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November 25th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Thanksgiving at the McGraws

turkeyI, for one, love calling a timeout in November so that I can not only reflect on my many blessings but also say my thank-yous. It is a very relaxed family day at the McGraws that starts around noon as people begin to arrive.

I always get up early on Thanksgiving Day and head off to play tennis. I figure I’ll get in a good work out so I can pig out without feeling too bad about it! By the time I get home, Robin has the house buzzing! She always has the house fully decorated for Christmas by Thanksgiving Day, and she will have Christmas music playing inside and out. Every television in the house will be tuned to a football game (one of my long-standing traditions). Football and Christmas music: Who could ask for more?

Robin is a superb cook who starts preparing the meal three days before Thanksgiving. I love the way the house smells when she fires up the ovens and starts getting ready. We have a pretty traditional menu with a few southern touches. I love the dressing and giblet gravy! Besides our own family we are usually joined by friends who don’t have family nearby. Can’t have our friends hanging out alone! But if you come to our house, you have to participate in a McGraw Thanksgiving tradition. We go around the table, and everyone shares about what has happened in the last year that he or she is most thankful for.

It is just kind of a ritual, and I think rituals are important especially for the kids growing up. Kids appreciate that sameness over the years, even if they don’t admit it early on. In fact, our boys are always saying, “Oh jeez, here we go!” They roll their eyes and start looking for the door! But they do it and don’t really resist much. They just like giving me some good-natured grief. They talk about their blessings. Despite the eye rolling, I can tell they’ve put some thought into what they say. Deep down, I have a feeling that this is a tradition they’ll carry on for years with their own families. And that makes me feel very proud.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ll say this Thanksgiving, and I won’t know until I say it, but as I write this I’m thinking that I’m thankful that everyone in my family has found something that they are passionate about — I think it’s so important to find something in your life to be excited and passionate about every day of your life. Whether it’s your kids, a hobby, your job, your spiritual life or even your front lawn, we are all blessed if we love our lives. So I will tell Jay that I’m so eternally thankful that he and Erica are so passionate about their baby who is on the way and that he loves his career in television production. I will tell Jordan that I’m thankful he’s about to finish college at USC and is totally devoted to pursuing his career in music. I will tell Robin how thankful I am to have the opportunity to watch her excitement about becoming a grandmother, and how proud I am about the new book she’s written and about her volunteer work with underprivileged children.

turkey2As for me, I continue to be thankful for the Dr. Phil show and the opportunity to impact people’s lives, and for The Dr. Phil Foundation and the work it’s doing. And like Robin, I’m over the moon about our grandbaby on the way; I can barely see straight! Most of all, I’m thankful that I‘ve gotten the chance to see my boys’ lives unfold — to watch them become the excellent young men they have become.

On Thursday, we will eat, watch football and listen to Christmas music, and maybe one or two us will take a little nap (not ME, of course) — and just like last year and the year before we will be together. Thank God, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wishing each of you and your family peace and continued blessings throughout the year. I would love to hear how you will celebrate.

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73 Responses to “Thanksgiving at the McGraws”

  1. Russell Vlaanderen. says:

    Doctor Phil. Happy Thanksgiving Weekend aswell. Tell everyone hi for me. Sincerl-
    ey Your. Russell Vlaanderen.

  2. MaggieLou says:

    I thank God for good folks like you who continue to hold up the standard. I thank God that in spite of whatever pressures, you hold together and stay strong. I thank God that in spite of being at present in the most difficult time of my life, I know my faith in Him will carry me through, not only to overcome, but to make this very situation a stepping stone to a brighter future.

  3. Lorraine Ryan says:

    Dr. Phil and Robin,
    I know that you must have had an amazing Thanksgiving. This year I am thankful for some things in my own life. I’m thankful that I have a loving husband who loves me enough to want to try again for a family of our own. I am thankful for wonderful relationships with my brothers and their wives and children. I am thankful that I have my health and a place to live. I am thankful that as a teacher I have a good job that provides for us. I am thankful for wonderful friends from church, work, karaoke, old friends from childhood and new ones as well. God has really been good to me over the years. I hope this season of thanks and giving finds you and your family happy and healthy. I wish you many blessings for a wonderful year as you anticipate the newest addition to the McGraw family.

  4. Rita Marquez says:

    Dr. Phil and Robin,

    I was so touched reading about your feelings about becoming grandparents. Our little granddaughter, Abby, was the “New Year’s” baby in our city this year. Nothing can prepare you for this amazing journey. She is such a blessing to my husband and me. I would love to see some shows about grand-parenting, Dr. Phil.

    I want to wish you and your beautiful family a blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

    Rita J. Marquez

  5. Patty says:

    I have a high-funtioning boy with Asperger’s who seems to be highly in tune with God. We served at our church’s ministry function on Thanksgiving where they brought in families from shelters and we sat down with them and ate and talked. I love that he walked away from it saying that he was glad we cooked dinner for people with even less money that we had. Then when seeing the various Christmas lights up he tells me after being quiet for a bit, if everyone could see God’s glory then the world would be a better place. I am so thankful for this blessing of a child despite the challenges of every day life with him.

  6. MaryJo S. says:

    Thank you for sharing your traditions with us. This year was the 9th year since our daughter passed away from cancer. She passed away the Monday before Thanksgiving on November 20, 2000 at the age of 19. Our family invited family and friends this year so our house was bustling with laughter and food…an over abundance of food…and in the middle of our table with the turkey her pink candle was lit during our meal. She loved Thanksgiving so every year we have a large celebration and we are thankful beyond measure for the 19 years God allowed her to be a part of our lives. She was a true blessing and a young woman of God and although we miss her we celebrate her life and know the importance of family and friends just as you talk about each and every show. Thank you and God Bless you and your family…Congratulations on your ‘grandbaby’!

  7. Susie M says:

    Hope you had a great holiday, love your show, i surely get alot of advice from it, i learn alot

  8. Susie M says:

    hope you had a great Thanksgiving, i love your show, i watch it everyday, i surely get alot of from you and i learn alot.
    Take Care

  9. newtonna says:

    i am so glad you an yours gad a wonderful thanksgiving . i just wanna say beside every good man stands a good woman love to you an robin god bless

  10. Ann Gilmartin says:

    Dear Dr Phil & Robin, I am writing to you from England, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but having just read your blog I would like to say that I am thankful for this wonderful life. I celebrated my 50th birthday yesterday, surrounded by family and friends, had a brilliant party, felt fabulous and felt truly loved. I am most thankful for the people in my life, especially my two sons Craig & JJ, my kind hearted friends gave charity donations instead of presents so two local charities will benefit from their generosity. Today I saw a beautiful rainbow, a beautiful end to a perfect weekend.
    Love the show, best wishes, Ann

  11. Hi Dr. Phil,
    Our house is also a buzz on Thanksgiving and usually Christmas. My sister and her husband usually spend the week with my parents. I arrive and start by making a pumpkin pie that has tofu in it (sshhh don’t tell my dad) and mom and I do the kitchen dance. She is busy making turkey, ham, salad, gravy, special ham sauce, bread, and mashed potatoes. She also makes cinnamon rolls that melt in your mouth. On Thanksgiving Day my brother and his wife come up (they are also expecting the little one will be here in March). Our major tradition on Christmas or Thanksgiving is we always go for a walk afterwards. Most of us go and it is usually a good time (until we hit the hills)

  12. Sally says:

    Thanksgiving is also a very relaxing family day for us. We try to invite friends over who have few family members around too! This year everyone brought something. That worked out great because I was not in the kitchen all day! We had 20+ people here. So many blessings to be thankful for!!!!

  13. Linda says:

    I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I was wondering if Jay and Erica have thought of any names for the baby yet. What do they think about Phoebe?

  14. Holly Chartier says:

    Dear Dr. Phil, thank you for your generous spirit, which I guess you got from your parents. My Thanksgiving was wonderful as it always is with my family around. It is also a bittersweet time for me, as my Mom died during Thanksgiving week in 1985. I miss her, especially now that I have grown kids of my own, but I am able to give thanks for the gift that she was to me and my brother. Although my kids didn’t get to know her very well, I make sure that they know all about her. I just hope my kids feel the same way about me when I’m gone!
    Have a wonderful holiday season, and Merry Christmas!

  15. Giulia says:

    Hi Dr Phil,this was my 2nd thanksgiving in the States and it was my 1st with our newest addition to the family,Vittoria,who is 8 months.
    I’m very thankfull to the family I have,this holiday will be even more important this year for us,because my husband is leaving for Korea for 5 months since he is in the air force.
    This is the 1st time to be so long without him so it is going to be wired and hard for the kids,but we will get throu it.
    Have nice holidays with your family!

  16. jessica madonia says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    I enjoyed reading about how you spent your Thanksgiving with your family. This year has been extremely hard for my family. Our youngest son, who just turned 3, has been hospitalized 6 times throughout the year. He has spent quite a bit of time at Phoenix Children’s Hospital as the doctors were trying to figure out why he wasn’t thriving. Today he has a feeding tube and is doing great. Through an international prayer chain, his name has been lifted up in prayer over 1.5 million times! That is why he is doing so well today. We have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. It’s amazing he survived after everything he has gone through. This Thanksgiving was extra special because he was actually able to eat some dinner with us!

    Thank you for sharing your holiday traditions with us. God Bless!

  17. trubywray says:

    I am thankful for your example of true love in your marriage and I love the respect you have for each other and are not afraid to show the public. We need more true love marriages in our world today especially in the television world for all to see.

  18. Peggy Lucky-Grammer says:

    Dr. Phil,
    I am the Mother of three and grandmother to 6 plus 1 great-nephew that is like my grandchild.
    First comment is for you. I love gramps or Poppie for a grandfather.

    Second, about your family in need; Alex needs to except the fact that she has had two pregnancy’s with a young boys that did not know, any more than she did about being a parent. The fact that her son’s father is still in school and working to make something of his life shows his parent has, maybe, instilled in him to go forward and not let this bad judgement on his part and Alex not hold him back.
    It sound like Alex had the same opportunity. She need serious counseling and therapy to help with her not blaming others for the mistakes she has made and not looking at Mother, sister, husband or others to vent her anger. If she really wants to keep her children and get away from family the best way would be get the education or trading for a good job. By the way, what type of work is she doing and for how long? She needs to realize no man will put up with her jumping from one man’s bed to another.

    What will she tell her children when they start pointing her mistakes and what she has said and done. Believe me, she will have to face it one day unless she gets help now.

    What has happen to Erin and Marty? They don’t seem to be on the same page with this issue or the one with Katherine. It seems as if Erin is having to carry the ball for both girls. I do feel, Erin is trying to not make the same ones that she feels her Mother made; but, Erin has some issues that she needs to see a therapist to help her learn how to be a Mother.

    I know because I have spend off and on twenty years in group and single counseling and therapy.



  19. LindaRH says:

    Just checking in here after all my guests left. In addition to my kids and grandkids, we had out of state family come for a couple of days.
    I had to laugh at your saying that you have all the TV’s in the house tuned to football. This reminded me of my oldest and dearest friend’s father, who I’m thankful to have known. He, too, would have every TV in the house tuned to a game. He would wander from room to room yelling at one team or another.
    As teenagers, we would roll our eyes and make jokes about it.
    I’m glad your family was there to celebrate your traditions another year. These seemingly little things are the glue that keeps us together.
    God bless you and yours Dr Phil.

  20. Brenda Rutledge says:

    Well Dr. Phil, this was the first year both my girls actually ‘had’ to come home for Christmas – as the oldest one (Samantha) is permanently located in Plano, TX now since graduating from the University of Texas @ Dallas; and the younger one (Christina) is a sophmore at the Univerity of North Texas in Denton. I was so excited getting the house and meal prepared for everyone that was coming over, but I was over the moon with excitment to see the girls, whom I had not seen in over 3 months!! My oldest daughter also brought her new puppy, Levi. He is 3 months old and so much fun. I forgot how much work a puppy was, but it was so joyful as well. One tradition the girls and I had when they lived at home was to snuggle down on Friday night with hot chocolate and leftovers and watch ‘Little Women’ with Wynona Ryder. I’ve never felt so blessed as I did this past Friday, watching TV with them and thanking God for the wonderful family He blessed me with.

    Thanks for letting me share,
    Brenda Rutledge, San Antonio, Texas

  21. Rev. Mom says:

    Ok– I’m plugging into this a little late– because I finally broke down and signed up for Twitter. Dr. Phil — I LOVED your thoughts on Thanksgiving. This was a different day for our family– my husband and I are both pastors– I am an interim pastor and travel to different churches where there is conflict and contract with those churches for 12 months to help straighten them out– do visioning, do goal setting etc. So, my husband and I were separated this year because we are living in different states. I had various invites from parishioners and of course accepted them. Roy volunteered and served Thanksgiving Dinner at a Mission this year.
    We too are so thankful to see our son’s life accomplishments which includes his recent marriage to his beautiful wife Jessica.
    God bless you Dr. Phil in the work you do and how you help turn peoples lives around.

  22. marie stassin says:

    Dr. Phil, I also have 2 sons, brad and russ. we will celebrate thanksgiving together but alone this year. divorced from an abusive man for almost 10 years now we are better off from a broken home than in one, as you always say.I even named our new home serenity. We are very thankful for peace and harmoney, even if we are alone cause the divorce left us friendless as people did not believe he was abusive.they only saw the public face not the private face behind closed doors. but I also keep tradition alive cooking all day, a beautifull tree, etc. dispite being disabled and broke we are very rich to have each other. I wake up every morning excited by my desire to be an artist one day with my paintings. i strive to get better to have a more comfortable life for me and them. you have said if you don’t wake up everyday excited about what you do there is something missing in your life. you are so right, I used to paint when the boys were napping and my ex-husband would tare my art up. he was holding me back. there is no better feeling than freedom from abuse. we will survive. my youngest has tourette’s bless his heart. thank you for letting me share this with you. i hope you really got to read it. thank you for sharing your family with us. ilove your show. dr.Marie just kidding marie sb

  23. Rosalind Carroll says:

    I dont think you will see a change in this family until you get them off the air The youngest one never seem to have a problem but becaz her sister now has become a seleb becaz of this show even tho it is bad for them this makes things worse(airing them on the show all the time). I think its time to leave them alone now and let them deal with what they are doing. it goes to show things have gotten worse not better and that says it all to me. The little babies are the ones I feel for In any other situation these children would be taken from an unfit mother and put with a family who can look after them. You can lead a horse to water but you cant force him to drink and clearly this one does not want to drink. This mess started with the Mother and the Father they were poor gaurdians of these children. When a parent doesnt have ears and just a mouth you know what you are dealing with. I see it everyday. I believe in that home the girls were not allow to be heard but Erin seems to be deaf and only thinks what her thoughts are are the right ones if anyone else differs then they are wrong growing up in this gives us just what you see on TV. She knows she hasnt come clean completely Erin just wants us to see her after know that the damage has been done with girls she screams WHATS GOING ON HERE. Both Mother and Father did not hear their children. The way to teach your children to lie is punishing them when they make a mistake. Children will tell a lie rather than get punished. Listen to what they have to tell you and then make a respoinsible decision.

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