In the late 70’s when I was a kid, the family went to Breckenridge, Colorado for a long Thanksgiving holiday. Snow, skiing, fun, stuff. Really enjoyed those trips.
One year, total whiteout conditions. Like, can’t see the car from the window blizzard. We ended up straightening out coat hangers to roast hotdogs over the fire. ‘Cause that’s what you do.
When I moved to LA in ’90, I started a tradition wherein me and my roommates cooked chilidogs for Thanksgiving, because we were all from out of state and didn’t have family to go visit. Kept that tradition up when I left LA in ’95. Did it back in Kansas in ’96. Then moved to Seattle in ’97. Kept it up.
When Donna and I got serious, she was a fantastic cook. And so there was always a Thanksgiving turkey done. I ended up rotating to having my chili dogs for breakfast early, just because that had become my family tradition and I wanted to keep at it. (Yeah, don’t ask.)
Lost her ten years ago (summer of ’08) and her birthday is Nov 25th, so she is always on my mind this time of year. (And Fabulous Publisher Babe’s ™ birthday is a week later, so I am getting into planning for that.)
But the tradition was strong.
However, I was a broken soul for a long time. Way longer than leaving for LA in ’90. Didn’t finally decide to be a happy person until five years ago. Over the last decade, the annual task of reinventing myself has moved from where it used to be to how I can be more happy in myself in the future.
So last year, I skipped the chili dogs. Just decided not to do them. Put that in the past and let it go. That way, I can start remembering the good times, and not necessarily the bad times.
Fortunately, most of you didn’t know me at my worst. Very few people who were around me at the blackest times are still around. Snake died about fifteen years ago. Bishop’s just dead to me, and a number of others. Pike will never get on social media to see this. Nor will Frosty. Haven’t seen A-bomb in nearly twenty-five years. Coop still exists, but has turned into such a hermit that I have to poke him with a cattle prod set to high to get a response.
Others I miss include Sean and Perry. With Donna. I lost all three of them in a 14 month stretch.
But that’s yesterday. I want to be thankful that I had those times, and that I survived them. But I don’t want to be defined by them anymore.
So this year, Fabulous Publisher Babe and I were in Costco, meandering and looking for inspiration. In past years, we did a writing marathon over the holiday break, but I don’t have to go back to work on Monday. Or rather, I never stop banging away at the greatest hobby of all time.
She looked at the turkeys and decided she wanted to have one this year. We’ve had Cornish Game Hens in the past, but neither of us has ever made a full turkey. Her brother has a great recipe we’re going to try.
Then the side fixings. She’s making cranberry-orange relish. We’ve got Brussel Sprouts to bake. Keto/Paleo biscuits.
The fun is stuffing, since she’s full keto these days.
When I was a kid, cranberrys came out of a can and stuffing out of a box. She’s making it from scratch. We did with and without oysters, but her traditions include sausage.
So I just finished making two pounds of sausage for her. From scratch. When she asked, I handed her my book on sausage recipes and she picked.
Got two pounds of Kielbasa chilling and drying in the refrigerator as we speak. About half will go into the stuffing, and she’s going to have the other half for soups and whatever.
Told her I thought that should be my new tradition, to make sausage for whatever it was we were doing for Thanksgiving and got a hearty “OH YEAH!”
[brief pause while kitty demanded scritches. She’s decided in the last week she likes it when I scratch her back, after five years. I have apparently been found adequate by the cat.]
So that’s my new holiday tradition. We try to do something new on a regular basis, as part of the Anti-Stodgy Campaign.
What are you doing to not fall into the same rut?