Western Thanksgiving Traditions

The mere thought of Thanksgiving leaves me humming the chorus of “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof. (Just be glad this blog doesn’t come with an audio feature!) I love the holidays and I particularly love Western holiday traditions. And one of the really great things about them is that they are as unique and individual as the families that created them. Western traditions are not a “one-size-fits-all” proposition. There are no rights or wrongs. There is only, “Tradition, tradition! Tradition!” (I knew I was bound to lapse into song.)

For me, the Thanksgiving holiday brings back childhood memories of wild turkey hunts on horseback with my family and days of preparation for a meal that was soon to be devoured by people who would sleep the sleep of the stuffed. Hours of work went into meal preparation, and oh the meals! Thank the Good Lord for stretchy pants! And how about the hours spent cleaning the house before the big day, despite the fact that it would soon look like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade had just passed through our dining room? AH, memories.

Folks who lived nearby would often invite us to their Thanksgiving celebrations, so on these occasions, our holiday took on a very different focus. One celebration we were invited to attend was called the “Do-Gooders Thanksgiving Day Celebration”. The plan was this: everyone gets into their cars, and follows a carefully planned “covert kindness assault” on lonely people in isolated diners, like Waffle House, or just some little honky-tonk dive tucked way away somewhere remote. Is there any sadder place in the world than a Waffle House on Thanksgiving?????!!!!! We’d go in, order a cup of coffee, and secretly pay the tab for random, sad-looking people, and then leave before they could find out! These were just random acts of kindness, but we saw ourselves and guerrillas, spreading happiness in a vast wasteland of sadness. And we’d make a full day of it, covering an area of .a hundred miles square or so. That was a good time, for sure . . . and we all really enjoyed sharing our stories at the end of that day, at home, in front of the fireplace.

Another year, one of our neighbors invited us to their “family” celebration. The plan was to drive all of our vehicles to the closest military base and to load up our cars with soldiers who had nowhere to go. We brought them back to the house to join in our celebration, which was a pot luck sort of meal, every one of the neighbors in our area bringing all they had prepared. It was great to get to know people we otherwise never would have met, and those young men and women soldiers deeply appreciated having a family celebration to attend. Nothing satisfies like doing a good deed on a day when lonely people need it most.

So in the West, “anything goes” for holiday celebrations! And how about you? You all have Thanksgiving traditions of your own, and we’d love to hear about them! Maybe a hayride, where giggling children are reminded to wear their jackets and where everyone is thankful for the thermoses filled with hot chocolate and warm, apple cider? Perhaps you watch the Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, or perhaps you go to New York City to start your Christmas shopping early! Perhaps you attend a football game or watch some on TV. I’ll just bet that you have traditions of your own that would have made Norman Rockwell reach for his paint brush. . .and we’d love to be right there with you!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Anita Lequoia

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