A Holiday Tradition
By Craig Baldo


Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated throughout America. Specific customs vary from family to family. In my family (as well as in many other families I’m sure), we celebrate Thanksgiving by getting together and flying to Palestine. I cannot remember in my life, even as a young boy, a Thanksgiving not spent in the Middle East. Even today, as the autumn days shorten and the leaves begin to change color, I can just smell the Palestinians in the air. I really start getting giddy the day after Halloween because from then on it's clear sailing to Thanksgiving, which of course means one thing.. Palestine!

My family is very close. Heritage is important. That's the way Christian Welsh-Americans are. And when a tradition like going to Palestine for Thanksgiving is handed down through generations, well we keep that tradition alive and it brings us closer. After my great, great, great grandparents left Wales and settled in America, they decided to celebrate the holidays indigenous to their new land, and Thanksgiving was no exception. The call to Palestine was heard.

Why Palestine? A question I bet most of you don’t know the answer to. You know you go there on Thanksgiving, you just don't know why. Well I know, and I’ll tell you. Cranberry sauce. Palestinians make the best cranberry sauce in the Middle East - in the world! For years, Palestinians have been known for two things: war with Jews and cranberry sauce. It's delicious. Something they do to the cranberries before chilling them. I think they boil them with orange zest. Zest is very popular in Palestinian cuisine. They also use zest to make small bombs.

Cranberry sauce holds any meal together. Arafat knew it. My great, great, great grandfather knew it. So why, Grandpa thought, compromise a meal that celebrates the Indians discovering America by eating some cheap, canned American cranberry sauce? Why not travel to a land famous for gourmet cranberry sauce? If turkey was the meal linchpin, Grandpa would have taken the family to Turkey, but he knew that cranberry sauce was it, and that IT was in Palestine. Still is. And don’t get me wrong. I love Israel. I would just never go there for Thanksgiving. That would be like going to Finland for Arbor Day. Duh!

So this Thanksgiving, if you’re not already among the enlightened, and you truly want to give thanks for the great stuff in your life like the DVD player in your car and Montel Williams then take that path over the river and through the woods, but before you hit grandma’s house, take a left, and don’t stop until you reach the beautiful cranberry fields of Palestine or that big wall the Jews are building.

Craig Baldo is a stand-up comedian and writer.