Traditions at Thanksgiving

… and Non-Traditions, too

By Jeff Salter

This whole week at 4F1H, I’ve been wracking my brain for images which I’d consider “traditions” — for how or where I’d spent Thanksgiving. I took the sense of that topic as being primarily about the Thanksgiving MEAL… and I’m coming up rather blank.

As far as a family meal itself, a few stand out. One is a fairly early one, when I was in grade school (late 50s or early 60s) and we all went to my Grandmother Robinson’s small house in our same town of Covington LA. She’d prepared a lavish – by our standards – feast and it was one of the few times I recall eating in her actual dining space. I remember each of us was asked to say a portion of Grace, in which we mentioned something particular we were thankful for. I don’t recall what I was appreciative of, but my little sister was thankful for the cranberry sauce. Wonder why that sticks in my brain?

I married young and many of our Thanksgivings were spent elsewhere, besides our own meager digs. For example, in my 3.5 Air Force years, we were stationed in three different places. After my military hitch, we were often at my in-laws’ house in Dallas (or wherever they were at the time). In those years of having young children, whenever they were out of school, my wife usually wanted to visit her folks (and rightly so). Sometimes, of course, we visited my folks.

One year we were here, another year we were there — some years we stayed home and had relatives (occasionally friends) visiting us. So I don’t have a set of rich memories of any particular tradition.


The Non-Traditions

So let me take a moment to reflect on the Thanksgivings which stand out because they were unique — rather than traditional (in the sense of nearly everybody in the family gathered around).

One was my freshman year at Mercer University (GA) — Nov. 1968. Not enough money to fly home to Louisiana, but my mom’s cousin had a son at that same school. His folks got him to invite me to ride with him to AL, where I hooked up with his folks and another set of cousins.

Another was my tour of duty overseas, at remote Thule Air Base in N.W. Greenland (within the Arctic Circle) — Nov. 1972. Don’t recall much about any particular meal, but it was my first time away from my wife and young son. I probably went to the NCO Club and saw a USO show.

One year (possibly early 80s), for reasons I can’t recall now – but possibly my wife was working retail and couldn’t get away – she and our daughter stayed home, while I took our son to AL to visit my newly-relocated mother. I recall stopping along the way (probably somewhere along I-20 in MS) at a place like Shoney’s. Dave and I ate fairly traditional Thanksgiving fare – though he was a very picky eater – but the observance (and company) was anything but traditional.

One recent year, my wife and daughter (and her kids) drove from KY to LA to visit my son and his family. My mom was not able to travel anymore and I couldn’t leave her by herself, so I stayed behind. Having checked out the arrangements in advance, I made a late morning trip to the local IGA and picked up two plate lunches — turkey, dressing, taters, and everything else you’d expect. I brought those to my Mom’s cottage and we had a nice quiet dinner together. So I can’t claim I ever COOKED a Thanksgiving Dinner, but I surely did PROVIDE one.


What about YOU? Any special Thanksgiving traditions? Any Thanksgivings which stand out in your memory because of how DIFFERENT they were?

Previous Thanksgiving columns:

This one includes links to Thanksgiving columns of 2013, 2012, and a guest Fox on that day in 2011. In particular, please check out the link to 2012’s Thanksgiving column, because I’m talking about many of the wonderful people who have contributed to my writing experience.

JLS # 256




Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Popcorn, pretzels, and turkey?

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. While this year is a little off because it is the first year when I will not have all of my children here we did have our Thanksgiving dinner two weeks ago. We’ll still do our traditions but not the big dinner.

For the past five years (prior to this year) Thanksgiving has only been myself and my three children. I wanted to make sure it was fun for them. We always watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Six years ago I set out popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans, and some toast while the kids and I watched the Peanuts gang celebrate Thanksgiving. The kids thought it was so much fun to eat what Snoopy was preparing for dinner that it became a tradition for us.  While the turkey is cooking they would get to snack on those goodies.

The dinner has varied through the years as the kids’ palates have developed. I remember one year we had baked 8 pies but ended up keeping only 1 because the kids would not try any of them. My brothers did not mind though as they stopped by and took the goods home with them.

Our other tradition is the first movie of the Christmas season. Christmas movies are banned in my house (unless they are requested for a birthday movie or someone is sick and that is the ONLY thing they want to watch) because my kids and I would watch them all year if we could and I don’t want to get sick of them. From January 6th to Thanksgiving the movies are put in the back of a closet. Then when dessert is being served we get Rudolph out (the claymation one with Burl Ives). We settle down with our pie of choice and sing along to all of the songs. Then play the trivia game in the bonus features section.

This year we did Thanksgiving dinner two weeks early so all the kids would be there. We went to my parents’ house and cooked dinner. My daughter went up to my dad and hugged him. “Grandpa, would it be alright if we bring down Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving and Rudolph?”

Grandpa, in his gruff voice, “Why?”

Jess, “We watch Charlie Brown while dinner is cooking. Then after dinner we watch Rudolph with dessert.” She paused, glanced at the floor then back up at him with her large brown eyes. “It’s tradition.”

Grandpa with a hint of a smile, “Well, if it’s tradition you better bring them down.” He made sure that my kids got to watch their shows even though we celebrated two weeks early.

Tomorrow my two oldest children will still enjoy their popcorn, pretzels, and jellybeans and watch Charlie Brown. Though we don’t plan on having turkey again since we already did that.

Something New

This year on November first I set out a jar and some little colored slips of paper. I told my kids that every day of this month I want us to each write down at least one thing we’re thankful for and put it in the jar. At the end of the month (we’ll do it on Thanksgiving next year) we’ll dump all the paper out of it and read them. We’re having fun with this. Every day after school the kids sit down and write something down. I don’t even have to remind them to do it. They’ve already asked if we can do it again next year.

The Thankfulness jar is only in it’s first year but it will become a tradition.


Do you have any traditions? Is there an appetizer that you only get on Thanksgiving that you look forward to all year?


Happy Thankgiving from my family to yours!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Thanksgiving Tradition? What’s that?

The last Thanksgiving Tradition I remember was when I was little and within geographical reach of a bunch of relatives.  Every year we all gathered together and while the “grown-ups” visited, us kid cousins made mischief, um, had fun.  <:}>

THanksgiving Family Photo

Now that we are all grown and everyone (including my immediate family members) is wide-spread, I suppose the only Thanksgiving Tradition I have is the meal – Turkey with homemade Corn-Bread Dressing and all the trimmings – Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, Salads, pies…   And leftovers for days!  YUM!

After Thanksgiving

But as you probably know, after all my over-eating I need to work my AHEM off to burn all those unnecessary calories.  . .

female with dumbbells


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

But We’ve Always Done it THIS Way…

This week’s topic is Thanksgiving traditions. I looked up the word tradition because I wasn’t sure exactly what length of time a particular way of doing things had to exist before it became a tradition. Of course, none of my sources answered that question. Definitions like “a continuing pattern,” “a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting,” and “a customary or characteristic method” leave the time line open to debate. So I guess that’s a good thing, because it seems that just when we get comfortable doing things one way, things happen and we have to adjust to doing things a new way.

In my younger days, we always had a nice roast for Thanksgiving. My father didn’t like turkey, so we had beef. And we always had rice, because mom cooked and served rice with  every meal. We usually had a green vegetable, like broccoli or cucumber. It was mom and dad, my brothers, my grandmother and me – we didn’t have any other relatives on this continent. The next day, my friends and I would catch the bus into the city with our babysitting money and we’d start our Christmas shopping. I remember being more enchanted by the window displays than the items for sale. One of the large department stores had a miniature train that traveled on a track installed along the walls high above our heads and we’d watch it travel from room to room.

Cooked Turkey on Yellow Platter CloseupLater on, after we finally convinced Mom to take it easy, my husband took over the cooking. I cleaned the house and he’d take care of the food. We had a turkey, but in deference to Dad’s taste we also had a small roast or ham to go with it. There were plenty of people here, because in addition to mom and dad we had my husband’s kids and families as well as our children. Sometimes the kids would come before or after visiting other relatives, so we had people coming and going for most of the day. The television would be tuned to football games, and we’d either watch or nap. I always took the turkey carcass and put it in a stock pot to make soup (it’s one of the few things hubby lets me cook without his supervision). By this time, Black Friday shopping became more frenzied and I avoided it as much as possible. I’d use the rest of the long weekend to catch up on school work, projects around the house, or get started on Christmas projects.

Depositphotos_28944579_m-2015This year, my daughter has decided she wants to host Thanksgiving. She doesn’t care for turkey, so we’re having pork loin. We have been delegated to bring the stuffing and one pie (hubby will take care of those). It’ll be her family, hubby and me, our younger daughter and her boyfriend, and my mother. I don’t know what will happen the rest of the weekend, but my to-do list is pretty long right now, so I will have no trouble keeping myself occupied. Of course if mom or my daughters have other plans I’ll happily put the list away and deal with it later.

Over the years our Thanksgiving menu has changed, and the location has shifted, but the gathering of family has remained an important tradition that I hope will always stay in place. 

Posted in Patricia Kiyono, Shopping, traditions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Movie-ing Thanksgiving

It’s our monthly “Free Week” here at 4F,1H. Next week’s topic is “Thanksgiving”, since we will celebrate it on this coming Thursday. However, since I am The Friday Fox, the topic then will be  moot.

Few will be visiting here for my post next week,( from my experience), since many folks have family around, leftovers to deal with, places to clean and, yes, SALES to attend; I understand, really. Almost everyone will be getting into the Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year or other holiday modes; Thanksgiving season doesn’t last like Christmas does.
Thanksgiving, as we celebrate it in the United States and Canada,(where they celebrate it a month or so earlier, in the beginning of October), is as a religious or secular a holiday as anyone cares to make it.

Many people take the opportunity to attend services and formally thank God for their blessings, yet more people seem to simply have it in their hearts while they gather family and food, and probably just as many only use it only as a reason to join with family and friends for a good time and a feast…or one friend and a pizza, (even if that friend is their dog or cat.) Anyone of any creed can enjoy Thanksgiving.

But I know of few movies that center around this fun holiday.

I am quite a movie buff, in fact, if you see “MovieWatcher” logged in on Xbox Live, that is me. The only movies that I can think of that are truly about Thanksgiving are “What’s Cooking?”, “The Thanksgiving Visitor” and “Avalon”.
“What’s Cooking?” is a mixed bag, a fair movie with adult themes that involve four families in Los Angeles: An African-American family, a Jewish family, a Hispanic family and a Vietnamese-American family. It had great promise, but it could have been a lot better.

“The Thanksgiving Visitor” is based on a Truman Capote short story, a memoir of his childhood. If you only know the parody of himself that he became before he died, or that he is the author of ‘In Cold Blood”, you need to know that Capote could really write, and the movie is a good one.

But “Avalon” is by far my favorite. It is centered around many years of Thanksgivings in the lives of a Jewish immigrant family and their American children and grandchildren. Their growth in business, their first homes in the inner city to moves to the suburbs, and how one act, one simple act, can mean everything to one person and cause a fissure in a heart and a family. It may make others have a little more patience and realize that a few moments can mean the world to another, or break another’s heart, depending on the acts of those around them.

(It can also remind a person that insurance is not the place to cut in a budget!)

The members’ contradicting each other and repeated memories through the years are so warmly typical of any family where generations often gather around a table that I certainly hope some of today’s children experience such scenes. I fear that most do not. It’s such a loss.

So, if you just need to relax and finish the leftovers, you can see Avalon online to rent from Amazon, or perhaps from other venues online, a local video store or your library.

Or come to my house. I haven’t run it lately…and I will have a lot of leftovers!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Posted in blessings, Family, free week, Friendship, helping others, inspiration, Life, movies, New Year, Tonette Joyce | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Stuck on Cloud Eight

Stuck on Cloud Eight

By J. L. Salter

My newest novel — released Nov. 16.

Romantic comedy that’s high in the sky. $3.99.

Stuck on Cloud-8-front-final

Two FIVE-star Amazon reviews in its first three days!

As Stuck On Cloud Eight proves, J.L. Salter is a master of the humorous romance. Working at a chiropractor’s office, Keri Winter knows how to handle a man who comes in for treatment: professionally and cold—colder than the electrodes she attaches to his bare skin in the treatment room. Rusty Battle heats her up (quite literally) the moment they touch, when a static charge of electricity jolts their fingertips. Twice. But heated up or not, she’s not in the market for a man, so she tries to shut him out of both her imagination and her treehouse. Getting through Keri’s emotional minefield is no easy task, especially for a man in cowboy boots, so Rusty steps (and missteps) verrrry carefully. You can read Stuck On Cloud Eight for the humor and be touched by the romance. (That’s me.) Or read it for the romance and be tickled by the humor. (Come to think of it, that’s me, too.) It’s a fast read because it’s fun.
By Randy Reynolds on November 17, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition  Verified Purchase
* * * * *
Keri is a nice young lady that has been hurt, Rusty is a handsome young man that wants to get to know her better.
What a beautiful romance. loved it. Had to keep reading to see what he was going to do next to win her heart. He sure had a great imagination.
Nice clean (no sex) fun read. This book is suitable for all ages – I would recommend it for young adults/teens. I normally do not read romance books. but Jeff Salter has me hooked on his.
Looking forward to more of Mr Salter’s adventures.
By ruffy on November 18, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition  Verified Purchase
* * * * *


Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Preparing for Winter

Winter is coming and I’m getting ready for it. The kitchen is stocked and all the winter garments are clean. With the first snowfall of the year less than a week away (according to the forecast) and the possibility of another next week it is time to be ready for long days and nights indoors.

Last week my parents sent their Cafe Cocoa machine home with me.

Me: “You’re giving it to me?”

Mom: “I never use it. Every time you come over you and the kids have hot chocolate already.”

Me: “Yeah, but you can never have too much hot chocolate.”

Mom: “Take it home and use it.” Then she handed me a bag full of chocolate and marshmallows. It has already been used to make S’mores hot chocolate, cookies ‘n’ cream hot chocolate, and mint hot chocolate.

My closet has a bag full of glue, glitter, cotton swabs, pasta, thread, and puzzles. The Q-tips and glitter will make snowflakes which we’ll use to decorate. The puzzles are to be gifts from my youngest to family members for Christmas. He picked out ones he thought would be liked (wolves for me, horses for sister, Star Wars for his brother) he said he wants to put them in frames. We’ll do this when it is too cold or snowy to go out. The pasta will be used to make garland.

Lastly is my tablet and book shelves. They’re stocked full of books to read. Several books I haven’t read yet and a few favorites that I’ll read again. I just started on my pile of Christmas books. I look forward to snowy days and nights where I can curl up and read.


Do you do anything to get ready for winter?

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments