A tradition unlike any other

Note: This column appears in the 11/26 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 11/28 issue of the Peoria Times

Thanksgiving traditions tend to change over the years.

My wife and I inadvertently initiated this holiday alteration when we decided to move here to Arizona all the way from New Jersey. And let me tell you something: Thanksgiving is quite different when you don’t eat meat and your family is thousands of miles away.

Back home, our tradition had always been this: Breakfast with my parents, then we’d spend the next few hours trapped in our car on the Outerbridge Crossing trying to get into Staten Island to see my wife’s uncle and the rest of the family for dinner, then back to NJ to my aunt’s house for dessert and our regular game of “which cousin got the drunkest?” It was always a busy day, but one of the best. My wife’s favorite, in fact.

Last year was slightly different. We simply couldn’t travel back home for both holidays, so we knew we’d be on our own. We wanted to make the best of it, so we decided to spend Thanksgiving in Sedona. The night before we left, we were lucky enough to get free tickets to see the early 90s hip-hop trio of Bell Biv Devoe in concert in downtown Phoenix. If your Thanksgiving holiday doesn’t start with Bell Biv Devoe, then you are doing something wrong. It’s how the Pilgrims did it. You can look it up.

We'd like to give a shout-out to all our peeps on the Mayflower...this next joint's for you. Hit it!
Do me babyyyy...

Thanksgiving in Sedona was beautiful, but bittersweet. We were accustomed to a loud, raucous, delicious dinner in which my wife’s uncle busted our chops for two hours straight for not eating meat, yet went out of his way to make us salmon on the side. In Sedona, we were the only two people sitting in a nice restaurant for an early dinner, eating our salmon without anyone making fun of us while we laughed to ourselves wondering what the family was up to.

As much as we missed our family, a funny thing happened over the course of the past year. When we realized that this year would present a similar situation for the holidays, we found ourselves really looking forward to our new “tradition” of spending Thanksgiving with each other in Sedona. When a Coldplay concert at Jobing.com Arena we had purchased tickets for way back in June got pushed back to the night before Thanksgiving, we knew our holiday formula of concert-then-Sedona was meant to be. Sure, maybe it’s a little untraditional. But it’s our tradition.

We even added one more guest to our new Thanksgiving tradition: our dog Mac. We’re now staying at a pet-friendly hotel in Sedona, and it should be interesting to find a restaurant open on Thanksgiving that not only serves fish, but that will let our dog join us. This will probably lead to all three of us eating our holiday meal outside of a Long John Silvers in 40-degree weather while we laugh to ourselves wondering what the family is up to.

Holiday traditions change all the time, whether due to marriage, people moving away, kids being born, or whatever. Adjusting to these changes is often difficult. But the one constant remains, and that is that we all have a lot to be thankful for. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to prepare for the holidays by packing some dog food and getting ready to enjoy some live British soft rock. I’m sure you’ll be doing the same.