Thanksgiving traditions change, but their purpose doesn't

Published 8:30 am Thursday, November 16, 2017

It’s kind of hard to believe that Thanksgiving is next week; that time when we sit down with family and friends, enjoy a big dinner and sit down on the sofa to watch football and somewhere between the first and second quarters fall asleep when the tryptophan from the seven helpings of turkey kicks in.

With my family split between here and Norcross, Ga., and because in my business the news never stops and working on Thanksgiving Day becomes a sort of habit, the big family gathering we had in my younger days are no more.

I can remember growing up when Thanksgiving meant either my father’s family or my great aunts on my mother’s side would come for the holiday, causing a shift in sleeping accommodations and longer lines for the one bathroom we had in the house. We had big dinners then, with my mother presiding over the kitchen and defying anyone to enter without permission. Mom was a one-person culinary staff, assisted only by my maternal grandmother, who was the only one allowed to enter the kitchen and help with the meal.

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In my younger days, Thanksgiving meant getting up to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Greenjeans and Mr. Moose talking about the floats. That was followed by dinner and then a mass exodus to the den, where we watched the traditional matchup between Green Bay and the Detroit Lions. In my house, we were Green Bay fans. Jimmy Taylor, a star running back at LSU, formed a running back tandem with Paul Hornung, and Bart Starr was at quarterback.

Green Bay-Detroit was usually followed by Texas-Texas A&M. My father’s family hated Texas A&M, and I’ve carried on the family tradition. There’s something about Aggies that just grates me the wrong way. Besides, how can you like a team with a fight song that sounds like the Yogi Bear theme song?

Those Thanksgivings past are now a memory, and the family doesn’t get together to celebrate Turkey Day like we used to. It’s been several years since my wife, our daughter and I have been able to go to Georgia for Thanksgiving, and it’s been a while since my family has joined us in our home for the feast.

We still watch the parade, and I still watch football, although I don’t watch the NFL, and it’s not because the players are kneeling. I stopped watching the NFL years ago in favor of college football.

I have to work the holiday, and because my daughter works in retail, she has to work the holiday. But for a brief period on Thanksgiving, the three of us take the time to sit down and share meal together before we have to go our separate ways.

That is the tradition that stays. I have the memories of past Thanksgivings, and the joy of being with my wife and daughter, even for a short time, and that is what I appreciate most.