GOSHEN — For the Isacs, celebrating Thanksgiving has always been at the top of their list.
Last year, though, was a little different for them. Like everyone else, their guest list was limited due to the pandemic.
But they were also missing someone who should have been there.
It wasn’t until she sat down to eat that it really hit Nadine Isacs that her husband Peter, who died in August 2020, wouldn’t be joining them.
“I remember the table was gorgeous, the food was perfect,” she said. “Everything was ideal. We sat down...and it was at that moment that it hit us.”
Nadine and her two sons, PK and Christopher, love the holiday so much that they recently wrote “Gobble: The Quintessential Thanksgiving Playbook” in honor of Peter.
“Thanksgiving was always super special in our house,” Nadine Isacs said. “Part of the reason is because you don’t have the gifts and the pressure of Christmas. It’s really about family.”
“Thanksgiving purely celebrates family and food,” Christopher Isacs said. “The whole concept of gratitude has always been really important to us and the way we were brought up. You are considering what you are thankful for.”
The plans for the book were laid out on an October evening last year, when Nadine Isacs and her sons were enjoying a few glasses of wine.
“We were bracing ourselves for a pretty tough Thanksgiving,” she said. “Not only was there an empty seat at our table because of Peter, but our relatives couldn’t come either. We were talking about Thanksgiving and Christopher said we could write a book on it.”
In the book, the family spills its secrets towards planning and executing the best Thanksgiving possible. They aren’t looking to replace grandma’s special recipes, only elevate them and the rest of the day.
And to do so, PK and Christopher Isac both took what they learned from their father.
“It 100 percent is in tribute to him,” PK Isac said. “We were bracing for a difficult holiday. Writing this book in his memory really felt like a good way to approach the holiday. I write about wine and cocktails and Chris writes about the food. I really learned about wine from my father. Chris learned cooking for my father. It’s really a way of passing on what he taught us. We’re bringing him into everyone else’s Thanksgiving.”
Aside from Peter’s wine and food knowledge, his sons said he was also the spark at the dinner table that drove conservation, something they sorely miss.
“So many of the things that we said earlier that we love about Thanksgiving, were also the things we loved about our father,” Christopher Isac said. “He was so family centric. He loved food. He was the ultimate dinner time conversationalist. The holiday and the spirit of our father goes hand in hand.”
Despite the pandemic, and the absence of Peter, the Isacs made the best of their 2020 Thanksgiving. They had a smaller contingency of family with them — people who were able to quarantine with them — and were busy documenting and cataloging everything in anticipation of writing their book.
“By the time Thanksgiving came around, we were taking pictures and were really engaged in ways we hadn’t been before,” Nadine Isac said. “We had this mission of writing the book and spreading our joy of Thanksgiving.”
“Every Thanksgiving, the lead up to it is so busy, and this one in particular was especially busy because we were photographing and documenting everything,” Christopher Isac said. “In a way that was a helpful way to keep focus on something productive.”
The covers includes food, drinks, entertainment, traditions, decorations and more, the family said. The book, which will release on Oct. 26, is intended to help others “raise their Thanksgiving game.”
“If you love your grandma’s sweet potato recipe...don’t get rid of that...but there are tips to improve,” PK Isac said. “You can keep traditions, while improving them along the way.”