Thanksgiving Traditions

Do you have any? Until I married Lady Laird, I’m not sure I did. Other than watching the Detroit Lions lose a football game in the afternoon.

She came equipped with one decidedly odd one I should have known about but didn’t. Which is that you must listen to Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant on the day.

You see, there was once a radio station that was THE radio station. WMMR in Philadelphia. They billed themselves as “progressive rock” and pioneered the on-air personalities who didn’t yell like the AM stars of the time, you know, Wolfman Jack, Cousing Brucie, et al. MMR even had a nerdy little guy who just loved the music. His name was Michael Tearson, he adored rock and roll music, and he was a bookishly conversational radio host, so earnest that he felt like everybody’s smarter younger brother.

That was the WMMR experience. They talked to you. They were fans. They were crazy. They did Stones A to Z weekends, playing every single Rolling Stones song in alphabetical order. You could plan your weekend around your favorite letters of the alphabet.

And then there was Pierre Robert, who without my permission, started the Alice’s Restaurant tradition on Thanksgiving.

I learned about it from my wife about ten years ago, something she shared with her son, the both of them listening at the same time, and I found it, you know, moving somehow.

Frankly, I have no idea what the song has to do with Thanksgiving. But I don’t care. It’s a good thing and a reminder that there were happier days when not everything had a political meaning or penumbra or tag.

WMMR is not much anymore. Just another classic rock station stuck in the past. Pierre Robert is still there, a literal graybeard who also seems stuck in time. The good news is that Arlo’s song is available on Youtube, and the tradition can continue in perpetuity.

This morning I woke her because it was time to check the turkey which had been roasting overnight. Sleepily, she said “I thought it was me whose favorite holiday was Thanksgiving.” Not anymore, sweetie. I’ve caught the bug.

Do you have a weird Thanksgiving tradition of some sort. If so, please share.

Regardless, have a great day with your family. We sure will.

4 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Traditions

  1. Alice’s Restaurant! That used to be part of our tradition as we rolled in the family van toward my grandparents’ place in New England. We’d roll down the main line outside of Philadelphia and then point north up 476, the Blue Route, while Guthrie’s long-winded story amused us. Funny you should mention it, thanksgiving serendicity at work.

    Thanksgiving was the one time of year that the entire Lake side of the family would get together. We were scattered to the wind at Christmas, even more so when all of us ‘kids’ started getting married and had in-law compromises to make.

    We’d have an excellent dinner, courtesy of my micro-managing grandmother who would essentially not let *anyone* help. We’d always line up for a big group photo, taking dozens or hundreds of shots (in the digital age) to try to get ONE where everyone was looking.

    We’d nervously re-acquaint ourselves with our cousins when we were all teens and younger, and we got updates from everyone along with a listing of the things they were thankful for. We sometimes tried to make things together. My grandfather was as passionate about war-era prop planes as you are about cars, RL, so we built cardboard model versions and tried to fly them in flight simulator programs on his ancient computer.

    Then we’d do something unusual, the tradition I really remember. We’d put on our coats and tromp half a mile to the local hockey rink. Not to skate, no. We would walk around back to the huge mounds of snow/ice left from the Zamboni and would proceed to have a massive snowball fight. Some years, there was snow on the ground, but plenty of years, we’d be running on grass or mud. But there was enough snow to make all of our arms ache, not to mention the places we’d been hit. When we were little kids, it was all laughs and light tosses, but as we grew, it got decidedly intense. Tempers were occasionally lost, and plenty of people ended up with those painful ice/snow scraps on exposed areas. Thinking back, I’m not sure who prompted this annual melee or why we kept doing it — it’s a particularly savage tradition. But we loved it, every second of it.

    We stopped going to my grandmother’s when my grandfather passed away almost instantly of pancreatic cancer six years ago. We’re down in PA right now, starting fresh traditions with the next generation. Hope we can find some icy snow.

  2. I saw my younger brother for the first time in a long time. We went to the Golden Lamb in Lebanon, Ohio, which has been in constant operation since the late 18th century. Everyone from Ulysses Grant to Mark Twain has been there. I had the pickled watermelon rind as an appetizer, which sounds horrendous but was delicious, and for the main course I enjoyed venison-stuffed pheasant.

    All in all a good time. I could be wrong, but I sense fatigue on the part of progressives at least on the holiday-front when it comes to the culture wars. I see Christmas lights everywhere in my neighborhood.

    • No fatigue on their part. Spend a few hours watching TV and take a shot every time you see an ad refer to “holiday”, have Santa, feature pictures of presents and trees, or do anything aside from coming right out & saying the word “Christmas”. You’ll be drunk pretty quickly.

  3. We had a good Thanksgiving. Hope everyone else did, too. Our tradition is simply eating the traditional feast cooked by my mom, followed by dozing off during the football games. It was delicious this year, as always. We even brought our two dogs over so we could all spend the night and they could play with my parents’ dog. The big dog didn’t understand why she was placed outside with the other two dogs. The little one got out of his leash at some point but luckily is too scared to run off without one of the big dogs, so he stayed in the yard.

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