Herald Journal Columns
Nov. 21, 2005, Herald Journal

Thanksgiving means tradition


Thanksgiving Day is one of the most ritualistic holidays our family celebrates. It is almost exactly the same every year. We serve almost the identical foods and family members bring the identical dishes they brought in years past.

Everyone acts the same too. I always get jittery about the hot food getting cold when I make the gravy at the end of the turkey roasting process.

My husband, Craig, always gets stuck handling the turkey, once it’s out of the oven, because it is so big, hot and heavy. He surreptitiously tucks delectable morsels of turkey meat into his mouth while he carves it.

Craig’s family traditionally carves the turkey in the kitchen and brings it to the table in slices and pieces. When I was a youngster, my father carved the turkey at the dining room table and put the sliced meat directly on to our plates as we passed them to him.

Since Craig is willing to go to all the work of handling the turkey, he gets to say which way the carving will be done.

I ring a little glass bell when it is time for everyone to find their seats for dinner, and my daughters always get embarrassed about the bell ringing.

There is always that awkward moment right before the “Thank You Prayer” when everyone wonders when the prayer will begin.

My sister-in-law and my husband’s aunt always want to save the table scraps for the neighborhood cats and dogs. In the afternoon, half of the group ends up watching football on TV while the other half plays Mexican dominoes.

No one eats pie until late in the afternoon because everyone is so stuffed from dinner.

Each Thanksgiving is so much the same as the previous Thanksgivings, it is almost as if we are following a script.

We did add a new tradition in the last few years, though. The weekend before Thanksgiving we hang strings of tiny white lights on the trees around the house for Christmas.

Then on Thanksgiving evening, as soon as it gets dark, we gather around the kitchen window if it’s cold, or go outside if the weather is decent. Everyone is served a glass of schnapps.

My husband throws the switch and all the little white lights twinkle on. Everyone goes “ooh, ahh.” This is our lighting ceremony. No one is allowed to leave without seeing the lighting ceremony.

Even though we occasionally add traditions, we never seem to end any traditions. Thanksgiving is always the same for us and frankly, we wouldn’t want it any other way.

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