Meet the woman named for the holiday: Dr. Happy Thanksgiving

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By Scott Stump

On Thursday, the family of a Minnesota woman will be wishing a happy birthday to Happy Thanksgiving.

That's Dr. Happy Thanksgiving Reynolds of Minneapolis, to be precise, who will be celebrating her 43rd birthday on Thanksgiving, the holiday that inspired her colorful name. 

“It's exactly like every other time of the year for me, surprisingly,’’ Reynolds told “It winds up being something of an afterthought, so shockingly it's never that crazy around this time. As much as I'm sure there should be giant floats and sparklers and perhaps a juggler, no, it's pretty normal on my birthday.”

Her parents, Thora and Kelly Reynolds, were part of the counterculture in the 1960s and chose her unorthodox name when she was born on Thanksgiving. She noted that she narrowly missed out on being named Snow because it also snowed on the day of her birth.

“Yes, we were hippies,’’ Reynolds told “We made our own tofu, our own goat cheese, our own sauerkraut. My parents founded a co-op. They were into it.”

Reynolds got used to people’s reactions to her name while attending 13 different schools during a childhood spent in Minnesota and California.

“We were already ostracized because we were hippies in a small town, so it was one more layer of reasoning to be like, 'You people are weird,’’’ she said. “To be totally frank, I think people were like, 'Dude, there's so much there that we could make fun of, that there's just no point. It's almost cruel to make fun of Happy.’

“We were very transient. It was the '70s, so everyone had a different attitude. A lot of times we were moving with other families, so it was like this weird troupe of freaks, and people were just like 'whatever,' when they heard my name.”

Today Reynolds works as a physician in Minneapolis. She said her name has not caused any issues professionally. If anything, it’s helped.

“I work in family medicine and deal with a lot of kids, so I think it almost sets people at ease, and I am super comfortable with where I come from,’’ she said. “I think patients are like, 'Your name is Happy Thanksgiving, so clearly whatever I tell you in this office visit is not going to be that crazy for you.’

“For me, it's always been super positive. I've had a pretty circuitous path in what I've done. If anything, people have often remembered me because of the name, and that's never bad. I'm on an advisory board for my ward and we are trying to get funding to help more children, so it's never bad to have a name like Happy Thanksgiving to help get noticed and get the word out there.”

Plus, there’s also the fun moment when she has to show ID for any reason.

“The biggest thing I get when I show my ID is, ‘When is your birthday?’’’ she said. “And I’m just like, ‘It’s in the name, but whatevs.’’’

Reynolds has one sibling, a younger brother named Josh. 

“My parents were over that phase by the time he was born,’’ she said with a laugh. “What are you going to do?”