Friday, December 1, 2023

Couple Brings Thanksgiving Book to Life at Their Home

Couple Brings Thanksgiving Book to Life at Their Home

By Karen Knight

An Ocean View couple, Cecelia and Shawn Quigley, decided to bring the book “Thanksgiving in the Woods” to life and host their own feast with family, friends and members of the community at their home.
Shawn Quigley
An Ocean View couple, Cecelia and Shawn Quigley, decided to bring the book “Thanksgiving in the Woods” to life and host their own feast with family, friends and members of the community at their home.

OCEAN VIEW – When Cecelia Quigley read the book “Thanksgiving in the Woods” to her preschoolers, she and her husband decided they would replicate the idea and invite family, friends and colleagues who were alone to celebrate Thanksgiving with them at their home.

So last year, about a dozen people gathered around a large table outside a historic home on their property to share in a homemade Thanksgiving feast, celebrating family, community, simplicity and generosity.

The Quigleys decided to use the Thomas Gandy historic home on their Ocean View property as the site for a Thanksgiving feast for family, friends and community members last year. The event went well, so they will be doing it again this Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Shawn Quigley

The dinner went so well that the couple plan to do it again this year, and expect an even larger group to come.

“We wanted to bring the book to life,” Shawn Quigley said, “and for us it was a natural thing to take the book idea and grow it into this Thanksgiving event. We tend to like to serve our community, as we both are from the area and are committed to helping others.

“Last year we had about a dozen people join us, and this year, we are expecting more as we keep telling people we meet about it. I’m not sure how many we’ll have, but we’ll have the traditional dinner and all the fixings and bring the book to life.”

Linda Brown, left, Bob Luzny and Cecelia Quigley share good food, conversation and friendship at the Quigleys’ Thanksgiving dinner last year. Photo Credit: Shawn Quigley

“Thanksgiving in the Woods is based on the true story of a family in upstate New York that has hosted an outdoor Thanksgiving feast in the woods on their farm for over 20 years. The Quigleys live in Ocean View, and have farm animals and the historic Thomas Gandy house from the 1700s on their property. In the book, everyone brings something to share, and the day becomes a long celebration of family, faith and friendship.

The Quigleys tried to replicate the book’s scenes with their own bonfire, long tables and guests. “Some people brought a dish to share, but we cooked the bigger items and filled in with the rest,” he said. “One family, who had lost their father, didn’t want to spend a quiet, sad day at home and asked if they could join us. They did, and we had a nice time with them.

“We also had the man who helps us around our property, who would have been alone for Thanksgiving. It was nice to include him in our festivities.”

Last year, Quigley said the temperatures were a bit cold, ranging in the low 40s. “It was cold, and while our food tasted great, it got cold fast,” he chuckled. “This year we will have warming trays so we can enjoy ourselves no matter what the temperature is.”

Turkey and all the fixings were shared outside last year by the Quigleys. Photo Credit: Shawn Quigley

Cecelia Quigley operates a day-care facility for children ages 3 months to 6 years. She tries to incorporate her homestead environment and all it offers as part of her programs. Her husband is a piano instructor, and with each having at least 40 years in their respective careers and having grown up in the area, they like helping others in need and sharing their bounty.

Nicole Frabosilio helps her daughter, Jossilyn Cisneros, roast a marshmallow last Thanksgiving during the Quigleys’ “Thanksgiving in the Woods” dinner. Photo Credit: Shawn Quigley

“We wanted to at least connect with the families that we know and work with,” Quigley said, “and offer them a chance to celebrate with us. We’re looking forward to doing it again this year.”

Contact the author, Karen Knight, at


Karen Knight is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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