Did you ever hear a Thanksgiving song? Didn’t think so. I often wonder why that is. Years ago, the Texas Troubadour, George Strait, included a song on his Christmas Strait to You album. The song was “It’s Christmas Time in Texas” and with Strait’s honky-tonk voice and good ol’ Texas Swing beat, the lyrics and notes sounded just great. It is quite possible that “Turkey Time in Texas” could also be a hit and start a new holiday song tradition.
Halloween came and went and as usual with much frolicking and fun, especially in the LGBTQ community. Rumors was alive and kicking with a fantastic crowd and costume contest (yours truly, along with Matt Hannon — not “Hammond” — won second place as Baby Jane Hudson and coat-hanger sister Joan Crawford). Debbie Kepi Boyd kept the patrons happy with an innovative bingo game and karaoke with some excellent talent being displayed — Kyle and Christin sang their hearts out…and in.
Meanwhile, over at Robert’s Lafitte, the party was rolling. Still in their Rocky Horrible fever pitch, the joint was hopping and the drinks were flowing. Some in costume and some clearly enjoying the Halloween “mood” made Lafitte’s the late night stop for celebrating.
The first weekend of the month, Galveston came alive with the annual roar of motorcycles as the Lone Star Rally rolled onto the Island and took over. The sounds of revving cycles and non-ending parades around the Strand area made for a wonderful weekend. The weather cooperated and the crowds were huge. Galvetraz “know-it-alls” estimate the Island was visited by more than 500 thousand bikers, making the Rally the second largest, behind Sturgis. For four days the Island becomes a wild, leather-clad, cigar-smoking, hell-raising, beer-drinking, lusty adventure. This is the time of the year when gay boys drool over sweaty hot men riding their hogs. Gay gals do the same thing and keep a sharp eye for a hottie on bike. The Rally is a fun event and welcomed each year. Locals will always remember our beloved Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas, a tremendous supporter of the LGBTQ community, clad in white leather and knee-high boots, astride a big ol’ Harley and looking hot!
With all the hoopla aside and the onset of cooler weather, Galveston cruises into the holidays. Thanksgiving, a traditional holiday that brings folks together, is a great time for the LGBTQ community to unite, share meals and celebrate as they creep toward Christmas. Thanksgiving on Galveston Island, especially in the community, is great. The bars all have wonderful meals for patrons. Folks make their best dishes to bring and, by the end of the meal, everyone ends up loosening a belt or a buckle. It really is a great time to be with each other and demonstrate the “family” that exists on the Island. As I mentioned last year at this time, it is not your Grandmother’s Thanksgiving.
Those that don’t “do” the bar thing gather in private homes and celebrate with those they love and cherish. Turkey, pies, cakes, sweet potatoes and green-bean casseroles will dominate the day — a day that usually starts with Bloody Mary’s and Bellini’s. All in all, it’s a pretty good day to be alive. The lighted Christmas tree is already atop the Daily News building and serves as a welcoming beacon to all who cross the causeway and come to the Island.
Thanksgiving, like any holiday, conjures many memories, some good and some not so good. When I asked several Galvetrazians about their favorite Thanksgiving memory or what comes to mind, the answer was a resounding “cooking and eating.” Some folks commented about the joy of being together and the agony of traveling to see friends and relatives. I think most folks have fond memories of Thanksgivings they treasure and hold dear, or at least I hope so.
When I was in third grade, my grandmother and I raised about 12 turkeys on their farm in east Texas. I loved those turkeys and every day, after the dinosaur yellow school bus dropped me off, I would run down the long, dirt road to the house. Passing the turkey pen, I would always stop and “gobble” to them, and they would reply. It was very comical to a little boy, talking with the turkeys and watching them strut with blood red head, wattles and huge fans for tails. I loved them and I think they loved me.
One day in late November, the day school let out for the holiday, I ran down the dirt road, excited to gobble at my turkeys. The scene I came upon was horrific. To my shock, there was my mother and grandmother, clad in bloody aprons, yielding hatchets and massacring my beautiful friends. When they saw me and the wide-eyed look of horror on my face, their arms froze in mid-swing. I screamed and ran as fast as I could, shouting all the way, “No, no! Not my turkeys! How can you kill them?!”
The two Carrie Nations dropped their weapons and chased after me. I fell to the red dirt and buried my face crying. My grandmother, who thought every problem could be solved with a hug and fried eggs, knelt next me, clutching a huge handful of bloody turkey feathers.
“Look, honey! You can make an Indian bonnet!” she said.
I threw up all over her and my mother. I was shattered by what I had witnessed.
That night, in my room, my mother came to try and explain, but I would have none of it. I pouted and moped for the next few days.
Then came the Thanksgiving revelation. As was common in those days, food baskets were collected in the classrooms for those in the community that were less fortunate. My mother, ever the “room mother”, was in charge of delivering the baskets of canned goods and other donated items to the families.
That year, twelve families would not only receive a basket of canned items and rolls, but also a plump, fresh turkey. My mother explained to me that, sometimes, in order to help someone or make them happy, a person might have to give up something they really love or treasure. I could not fully grasp the message she was teaching me at the time.
However, years later it became crystal clear — those turkeys were my sacrifice, if you will. As for our family, that year we had only ham!
Happy Thanksgiving, and remember to be kind and love one another.