Tradition, or How a Squirrel Came to Define our Thanksgiving

Many people are curious about the squirrel mold we use for our cranberry sauce. This is a post that I wrote about it–I guess when I first began my blog. For the very first time, my mom won’t be with us at the table this Thanksgiving.

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

In the opening monologue of Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye, the Jewish milkman with five daughters who lives in a Russian shetl called Anatevka, says, “You may ask, how did this tradition start? I’ll tell you. I don’t know. But it’s a tradition.” I suspect most people seldom think about how for every tradition there had to have been a first time it took place—before it was a tradition.  Most of us never consider how a tradition started.  There are many different types of traditions. There are all encompassing cultural and religions traditions, destructive traditions that label particular groups or people as inferior and deny them rights, and there are fun cultural traditions. Groups of friends and families also have their traditions.

In my family, the cranberry sauce squirrel is one of our most cherished traditions. Every Thanksgiving the squirrel makes his appearance on our table . . .except for…

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26 thoughts on “Tradition, or How a Squirrel Came to Define our Thanksgiving

  1. What a great story to share, Merril. I’m sorry to hear your mother won’t be at your table. That’s difficult, I know. Maybe you all can share memories of her and past Thanksgivings. I remember my mother getting up at 4:00 a.m. every Thanksgiving to put the turkey in the oven. This morning when I called my mother, like I do each day at 7:00 a.m., she asked if I was in my “cubby.” That’s what she calls my office cubicle. It’s really hard, but I thank God for all of the wonderful memories. Wishing you and your family a blessed holiday, Merril. xo

  2. Might be the best Thanksgiving feast story yet! Your mother (younger) must have been spontaneous and playful … as well as more coordinated than some of us … to succeed with that head maneuver!

    • Thank you, Sheila. My mom is still alive, and other family members will be with her today. She’s just not able to manage going out now. On the plus side, I’ll have both of my daughters and their spouses here today.

  3. I love this, Merril. Traditions become traditions when we strive to repeat them year after year and they become cherished when it continues for more than a generation. What a wonderful Thanksgiving story.

  4. This is a hinge celebration for you, which makes it important. Hang onto the traditions, especially the ones that are so obscure nobody can really remember where they started.
    I realise I haven’t been getting notifications from you—that’s the second post in a row.

  5. A bittersweet holiday. The empty chair, the unfilled space.
    My older daughter is the keeper of things being just the way they have always been. But we have no squirrel mold, alas. (K)

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