Tom Hanks

My Thanksgiving tradition: Tom Hanks and turkey. What's yours?

Nov. 21, 2011 at 10:07 AM ET

Libbie Hayward /
The Hanksgiving 2011 invitation. Can you name all the references?

I celebrated Hanksiving this weekend. (And no, I didn't just make an unfortunate typo.)

Every year on the Saturday before turkey day my friends hold a celebration of all things Tom Hanks and Thanksgiving. We've dubbed the tradition "Hanksgiving."

It was a feast: We piled our plates with Craving Private Fryin' Turkey, Catch Me If You Yams, The Green Bean Mile and Cauli Wilson's War. We sipped Apollo Thirtini and Sleepless in Se-Apple Cider. And we finished it off with a generous helping of Forrest Pump-kin Cake.

It was a festival: We cheered when astronaut Jim Lovell landed safely back on Earth at the end of "Apollo 13"; we danced on our very own floor keyboard, recreating the iconic "Big" scene; and we sang along to the catchy "That Thing You Do" theme (I should probably apologize to my friends' neighbors at this point). Decorations included “Toy Story” green army men and the mermaid from “Splash” in the bathroom, which had been renamed for the night as The Da Vinci Commode.

And it even became an (admittedly small) Twitter meme that caught the attention of Tom Hanks' son and fellow actor, Colin.

Twitter /

Preparations began in earnest weeks before the big day. Everyone was in charge of either bringing a drink or a dish (they trusted me with the fiery sweet potatoes). But it was up to the Hanksgiving hosts to figure out the fowl.

"Last year we got a fried turkey since we had never tried it, and it was a big hit," said Max Dubin, one of the organizers. One of the two turkeys this year was fried, but Max said he wanted to go bigger this year with an "even more exciting and unconventional turkey" for the second bird. "We came up with a Peking turkey with the buns and toppings."

TODAY.com /
Turkey leftovers from Hanksgiving.

It was delicious (see the scraps on the right – we really devoured it). And it was something few of us could pull off on Thanksgiving proper, where traditional family dishes rule the night.

We know we're not the only ones celebrating a form of Hanksgiving.

There's a Twitter group trying to make July 9th, Tom's birthday, as the official day to "give thanks for the Hanks!" And the Fox comedy "The New Girl" co-opted our holiday’s name after Zooey Deschanel's character dubbed her turkey "Hank." What an insult to Tom, we say.

Why do we do this? It's a bit unclear. None of us would classify as Tom Hanks fanboys. We aren't following in the footsteps of Trekkies (Hankies?), Beliebers (Tomollowers?) or Twi-Hards (eh ... this is a family blog). I’d say it’s one last excuse to party with friends before a week of family. But Libbie Hayward, one of the organizers who dressed up as Wilson from “Cast Away” – red face paint and all – said it's a chance to honor "a wholesome American icon right as the holidays are gearing up."

Whatever the reason, we celebrate it and love it.

Every family has their own Thanksgiving traditions. Some hold family basketball tournaments. Others watch the Macy's Parade. My coworker Ian Sager's family eats piles of bacon as a pre-turkey morning warm-up (I now want to be adopted by his parents).

Tell us about your family's traditions in the comments below.

And who knows what's next? Max said he was kicking around a few more ideas. Watch out, world: Colum-Busta Rhymes Day and Michelle Kwan-za could be the next big things.

Steve Veres is an editor for TODAY.com. His Catch Me If You Yams turned out way sweeter than he planned despite following the family recipe line by line. Read more about Hanksgiving and find the full menu on Serious Eats

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