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Thayercare ‘family’ celebrates Thanksgiving in Hadley

  • <br/>Betty Thayer makes 3 chocolate pies to add to her combination of pumpkin and apple making a total of 9 to serve at the Thanksgiving dinner she serves her clients.


    Betty Thayer makes 3 chocolate pies to add to her combination of pumpkin and apple making a total of 9 to serve at the Thanksgiving dinner she serves her clients. Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Betty Thayer makes three chocolate pies to add to her combination of pumpkin and apple making a total of 9 to serve at the Thanksgiving dinner she serves her clients.<br/>


    Betty Thayer makes three chocolate pies to add to her combination of pumpkin and apple making a total of 9 to serve at the Thanksgiving dinner she serves her clients.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Betty Thayer, back middle watches as left Katherine Whitcomb, the cook at Thayer Care serves plates of Thanksgiving dinner and, Heidi Houle, an employee deliveries them to clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.<br/>


    Betty Thayer, back middle watches as left Katherine Whitcomb, the cook at Thayer Care serves plates of Thanksgiving dinner and, Heidi Houle, an employee deliveries them to clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Betty Thayer makes contact with John Vinelli, an especially picker eater who ate everything on his plate during a  Thanksgiving dinner Thayer hosted  for her clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.<br/>


    Betty Thayer makes contact with John Vinelli, an especially picker eater who ate everything on his plate during a Thanksgiving dinner Thayer hosted for her clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sue Morin, an employee at Thayer Care gets a kiss from Alice Caron during a <br/>Thanksgiving dinner at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.<br/>

    Sue Morin, an employee at Thayer Care gets a kiss from Alice Caron during a
    Thanksgiving dinner at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Betty Thayer hosts Thanksgiving dinner for her clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon. Here Thayer serves Kim Johnson a piece of pie.<br/>


    Betty Thayer hosts Thanksgiving dinner for her clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon. Here Thayer serves Kim Johnson a piece of pie.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Judy Caputo, a client at Thayer Care in Hadley happy after eating every bit of the Turkey thigh during a  Thanksgiving dinner  at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.<br/>

    Judy Caputo, a client at Thayer Care in Hadley happy after eating every bit of the Turkey thigh during a Thanksgiving dinner at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Betty Thayer hosts Thanksgiving dinner for her clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.<br/>


    Betty Thayer hosts Thanksgiving dinner for her clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Three  Apple pies made by Betty Thayer for the Thanksgiving dinner she makes for her Thayer Care clients which she server Wednesday afternoon. <br/>

    Three Apple pies made by Betty Thayer for the Thanksgiving dinner she makes for her Thayer Care clients which she server Wednesday afternoon.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Pies made by Betty Thayer for the Thanksgiving dinner she makes for her Thayer Care clients which she server Wednesday afternoon. <br/><br/>

    Pies made by Betty Thayer for the Thanksgiving dinner she makes for her Thayer Care clients which she server Wednesday afternoon.

    Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Betty Thayer makes 3 chocolate pies to add to her combination of pumpkin and apple making a total of 9 to serve at the Thanksgiving dinner she serves her clients.
  • <br/>Betty Thayer makes three chocolate pies to add to her combination of pumpkin and apple making a total of 9 to serve at the Thanksgiving dinner she serves her clients.<br/>
  • <br/>Betty Thayer, back middle watches as left Katherine Whitcomb, the cook at Thayer Care serves plates of Thanksgiving dinner and, Heidi Houle, an employee deliveries them to clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.<br/>
  • <br/>Betty Thayer makes contact with John Vinelli, an especially picker eater who ate everything on his plate during a  Thanksgiving dinner Thayer hosted  for her clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.<br/>
  • Sue Morin, an employee at Thayer Care gets a kiss from Alice Caron during a <br/>Thanksgiving dinner at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.<br/>
  • <br/>Betty Thayer hosts Thanksgiving dinner for her clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon. Here Thayer serves Kim Johnson a piece of pie.<br/>
  • Judy Caputo, a client at Thayer Care in Hadley happy after eating every bit of the Turkey thigh during a  Thanksgiving dinner  at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.<br/>
  • <br/>Betty Thayer hosts Thanksgiving dinner for her clients at Thayer Care in Hadley Wednesday afternoon.<br/>
  • Three  Apple pies made by Betty Thayer for the Thanksgiving dinner she makes for her Thayer Care clients which she server Wednesday afternoon. <br/>
  • Pies made by Betty Thayer for the Thanksgiving dinner she makes for her Thayer Care clients which she server Wednesday afternoon. <br/><br/>

The excitement was palpable at Thayercare in Hadley Wednesday morning, and when the cart carrying the pounds of turkey, potatoes and other Thanksgiving staples was wheeled into the dining room, the expectant diners broke into spontaneous applause.

The roughly 45 adult day-care clients take their annual Thanksgiving dinner very seriously; for most of them, this is one of their favorite events of the year.

“I love the food. I love the excitement,” said Sharon Boyer, 43, as she waited to eat. “I love the holidays.”

The center, which provides care and activities to elderly and disabled people, is closed on Thanksgiving Day, so in order to observe the holiday together, they share a traditional holiday meal the day before. Thayercare owner and director Betty Thayer said her clients start talking about looking forward to Thanksgiving the day after Halloween.

“Very few of them actually live with family, they live in group homes or some live alone,” she said. “So for them, unless they go to a church dinner, they stay home and they don’t have a Thanksgiving dinner.”

Taking a short break after a morning of cooking, Thayer said the agency’s Thanksgiving celebration has been around since she opened Thayercare nearly 12 years ago.

“We learned after the first few years, you can’t do it all that day,” she said.

Preparing the meal takes about three days. She joked with some of the clients, saying that maybe this year, she would serve tuna fish. But instead, she and Thayercare chef Katherine Witcomb prepared two turkeys, 25 pounds of mashed potatoes, 15 pounds of squash, nine pies and numerous cans of cranberry sauce and boxes of stuffing.

On Tuesday, a client said she hoped to eat sweet potatoes, but they weren’t on the menu, so Thayer headed to the store to pick up sweet potatoes.

The center has also grown since Thayer opened her business. It started with 18 people, and now 45 or 50 people come almost every day to the house at 49 Middle St., a former church rectory building.

Thayercare opened another day care in Ware last year. Clients there had their holiday meal on Monday, she said. “It’s really important to me that I get to do this for them, because they’re very appreciative,” she said. The program also offers its clients celebratory meals at Christmas and Easter.

While the tradition and festivity of the holidays are important to the clients, Thayer said they also enjoy the meals simply because of the abundance of food.

“Food is very important to a lot of them,” she said. “Some of the folks grew up at state hospitals, where if you didn’t eat it, the person next to you would get it.”

Excitement builds

Thayer clearly enjoys the commotion her meal inspires.

“They’re so excited,” she said minutes before the eating commenced. “They’ve been arguing over who gets the turkey legs.”

One of the most enthusiastic fans of the turkey leg was Judy Caputo, 65. Before the meal, she told anyone who would listen that she planned to eat a turkey leg and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

After client Edward Suleski said grace, a staff member set a heaping plate of food, including a turkey leg, in front of Caputo. She forked a piece of it into her mouth with a look of immense satisfaction.

Caputo said she would have another turkey leg Thursday, when she has Thanksgiving dinner with her family at home in Northampton. “I like the one here,” she said of the Thayercare dinner.

“She has good food here,” Alice Caron, 54, chimed in. “I enjoy coming here.”

Boyer said she would be spending Thanksgiving Day with family at her sister’s house. “There’s two families,” she said, referring to her two holidays. “It’s wonderful, it’s terrific because everyone gets so excited about the holidays.”

“I’m thankful for everything,” Boyer said seriously. “I have lots of family, lots of friends I’m thankful for.”

As Thayercare employees loaded plates with food and delivered them to the tables, the dining room became quieter and quieter as clients tucked into the homemade meal before them.

“Today, there won’t be anything left on their plates,” Thayer said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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