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Alaska: The Last Frontier exclusive — How Thanksgiving is done at the Kilcher homestead

Tonight on Alaska The Last Frontier on Discovery Channel, the Kilcher Family takes Thanksgiving from the homestead for a special twist. Atz Sr.’s floating homestead, the Yuletide will hold the celebration.

Like most every family, Thanksgiving is a handed down treasure where music and food are part of the celebration. The Kilchers are awash in family traditions too, as each person brings something special to share – from homestead dishes to the dinner table itself.

Last week, Atz Lee built a bridge and subsequently encountered a predator in the backcountry. And Otto’s hay season nearly came to a halt when a broken tractor forced him to get creative, which is always entertaining. Eivin, Eve and Bonnie journeyed to Atz Sr’s floating homestead to bring him some crops ahead of the big turkey day.

Atz Sr. Kilcher is the oldest child of Yule and Ruth, who escaped Hitler’s Eastern Europe occupation and moved to the Western wilderness. Atz Sr. is the patriarch who helps Otto’s herd stay alive and out of danger and hunts bears and apex predators.

His wife is Bonnie and they have four children. Shane moved back to the homestead with his family. Jewel is a worldwide singing star and the younger siblings Atz Lee and Nikos still live on the homestead today.

Shane appreciates the lasting effects the table will have on Kilcher Thanksgivings. Pic credit: Discovery
Shane appreciates the lasting effects the table will have on Kilcher Thanksgivings. Pic credit: Discovery

In the clip you see Atz Junior and Shane Kilcher helping Atz make a new trestle table for the big family feast.

Atz Sr. has been busy milling up long pieces of lumber in a bid to make a larger trestle table to hold the whole family. He describes the kind of table he wants to make.

“This is a trestle table, so instead of four legs you just kind of have two little walls, one at each end… then to keep those from wobbling, you put the trestle in between when it all comes together. Pretty cool!”

Even the glue is special: “This isn’t just normal Elmer’s glue here, this is a two-part epoxy… much stronger,” explains Atz Sr.

Atz Senior and Junior look at the table and plan the next cut. Pic credit: Discovery
Atz Senior and Junior look at the table and plan the next cut. Pic credit: Discovery

Observing and absorbing the task at hand, sons Atz Jr. is with Shane on the floating homestead dubbed The Yuletide to lend a helping set of hands for Atz Sr.

“This is gonna be pretty rustic, not real finally finished,” Shane explained. “It’s pretty simple, I think kind of like you’d expect for a floating homestead rough and tumble, let’s have everybody over for Thanksgiving table!”

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Atz Jr. takes us “down to chisel town” as he explains how the table is constructed. He says, “What we’re doing here is this is all gonna go away and this inch and a half piece is gonna slide into a hole in the leg of the table and give that table structural integrity that we’re looking for, for [our] Thanksgiving dinner.”

In closing, Shane appreciates the lasting heirloom quality the table brings to his family.

“This is going to be historical in our family legend,” Shane says. “You know, the time we went out and found dad on his floating homestead and he showed us how to build an old table.”

“[The] family working together and creating a family heirloom. For me, that’s really kind of special to bring to Thanksgiving.”

Watch as Atz Sr. pretends he has the feast already in front of him.

Alaska: The Last Frontier airs on Sundays at 9/8c on Discovery.

April Neale
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