MISSION TACOGIVING: Reclaiming Traditions The Pandemic Tried To Steal Away From Us

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I'm on a mission to take our traditions back from Covid-19 and you're coming with me! First up, a socially distanced #missiontacogiving! LET's experience this, together!

Traditions help connect the dots of our lives.

– Jenny Goff Phillips

Traditions help connect the dots of our lives. They help younger generations carry on the legacy of their ancestors, cultures stay grounded in their roots, and family & friends strengthen their relationships with one another. THIS is why I am determined to keep them alive during the pandemic. Even if they need to be celebrated a little (or a lot) differently, that’s okay! It just means they will all be that much more memorable.

puffy taco
Sarah Noelle Photography

When the pandemic hit, like everyone else, I spent hours preparing for our “new normal.” The one big thing I did not prepare for was it taking away all of the annual traditions I had built throughout my lifetime. I always thought they would be there. I never knew they could stop so abruptly. You can imagine my excitement and sense of empowerment on December 29th, 2020, when an amazing team helped me claim one of our traditions back. I am sharing this in hopes it will inspire you to do the same!

The Tradition

Meet The Hannett family, Vi, Joe, and Gavin (9). They are some pretty amazing humans with some pretty big hearts. They also happen to really love tacos (ps – so do we!).

Every year, they invite their closest friends over to share a table of tacos and enjoy the presence of friendship. No matter how many people attend, they always set a beautiful table and, somehow, make it look so easy. Vi always adds the most special touches to the table settings that she handcrafts. For 2020, they made the socially responsible decision to not host, but I knew they were really disheartened about it. That is when a lightbulb went off inside my head. I wanted to bring Tacogiving back for them. I knew it was not going to be the same and that I would not be able to invite others they normally invite, but at least they would have one; in some way, shape, or form.

The Mission

I started brainstorming and surfing the good ole internet when an IG post from Zainy’s Flyin’ Grill popped up in my feed. Their San Antonio styled puffy taco posts had been taunting me for awhile now and I considered this a sign that we needed these at our occassion. I reached out to them and, after some conversations, we officially set a date! I called The Hannett family and told them it had been too long since we had seen them so I was scheduling an outdoor, socially-distanced bicycle playdate for the boys. They tried to politely explain to me that it was the middle of winter and might be a bit too chilly for an outdoor playdate, but I paid it no attention really. Zainab Shoja of Zainy’s Flyin’ Grill mentioned how neat it would be to have a Tacogiving yard sign. I reached out to Good Signs Loudoun and, boom, they joined the crew. At this point, I felt like Danny Ocean from Ocean’s Eleven (2001), only on maybe a slightly smaller scale so I figured why not add some more members.

The daily text messages of weather updates I was receiving from Vi leading up to our “playdate” indicated it might be a little chilly that day. Insert City Bonfires! I reached out to them and, within 3 days, their pocket-sized bonfires showed up on my doorstep. Boom, welcome to the team.

Lastly, the night before our big event, I reached out to photographer and friend, Sarah Noelle of Sarah Noelle Photography, and asked if she wanted to join in on the fun. She said I had her at “puffy taco…” and Team Tacogiving was complete.

As the date got closer, I notified my good-hearted friends that I would be outside of their house an hour prior to our “playdate” and that they were not allowed to peak outside. To most people, this might sound like a very odd and unusual request, but Vi and Joe have been friends with me long enough to know that this was a pretty typical ask and, no matter what was happening outside, they wouldn’t be able to escape it anyway :).

The day finally arrived! Team Tacogiving rolled up in stealth mode to a house with all closed shutters (they listened, yay!). Zainy’s fired up the grill while Good Signs Loudoun set up the custom yard sign.Zainys Yard Signs

My oldest son, Knox (8), and I set up the table with colorful table cloths, festive hats, Burrito blankets from Amazon, and City Bonfires as the centrepiece! Gavin is Knox’s best friend so he was excited to take part in setting up the surprise. As soon as my husband showed up, it was “Go Time!”


The Finale

We stood by the Zainy’s infamous, pink taco truck and the kids started chanting for them to come out! As they opened the door, we yelled “Happy Tacogiving!” I will always remember that moment; the surprise in their face; the excitement of my kids seeing someone else’s happiness; the business owners who made this day happen; the photographer taking pictures and videoing everything at the same time to make sure she captured it all. THIS is what life is all about. THIS is why claiming our traditions back is so important. THIS is why I am an experience enthusiast. Tacogiving

After the reveal, we sat down to a feast of the most unique and delicious tacos I have, personally, ever had. Light, puffy taco shells blanketing a variety of meats (beef, chicken, and lamb). You can find their menu here! Maverick was able to eat some of their gluten-free options, which was a HUGE plus for our family, considering all of his allergy issues. Chris’ favorite was the San Antonio beef puffy taco. Joe’s favorite was the lamb gyro and mine was the chicken kabob with extra orange, spicy sauce!Zainys Jenny Goff Phillips

The kids’ favorite came at the end! We were SO excited to get an exclusive, first taste of their dessert taco; a frosted puffy taco with nutella, strawberries, bananas, blueberries, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and a cherry on top! I am still drooling thinking about it! Zainys

Overall, I would say #missiontacogiving was a HUGE success and it has motivated me to claim back some more traditions for myself and others! While reading this, if you are ready to reclaim a unique/special tradition from Covid-19, or know someone who does, and are interested in my help, contact me at letsbyjenny@gmail.com.

If you are ready to reclaim a unique/special tradition from Covid-19, or know someone who does, and are interested in my help, contact me!

Jenny Goff Phillips

The Team

This project took about a month to plan and required a team effort. I am SO grateful to all of the local businesses who collaborated with me to make my vision come to life and give The Hannetts their tradition back. We need to always remember that behind a local business is a person; a family member; a provider. They often give back to the community, because of who they are, not what they have. I will forever recommend these businesses to all friends and family from here on out, because you are now a part of mine.

For more experiences like this, visit LETsbyjenny.com. 

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  • Roxce Castillo
    January 4, 2021

    Love what you did for them!

    • Jenny Goff Phillips
      January 4, 2021

      It’s the little gestures that make the huge impact isn’t it? Thank you for reading and sending me a note! <3

  • Viva
    January 4, 2021

    Everything about this! Perfection, heartwarming!!! So creative, thoughtful, meaningful.

    • Jenny Goff Phillips
      January 4, 2021

      You basically just described how I feel about you! Happy Tacogiving, my friend. <3 It was so fun to surprise you and to keep this tradition going! To many more!

    January 6, 2021

    Thank you!!1

A Mommy and Me Playdate in an Igloo
MISSION TACOGIVING: Reclaiming Traditions The Pandemic Tried To Steal Away From Us