If you haven't thrown a flaming turkey through the air, then you haven't celebrated Thanksgiving in Bloomington, IN.
"It's very dramatic," said Doug Ballad, the father of the modern-day Flaming Turkey Toss. "It looks like a shooting star going through the sky."
Hundreds of folks turn out for the annual turkey day event making it one of the nation's most combustible traditions.
From the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to more Turkey Trots than I care to count, this holiday is all about tradition. And most of that tradition originates in the kitchen -- deep fried turkey, cranberry sauce, my Aunt Sue's pineapple stuffing -- sweet mercy! But the folks at O'Casey's Tavern may have the strangest menu -- a 100-proof bird. They've been soaking turkeys in fruit flavored vodka. The pickled turkeys will be served with a side of ginned-up giblets -- that way you can have gravy shots along with your dressing. Whoever would have thought? You don't need cranberries to get sauced!
The ultimate authority on Thanksgiving Day cuisine is my favorite chef in the world -- Paula Deen. She dropped by the newsroom the other day and we had a chance to talk turkey about turkey --- and butter.
As is proper protocol in the South, Paula gave me two giant bear hugs and called me "Sugar."
"Thanksgiving is like my favorite holiday," said Paula. "Thanksgiving is just about family, the food, the friends and the fun of being together."
And rest assured, there will be more butter than turkey on Paula's table.
"Ain't nothing better than southern cooking, baby."
She's got that right! My mom's cooking certainly made Thanksgiving memorable around our house. I would wake up to the smell of cinnamon -- a sure sign that mom was making her world-famous sweet potato pies. I love sweet potato pie and to this day -- every time I catch a whiff of cinnamon in the air, I think back to those Thanksgiving mornings of long ago.
I suppose that's what traditions are really all about -- making memories -- memories that will last a lifetime. Why else would you light a turkey on fire? Our traditions are about as different as cornbread dressing and stuffing.
Quirky? You bet.
But every single memory is uniquely American. It's about family. It's about friends. It's about a faith that brings us together around dinner tables to give thanks -- to the One from whom all blessings flow.
So from my family to yours -- Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.