Thursday, November 26, 2009

In Praise of Strange Traditions

I have much to be thankful for: my wife and child, a house to keep them safe, and entertaining brouhahas between my dogs and cats; a spiffy set of friends; and a good publishing deal that represents a dream come true for me.

But on the day itself, I think I'm most thankful for the strange traditions of my family. I have no idea how they started, but part of me doesn't really want to know. I'd rather enjoy the mystery and oddity of it all.

Here's what we do: we go out to the McDowell Mountain Preserve north of Fountain Hills and have our full turkey dinner out there, on stone picnic tables, amongst the Saguaros and the Palo Verdes and the teddy bear cholla. Now this dinner is all-out, mind you, there's nothing missing: we have the gravy, we have the sweet potato thing with the marshmallows on it, and several homemade pies are on hand for dessert. It just has this potluck feel to it since everybody brings something and it's not all cooked in one kitchen, plus there's the whole paper plate thing.

After the dinner we all hike up Lone Mountain to burn maybe 300 of the 5,000 calories we consume, and then comes the topper: we string a rope over a Palo Verde branch and beat the crap out of a pinata. This is simply inexplicable to me and I love it. I remember doing it when I was a kid, and now I watch my daughter do it and I'm telling you, it's a really good time.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday simply because my family has managed to stray far, far away from the Hollywood-packaged motif of sitting around grandfather's table and squabbling about this and that. We have a freakin' picnic among plants that want to stab us and nobody does the dishes! We're Bohemians! We're fightin' the Power! Stickin' it to the Man! We're On the Bus!

I hope y'all are happy and safe and thankful for this fortunate life we're living.

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