Thanksgiving Traditions

US Wealth Napolitano |

By: Tom Fletcher, CFP®

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving this year. If you celebrated in New England, I’m sure this one will be remembered for a long time as one of the coldest (and windiest) ever. In years past I used to fire up the barbecue and cook our turkey on the gas grill. Thank goodness we deviated from our usual routine. Otherwise I might still be standing outside trying to get that bird up to 165º. In fact this year the Fletcher family did a complete menu overhaul and instead of cooking the traditional turkey, we opted instead for chicken breasts (cooked indoors). I know that sounds sacrilegious for many, but with all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings on the side, having a couple of tasty chickens turned out to be pretty much perfect for the relatively small gathering of four who partook in our feast.

I’m sure I’m not alone in my adoration for the well-designed Thanksgiving holiday. I think what makes it so special is the ability to bring families together at the dinner table for a fairly lengthy amount of time without a bunch of distractions. In our case, the meal typically lasts a few hours from start to finish. Afterwards I like to find a warm dark corner in the house, grab a few zzz’s and then go after some more food before the day ends. It’s not great for the waistline, but very enjoyable while participating. The leftovers in the days that follow are of course always a nice added benefit as well.

It seems like all that peace and quiet quickly dissipates once Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday rolls around. Did I forget a few more labeled shopping days? Is it just me or does there seem to be more and more focus on this as the years go by? It could be just a marketing gimmick, but I confess I was impressed when I heard that REI closed their doors (and website) for Black Friday and gave their employees the day off to spend time with their families. Maybe we’ll see more of this going forward, because it seemed to garner a lot of positive attention this year.

Well, instead of wrestling with other Black Friday shoppers, we chose to decorate our usual gingerbread houses along with a yummy brunch at 75 Chestnut, a local neighborhood restaurant. This has turned out to be a longstanding tradition for our family as I think we’ve been doing this for the past ten years or so. Even though the houses are already assembled when we arrive, when I modify these things, it always seems to hammer home the point of why I never chose a career as a builder. Basically all my projects would have been condemned. Maybe it’s something to do with the fact that some of my critical building materials wind up being ingested before they are used? 

The last Thanksgiving weekend tradition is the ceremonial cutting of our Christmas tree. Yup, it’s early, perhaps embarrassingly so. However the Christmas tree farm out in Beverly is only opened one weekend a year which happens to be post-Thanksgiving. When we make that 40 minute drive back to the city my eyes are always peeled for a kindred vehicle who also has a Christmas tree strapped to their roof top. And just like past years, this year I didn’t see a one.