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Nontraditional Thanksgiving Stories Shared

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

A few weeks ago, we asked you, our listeners, to share some nontraditional Thanksgiving traditions with us, special family rituals that have become part of the holiday, and boy, did we get stories.

(Soundbite of film, "Star Wars")

(Soundbite of holo-projector)

Ms. CARRIE FISHER (Actor): (As Princess Leia Organa) Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

Mr. MARK HAMILL (Actor): (As Luke Skywalker) What's this?

(Soundbite of R2-D2)

Mr. ANTHONY DANIELS (Actor): (As C-3PO) What is what? He asked you a question. What is that?

Ms. FISHER: (As Leia) Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

BLOCK: The force will be with Kate Baumgardt(ph) and her family in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, on Thanksgiving tomorrow. It's a habit they started in 1995, after their big meal.

Kate writes: We decided to watch the entire "Star Wars" trilogy while we digested. We did the same the following year and the one after that. Before we knew it, our friends were spending all Thanksgiving in my parents' basement, watching the films.

As time went on, people married, more films were made, but we are still there, en masse, watching as many of the films as we can, crowded but content.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: The tradition for Nancy Feehrer's(ph) family in Massachusetts has gone from bad to verse. Every year, family members of all ages exchange Thanksgiving poems. Some weave in current events, kids may write about the nasty food tricks at the children's table.

Ms. NANCY FEEHRER: They started about six years ago. My brother-in-law gets a coupon for a free turkey every year from his work, and one year, the turkey coupon was late in coming and we didn't know whether we should purchase the turkey, if we were going to miss out on turkeys altogether if we waited, and all these emails were flying back and forth, and then at some point, Scott(ph) turned his into a poem, and that's what set us off.

NORRIS: By tomorrow, the Feehrers will have printed out more than 30 poems from this year, including this one inspired by our phone call, read by Nancy's mother-in-law, Barbara Feehrer(ph).

Ms. BARBARA FEEHRER: (Reading) Oh dear, Mandalit(ph), our innocent little poetry game has led to a moment of fame. Thanks to the VonHoffman(ph) bird, who initially spawned all these words, we're now to become stars, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, NPR? Pull out your red pens, lest the family be in for a fall.

The holidays are coming fast now, pies to bake, leaves to rake, and before long, that snow to plow. Now, of course, these rhymes to make. We're grateful for our 15 minutes and for dear Nan, who got us in it.

BLOCK: It was a dog named Chloe(ph) who inspired this next unusual family tradition. Becca Hutchinson(ph) of Wilmington, Delaware, stepped up to confess. The ritual involves a wayward green vegetable.

Ms. BECCA HUTCHINSON: Every Thanksgiving that we have Thanksgiving dinner at my mother's, my brother and I make sure to cook Brussels sprouts and drop one on the floor before putting it back in the pot.

BLOCK: Intentionally, you're dropping it on the floor.

Ms. HUTCHINSON: Intention, yes.

BLOCK: And why is that?

Ms. HUTCHINSON: Well, the tradition comes from childhood, when a sprout mistakenly fell to the floor and was bitten into by our dog before I deliberately put it back into the dish, slobber and all, and carried it to the table.

BLOCK: You put it back in the dish because you wanted somebody to have to eat that thing?

Ms. HUTCHINSON: I did. I was hoping my brother would get it, but he didn't, and actually, by the time the dish made its way around the table back to me, the sprout was still in it, the tainted sprout, and it was one of two or three left, and I later learned that everybody at the table knew about it and could see the tooth marks, but I didn't know that they knew about it.

BLOCK: That Brussels sprout, with the slobber and the tooth marks, would have contaminated the entire dish, Becca, right?

Ms. HUTCHINSON: You'd think it would contaminate the whole dish, but sprouts are pretty integral. They're not, like, spinach. You know, they kind of keep their shape and they're all molecules to themselves.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Well, that's your story, and you're sticking to it.

Ms. HUTCHINSON: That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

BLOCK: So now, the tradition is alive. You drop a sprout on the floor, put it back in the dish and don't tell anybody.

Ms. HUTCHINSON: We do.

BLOCK: So somebody's eating that sprout.

Ms. HUTCHINSON: Yes, somebody's eating that. We live dangerously in my family. We're dog lovers, and I guess we don't really care.

BLOCK: Or you have a very clean kitchen floor.

Ms. HUTCHISON: Not really.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: That's Becca Hutchinson of Wilmington, Delaware, talking about her family's tradition of dropping one Brussels sprout on the floor and then returning it to the serving dish.

We'll have more nontraditional Thanksgiving traditions sent in by listeners on the program tomorrow and Friday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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