Other ways Bostonians celebrated Thanksgiving

Clockwise from top, left: Scott Crasnick, 24, put in time working out at Boston Sports Club,  Daniel Ramirez laughed with volunteer Vilbur Vilaltoro at a dinner at East Boston’s Sacred Heart Parish,  Torie Kim cooked up a meal for her roommates and friends at her Cambridge home, and  Tracy and Kayla Nguyen of Worcester joined their family for dim sum.


Clockwise from top, left: Scott Crasnick, 24, put in time working out at Boston Sports Club, Daniel Ramirez laughed with volunteer Vilbur Vilaltoro at a dinner at East Boston’s Sacred Heart Parish, Torie Kim cooked up a meal for her roommates and friends at her Cambridge home, and Tracy and Kayla Nguyen of Worcester joined their family for dim sum.

On Thanksgiving, the die-hards sweat it out

On Wednesday, Boston Sports Club teemed with people scrambling to squeeze in one more workout before facing relatives they may not have seen in months.

“They think that one last workout will make the difference and their families will say, ‘Hey, you look good!’ ” said the gym’s manager, Mike Brady.


But Thursday? That was for the die-hards, those determined to exercise five or six days a week, eschewing the Thanksgiving Day tradition of loafing on the couch until feeding time.

At midmorning, about three dozen people spread around the Boylston Street gym, sweating it out on treadmills and bikes, trying to ignore the burn in their muscles by watching “Dr. Phil” or ESPN on small television screens atop the machines.

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“I don’t want this day to derail my motivation,” Catherine Foley, 29, panted as she walked swiftly on a treadmill. The South Boston health worker planned to meet family in Milton later for a dinner relatively light on the fat, courtesy of her mother’s devotion to healthy cooking.

“But, of course, there will be dessert,” Foley said.

In the weight room, Scott Crasnick, 24, embarked on cross-training. His Italian family adds lasagna and meatballs to the usual holiday fixings. So working out proves crucial. “I’ll feel a lot better knowing I’m going to be eating a lot later,” he said.


And he planned to return Friday, likely joined by the guilt-ridden and calorie-laden.

“We’ll be jammed,” Brady said.

— Maria Cramer

A community comes together

‘Everybody here has a story,” Kathleen Monteleone said.

Hers is a familiar one. She is 65, retired, and living in East Boston with no family nearby at Thanksgiving. “It’s kind of heartbreaking to be by yourself.”

Monteleone wanted company, and she found it in the basement of East Boston’s Sacred Heart Parish on Thursday. There, she and hundreds of her neighbors who reflected the community’s ethnic diversity sat down before plates heaped with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and squash.

For six years, state Representative Carlo P. Basile has tried to make sure no one in this community spends Thanksgiving alone, leading a cadre of volunteers who run the free dinner with military efficiency.

Kevin Martinez, 18, ate with his siblings and parents, both immigrants from El Salvador. “It’s so nice that all these people around the community could come together,” Martinez said.

Cheerful pop music filled the hall, while children played. But some faces showed signs of worry. Joanne Perry said she was a nurse’s aide before losing her job and spending months homeless. She has an apartment now but owns only a mattress, a table, and a television, all found on the street.

“I’ve always helped people, but I never really asked them to help me,” the 53-year-old said. “I was too proud to beg.”

Jeremy C. Fox

— Jeremy C. Fox

Quiet day in College Town, USA

Weekday mornings on Commonwealth Avenue usually entail Boston University students scurrying to class, avoiding collisions with horn-blaring drivers. Coffee shops brim with people jostling for tables. Parking is scarce.

on Thanksgiving Day, the campus was eerily quiet, the silence broken only occasionally by the trundling of a Green Line trolley.

Senior Allison Williams loved it. “I’m not stuck here,” Williams said. “I chose to stay.”

the $300 she might have spent on an airline ticket home to Georgia could now go toward holiday shopping. Plus, she knew she would see her family at Christmas.

And a quiet campus is heaven.

It’s not like she would be alone, either. She planned to spend the day in Wilmington, at the house of her boyfriend’s aunt. She and her friends enjoyed their own Thanksgiving meal the week before, albeit without turkey and stuffing.

“We made the desserts,” she said. “Brownies, pumpkin pie, chocolate cake with a layer of pudding on it. Enough to make you sick.”

In Cambridge, Torie Kim had a similar plan. With her family in South Korea, the recent Emerson College graduate decided to make a mostly traditional Thanksgiving feast for roommates and a few friends.

“Instead of turkey, I’m making a chicken. It’s just too big and it takes too long,” said Kim, 22. “I try to invite whoever is stuck in Boston.”

Maria Cramer

— Maria Cramer

A Chinatown take on the holiday

Thanksgiving in Chinatown: fried chicken feet, fluffy rice, and other dim sum fare trumps turkey legs and stuffing. The food arrives in bamboo steamer baskets, instead of grandma’s fine china. And it’s served a la carte, from steel carts pushed through crowded dining rooms where families — mostly Asian — celebrate an American holiday in their own tradition.

“The holiday is always busy for us,” said John Mu, a head waiter at Hei La Moon, a 625-seat restaurant with a line snaking out the door at noontime. The servers, clad in red waistcoats and bow ties, maneuver among tables swaddled in white linen.

“Most of the Chinese restaurants in the suburbs are closed, so people come here.”

Shu and Lai Lee were there. Immigrants from Hong Kong, they spend most days cooking at the Wok Inn, the Chinese restaurant they opened 23 years ago in Portland, Maine.

Not on Thanksgiving, when they close up shop and travel to Boston’s Chinatown. “Family first,” said Lai, 57.

The couple shared dim sum at Hei La Moon with their daughter, YeeLin, 34; son, Sai, 32; and grandsons, Luke, 4; and Jake, 10 months.

On the table: barbecue pork, spare ribs, rice rolls, mini custard tarts. It’s been that way since she was a child growing up in Maine, YeeLin said.

“We just really like spending the day together, as a family,” said YeeLin, who works at her parents’ restaurant. “It’s our own way of showing gratitude.”

— Kathy McCabe

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