By John Griffin
Ok, so I had to get up early… Not like early early, but, it was earlier than a 12-year-old kid wanted to get up on a day home from school. Aside from that, I can literally recall no bad memories from my childhood years celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. Mom had cooked all night. Dad was actually taking a day off from work. And me, well, I would definitely be skipping breakfast to make sure my tummy had ample room for all the grub I was about to take down. We lived in a small country town. I assume it was very similar to the vibe of Burleson circa 1989. I was in charge of packing an extra pair of jeans, my rifle, and a football. These were the things I considered of utmost importance!
Recently, I did a little asking around town to some of the locals that remember Thanksgiving in Burleson from days of past. You know, back before the Internet, satellite TV, and an utter and complete reliance on smart phones. What was it like “back in the day” I wondered? There was no Cracker Barrel to cater your meals. There was no super-explosive Black Friday sale starting at 5:00 at Best Buy. And, there was definitely not making of excuses because you got the short straw and had to go into work that day to meet that important deadline, or serve said Cracker Barrel meal. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with how it is today. I just sometimes like to sit and reminisce on how it was back then.
Here’s the skinny on what I learned about Burleson during the holidays from yesteryear. Not much different than today, football was all the buzz. High school and Dallas Cowboy football ruled the day. I listened to stories of holiday window decorating contests between the businesses in Old Town. I traveled back in time as people told me stories of having a “big” shopping outing at Mott’s Five & Dime! But mostly, I heard stories of family. Times were certainly simpler. Family was at the heart of the holidays around this neck of the woods, as I imagine it was in most corners of our country. Not to say that it isn’t still about family today, but I imagine the pace of back then was just a little slower – better. I would be thrilled if any or all of you would share a story of your local memories from this area on our Facebook page over the next 2 months. It’s nice to go back in your memory bank, and I promise you’ll take others with you by sharing.
Back to my memory. You probably get why I grabbed a football. But, why an extra pair of jeans and a rifle? The jeans were obviously to change into after my cousins and I ransacked each other with that football in the front yard. Mom didn’t like me at the dinner table (in front of family no less) with grass-stained knees on my pants. The rifle, well, this was a little family tradition that we followed for a few years that gave me the greatest joy. After dinner and a little football, both watching and playing, the men would all head out to the family farm. We were on a mission to find the perfect Christmas tree. Meanwhile, the girls would all stay back at my grandmother’s house making homemade ornaments for the fine specimen we were to return with. Upon arrival at the farm, the first order of business was to have a highly competitive contest of beer-can target shooting. This was for bragging rights for the year and was taken very seriously. Trust me, I remember the year I won! Talk about glowing at family gatherings for the next 12 months – it was awesome. Once the winner had claimed victory, we were off to drive through the pastures and hand saw the perfect tree. Loaded and back to Honey’s (this is what we called my grandmother), it was time for pie and the decorating of the tree. The satisfaction and pure joy that came to all of us, together as a family, smiling on our Christmas tree creation, after a day of Thanksgiving was truly priceless. It will last with me forever.
Of course, the all-stars of the day were no doubt the massive displays of home-cooked meals and desserts that lined the kitchen and dining room. For whatever reason, we just don’t eat like we do on Thanksgiving any other time of the year. Christmas comes close, but Thanksgiving – whoa baby! In that spirit, keep reading below as some of our locals share their favorite holiday recipes. And, from my family and I, here’s wishing you a slower and heart-filled holiday season!