Family Keeps Up 40-Year Thanksgiving Breakfast Tradition

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The Hollanders: Ari, now 18; Rachel, now 22; Jeff and Jennifer have welcomed guests to their home on Thanksgiving morning for the past 18 years.

Jennifer and Jeff Hollander of West Bloomfield won’t wake up early on Thanksgiving morning to put their holiday turkey into the oven. Instead, they will be heating up griddles for the first batch of pumpkin pancakes that will serve some 70-80 friends and family at their annual Thanksgiving Breakfast, a tradition dating back some four decades.

Jennifer’s parents, Judy and John Marx of West Bloomfield, began serving breakfast to friends on Thanksgiving morning in the late ’70s, when “the guys,” on their way to the Silverdome, would stop by to pick up the Lions’ tickets that John had ordered. “Invite their wives for breakfast, too,” Judy recalls saying, “and tell them to bring along the kids.”

At last year’s event, Rachel Rosenthal of Sylvan Lake, Andrew Nathan of Farmington Hills and Brandon Rothenberg of West Bloomfield
At last year’s event, Rachel Rosenthal of Sylvan Lake, Andrew Nathan of Farmington Hills and Brandon Rothenberg of West Bloomfield

Bagels and lox? No way! The fare was always typical Americana: pumpkin pancakes, turkey bacon, oatmeal, cranberry nut bread and more. The breakfast crowd grew each year and, after the Lions moved to Ford Field and tickets were harder to obtain, the morning happening became an event in its own right. Jennifer and her brother began inviting their friends as well.

Jennifer and Jeff met in 1984. After they were married, they announced that when they moved into a home, the annual Thanksgiving Breakfast was the first holiday gathering they would like to host. And so, in 1998, the couple prepared a morning feast for 35 adults and 10 kids — friends and family of both the Hollanders and the Marxes.

Ari Hollander, now a freshman at Michigan State University, had his first taste of pumpkin pancakes as a 6-month-old that morning while 4-year-old Rachel made turkey decorations for the occasion.

Max Petry of Bartlett, Ill., watches Nate Gold of Northville help himself to his first pancakes of the morning.
Max Petry of Bartlett, Ill., watches Nate Gold of Northville help himself to his first pancakes of the morning.

Eighteen years later, the tradition continues with three generations of visiting pilgrims enjoying the several hundred pancakes that come off the griddle, along with a variety of breakfast dishes contributed by the Hollanders’ guests.

“Our holiday tradition is incredibly important to us and to the dozens of families who begin Thanksgiving weekend at our house,” Jeff says.

“The smells of hot apple cider and pumpkin pancakes, the chatter of returning college students exchanging stories from the past year and the sight of the friendly football game in the backyard are what makes this occasion so special for all of us,” Jennifer says.

This year will be no exception at the Hollanders’ house. When the flock of friends and family trot on over, once again there will be plenty of pumpkin pancakes and all the fixings for gobblers of all ages. 

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