It is Thanksgiving Day — a day filled with traditions for families and friends. I will miss my family this holiday, but I intend to enjoy the day with others of my ilk, whose families are committed elsewhere and we will share traditions.

It is Thanksgiving Day — a day filled with traditions for families and friends. I will miss my family this holiday, but I intend to enjoy the day with others of my ilk, whose families are committed elsewhere and we will share traditions.

Most of us celebrate Thanksgiving with the traditional turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.

This Thanksgiving marks the fifth holiday without my mother and the ninth without my dad. Both were connoisseurs of the meal and had honed their holiday meal skills to perfection.

For years, I begged for a change in the menu — I lobbied for lobster, because as I said, the Pilgrims must’ve had lobster — and by the time Thanksgiving rolled around what with all the work dinners and special events … well, I was sick of turkey.

But guess what? While turkey was probably on the first Thanksgiving menu, it wasn’t all the pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians shared on that first occasion almost 400 years ago.

They had a feast alright, but much of our traditional menu items were probably not on the table in 1621. The Wampanoag liked venison, so legend has it they brought five deer to share. Indeed, wild turkey and pheasant were both plentiful in New England and were on the table along with lobster, seal and swans. It was basically a menu of meat, fish and corn.

Maybe that’s what prompted comedian George Carlin to announce a menu change one year.

"We're having something a little different this year for Thanksgiving. Instead of a turkey, we're having a swan,” Carlin quipped. “You get more stuffing."

By the way, sweets were not a part of the first Thanksgiving meal either, because the Pilgrims had probably run out of sugar by that time. But they did have corn and plums, so they made do. They probably ate stewed pumpkins, too, and they had chestnuts as a treat.

Anyway, my lobster request was never granted. We always had turkey on Thanksgiving — always. And it was delicious and the tradition and a family affair.

Dad got up at the crack of dawn or before and buttered up and seasoned the turkey, put it in the pan and got the baster ready to squirt juice on the bird in the coming several hours.

Oh, and he always pulled out all the giblets and merrily began the most important job of all — the gravy. He had it down to a science and he babied it all day.

Dad was the pie-maker and the day before, he would make the crust like his mother made, also a science, and would fashion a pecan and an apple pie. Plus, while he was playing around with the dough late at night or early in the morning, he was also known to whip up some homemade biscuits.

Meanwhile Mom was a Thanksgiving Day prepper extraordinaire — she prepared cornbread and cut up the veggies for the dressing the night before. We did have a little seafood in the mix, because Mom always made plain and oyster dressing. Wonder if the Pilgrims put oysters in their dressing?

Plus, she made yeast rolls from scratch and by 8 a.m. they were rising. Her favorite Jell-O salad (either orange or green) with pecans and cottage cheese was already jelling in the fridge along with the cranberry sauce.

Barring any disasters such as lumps in the gravy or burnt rolls (if that ever happened I blocked it), we ate promptly at 2 p.m. with a beautifully set table.

Mom required us to dress too — no jeans at the Thanksgiving table —  we had to get dolled up. And before we all dug in, we joined hands and went around the table to say what we were thankful for.

This year, as I gather with friends we will do the same and carry on family traditions from my family and others. This year, I will be thankful for a year of healing, for my daughters and my sister and her family. One of my daughters has just moved to Philadelphia, PA. and my other is in Austin, so I will be praying for them and their success. Today, I’m thankful for those memories of Thanksgivings gone by - I miss you Mom and Dad.

And as families gather today around the table, I pray for peaceful gatherings. Given the events of recent weeks, there may be some family members who do not share the same views - but remember the reason for this day and be humble and thankful. Talk of politics should be banned from the dinner table.

And this year, I'm honoring my family traditions and having turkey and dressing because unfortunately I missed all the delicious community dinners in Ballinger and Winters the last few weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Celinda Hawkins is the managing editor of the Ballinger Ledger/Winters Enterprise. She can be reached at 325-365-3501or at