Contributed by RL Its that time of year when our families gather together from far and near. The weather is just about right, crisp in the mornings and cool in the afternoons. The Aspen trees have changed colors and have mostly lost their leaves in our area and the smell of pine trees is clear in the air with folks starting up their wood stoves to warm the home in order to push back the frost. New recipes are being tried before everyone comes for that day when turkeys and football rule the day. Thanksgiving, since 1621, when the giving of thanks and sharing the bounties that had been provided from God was shared between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag has become a national tradition. Even today it is still a time for families to gather together once more to strengthen the bond between brother, sister, mother, father and friends who's common bond of family and community who give thanks by sharing the blessings provided from above. Of course no one is sure that the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag actually shared turkey for that first great meal. But we do know that turkeys were plentiful in the area and were hunted for food by the Pilgrims. ( Nevertheless in 1863 President Lincoln nationalized the Thanksgiving Holiday ensuring a time for the giving of thanks to all Americans, by this time the turkey was well established as the favorite main dish for the new Thanksgiving holiday. I don't know about you but turkey is one of those things that is a must for our Thanksgiving meal. Of course there are food items that I like which have been carried over from my family, like cranberry sauce and candied yams. Items from my wife's family are pies, you name it they had them, and hot rolls just to name a few. I am sure your family has its favorites for the Thanksgiving dinner as well. ( Even in the early days (1887) of our country, the White House celebrated Thanksgiving with a great feast of a meal consisting of turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, baked squash, boiled onions, cream of chicken soup, olives, chicken salad, pastry, pies, cakes and ice cream. I was reading that even during the depression when they had the Civilian Conservation Corps ( operating, that those men who worked hard to build many of the things that benefit us today, had Thanksgiving dinner served to them which included: olives, roasted turkey, hot rolls, fruit salad, asparagus, dressing, gravy, apples, fish, potatoes, oyster stew, pie, cooked carrots, celery and even candies. I guess the government knew the way to a man's heart (just like the women) back then. Just the thoughts of these meals have made me hungry and ready to eat! The largest burden for our own home cooked meal rests with my wife who is always excited about the children coming and visiting. She plans the meal well in advance sharing the responsibility of cooking with different children by assigning out pies to some, salads to others, stuffing, gravy, potatoes to a few more and of course the Turkey is our job. I am the assistant cook doing what ever needs to be done in the kitchen but tasting the finished product; I think I have it down pat. If you have a favorite side dish to go along with that turkey send us a response telling us what it is or if you have something other than turkey we would love to hear from you. Of course we all have our traditions for Thanksgiving. I asked around what some of those traditions that others do here and found there are those who gather for the big meal on Thanksgiving and visit as a family then the next day the women of the family do the Black Friday ( shopping thing usually starting around 5 am so they can go to as many stores as they can before they go out to lunch. Another says her family will go trap shooting as one of their activities. Another co-worker says they like to go and see a movie. No matter what the tradition, this time of the year seems to be the time to kick off the Holiday season. One of our family traditions is to get a tree permit from the forest service and head up to find that perfect Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. The mountains near our home often have snow, some years it is deep (pushing the bumper of the truck) and other years it is only a couple of inches. The event is loved by all the grandchildren and children alike. More so by the grandchildren since it is more work now for our grown children. They are beginning to see the work that goes into getting a tree but that work does not compare to the beauty of the mountains and the sparkling snow and clean crisp air which is well worth the effort as you move from tree to tree to find just the right tree to bring home. After treading in the deep snow and getting worn down and finding the tree there is always hot chocolate for all to warm up and a quick nap for me while the children visit. One thing is for certain you need to bundle up in coats and insulated boots because it is cold ( and you do not want to feel miserable while out hunting for that tree. Traditions are strong and in truth it is just plain fun to go hunting Christmas trees in the wild; every family should at least do it once. But be warned it is a lot of work especially when the snow gets deep. I would guess one could also hunt out those live wild turkeys for their dinner but I have seen some of those wild turkeys and they can move when they want to. After getting a tree that does not move as quickly, the store bought turkey sounds a lot better. If these things do not hit the spot for your Thanksgiving plans then come and join us here in Idaho there are lots of things to do in the coming weeks. ( And if it snows you can bet that I will be out in the front yard building a snowman for all to see. 'Till next time RL