’t be a cheesy Thanksgiving post if I didn’t gush about my awesome family. While our table is open to many people who come and go, our family is always together on Thanksgiving. I am so grateful for that.

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Let’s get to know each other! Send me an email at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

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Thanksgiving 2016 | Denver Portrait Photographer

I was just talking to a friend about the stress of traveling for the holidays and I started to realize that despite all the stress, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanksgiving is by far my favorite family holiday. We have solid traditions that I love. Our family grows and shrinks and changes every year, but it is always a group I feel so comfortable with and loved by.

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There is a Passover tradition where families are supposed to invite strangers in to share their meal with. We never did that at our Passover Seders but I feel like we make up for it with Thanksgiving. In addition to my family, there are always a few friends and neighbors who join our table, along with some regular honorary family members who join us each year.

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One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is the themed meals. Thanksgiving in our family is at my aunt and uncle’s house. My uncle is an amazing chef and my aunt is an outstanding baker and they love to get creative. Each year, Thanksgiving dinner has a new theme. Sometimes, it’s a country. One year, the theme was ravioli! We made all different kinds of ravioli and sauces to mix and match.

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Last year, Thanksgiving was a few weeks after my grandma passed away. So our theme was Nana’s takes on Thanksgiving classics. Nana was known in our family for having some weird recipes. She loved collecting them from friends and writing them down for her recipe box. She brought us my favorite cheesecake in the world but also the purple chicken, which did not get such great reviews. Whether the dish was amazing or awful, it always sparked conversation, so we wanted to honor all of it. Well, we were sort of a mess this year so the theme fell apart and became deconstructed Thanksgiving classics, with little bits of Nana’s memory here and there.

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denver-portraits, denver-documentary-photographer, colorado-portrait-photographer

denver-portraits, denver-documentary-photographer, colorado-portrait-photographer

denver-portraits, denver-documentary-photographer, colorado-portrait-photographer

denver-portraits, denver-documentary-photographer, colorado-portrait-photographer

Let’s get to know each other! Send me an email at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

The Balan’s Thanksgiving | Chicago Family Photographer

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The time my family spends together and our ever-evolving traditions are so important to me, especially now that I live far away from my hometown. Thanksgiving is by far my favorite family holiday. We always have it at my aunt and uncle’s house. We spend two days prepping and cooking. Everyone pitches in to cook and bake and clean. We all cram into the kitchen, trying not to step on the dog or cat. For dinner, we invite friends over from near and far, we eat, drink, and talk (mostly about inappropriate things). After dessert, we belt out old songs and watch terrible movies. It’s chaos, it’s crazy, it’s perfect, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Because these memories are so important to us, I wanted to make sure they were preserved. So, since I’m a family photographer, I photographed my own family during one of my favorite holidays.

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Every day is a story. I would love to help you share yours and document all of life’s big moments. Find out more about Storytelling sessions and tell me about your adventure at jamie@jamiekraus.com

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What I’m Grateful For | Chicago Family Photographer

Every Thanksgiving, my family writes down what we’re grateful for in our little Thanksgiving journal. This year, I thought I’d make my page a little more public and share what I’m grateful for on my blog. I’m writing about 5 things I’m grateful for this year, in no particular order and sharing photos from last year’s Thanksgiving.

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My Privilege: Over the past few years, I’ve learned what privilege really means, and along the way, I’ve realized just how much of it I have. While it is very important to be aware of the privilege you have and use it to help those without, I think it’s also important to be grateful for it. I owe so much of my success and ease of life to my many privileges, and for that, I am grateful.

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Facebook: What a cliche millennial thing to be grateful for, right? Let me explain. Facebook has not only allowed me to keep in touch with friends and family that I moved far away from, it helps me stay up to date with current events, have intellectual discussions, and broaden my worldview, it has been a key networking tool as I become a small business owner in a new place, and it has provided me with a support group as I continue my journey into adulthood. Facebook has gotten me gigs and jobs, it has helped my business grow and it has helped me grow with it.

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My Boyfriend: Mike and I have been together for 4 years, but this past year has been a true test. It’s the first year we’ve officially lived together, had to figure out finances together, been away from our friends and family together, and the first year of my business. He has been incredibly supportive of it all. And despite my lack of kitchen cleaning, living together has been pretty amazing.

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My Family: It’s not easy to find a family that will be supportive of two freelance artists from across the country, but my brother and I just ended up with one. Our parents, and the rest of our family, have always encouraged us to pursue our dreams, rather than a paycheck. But they also taught us how to be smart about it, so that we wouldn’t have to live in their basement. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that! If I lived in Chicago, that’s probably where I’d be.)

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My Brother: My brother has always been a bit of a nomad. When we go to coffee shops together to have a work day, he can’t stay in the same place for more than a couple hours. I’m not sure he’s lived anywhere for more than a year post-college. Being this far away from home isn’t easy, and I’m so glad that I have him nearby, at least for now.

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What are you grateful for? Tell me below, in the comments!

Every day is a story. I would love to help you share yours and document all of life’s little moments. Find out more about Storytelling sessions and tell me your story at jamie@jamiekraus.com