~Shared by Tammy Compton

It was back in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed November 26th “a national day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

If I say the word “Thanksgiving,” what comes to mind? Friends and family gathered near, a time to reflect on one’s many blessings? Helium-filled balloons of Snoopy, Bugs Bunny, and other beloved cartoon characters nodding their way down New York’s bustling streets during Macy’s Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade? Not to mention the marching bands strutting their stuff and filling the cold fall air with the warmth of their music.

Or perhaps it’s a visual feast of football enjoyed from an overstuffed recliner, long after the turkey and all its trimmings have been savored and devoured. Thanksgiving is many things to many people.

reunions, class tripsHere at Woodloch, it’s a time for families to be just that – family. A time to treasure each and every wonderful moment. And of course, a time to gather round the table and enjoy. It’s where you’ll find members of the Kiesendahl Family, Woodloch’s owners, graciously greeting each and every guest and serving up a bountiful meal.

“Woodloch is the perfect place to spend Thanksgiving. Many of our guests feel like they are coming home when they come to Woodloch. There is a very warm feeling when a guest arrives. Our history and the buildings have strong character. The fireplaces are burning, and the staff is ready to welcome our guests. Our family style meals remind people of the traditional Sunday Dinner they may have served at their parents or grandparents’ house as a child,” says Woodloch family member and owner, Steve Kiesendahl.

“Waiting on guests at Thanksgiving stems from Woodloch’s mission statement. We treat guests like they are company in our home. In the early days, my entire family waited on the guests at every meal. Our house count in those days was 50 guests, but still to this day when we have 1,000 guests, we are all willing to jump in and pour coffee for our guests or bring a refill on entrees. We do whatever it takes to make guests comfortable and feel pampered. It is all part of the hospitality that we were trained on growing up. I say all the time, ‘Our parents trained us well.’

“We serve over a ton of turkey at Woodloch on Thanksgiving Day throughout the afternoon and early evening. One of the things that makes it special for me is that after a hard day of work, we sit down as a family and celebrate Thanksgiving Dinner together. It is a late dinner, but it feels good to look back on a day of hard work and accomplishment. It is clearly a day that we thank God for the business that we have been able to sustain and the relationships we have built with great people over the years. We are blessed to have a wonderful staff and to have the opportunity to meet so many great people. We thank God for our family, our health and remember our relatives who have passed before us. It is a genuinely warm and touching time,” Steve says.

Woodloch family member Brooke (Kiesendahl) James explains, “Our family is in the hospitality business, and we’re all about family gathering together. And that’s really the meaning of Thanksgiving, to give thanks to those you love and are close to.”

Embracing the role of servant in a service-centered business, the Kiesendahls willingly work side by side with their staff. “Because it’s our business, we can’t have off (on Thanksgiving),” Brooke says. But that’s more than okay she assures. “It allows us as a family to be together and to help others and to help our staff.”

It ends up being an all-day Thanksgiving for the Kiesendahls. “It’s interesting because we end up getting together at the end of the day,” Brooke says.

How does Thanksgiving evening end for the Kiesendahls? It’s with a warm smile that Brooke answers: “With us all sitting around the table, laughing, sharing stories and being together.”