Holiday Traditions

Editor-in-Chief Caleb Regan shares his family's traditions for Thanksgiving Day, starting with deer hunting in the morning with his brother, followed by smoking a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

| Fall 2017

  • Can't go wrong with smoking a turkey for your Thanksgiving Day feast.
    Getty Images/tornadochaser

Every year, I say Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday, and every year, I have to stop and think about whether or not I can honestly say that. I still can. But it’s a little bit like trying to decide which barbecue in Kansas City is the best, or which cut of steak is best: I love ’em all. Christmas is a favorite – and will take on even more joy as our two baby boys grow up – and the Fourth of July is hard to beat, too. We try to venerate Easter like no other.

But, Thanksgiving obviously happens in November, and for a person with strong Kansas roots, that means it coincides with the best hunting season of the year – the whitetail deer season. I’m fortunate in that my state still gives the rut to the archery hunter, and rifle season opens within the last few days of November. (If you happen to know a Kansas couple who got married in early November, it’s pretty safe to say they’re not bow hunters.)

This all means that on Thanksgiving Day morning, I’m usually in a tree not too far from my brother – and I can’t wait to pass that tradition along to my boys. While we’ve had success in the days surrounding Thanksgiving, I don’t think we’ve ever actually taken a deer on Thanksgiving Day itself. Hopefully that will change soon. But as it goes with deer hunting, it’s not so much about killing as it is about enjoying the outdoors, God’s creation, and the people we love.

Behind giving thanks, the second most important job of the day is preparing the turkey. Smoking has been our preferred cooking method of late. There are times when we’ve roasted or fried (haven’t done it in a while) a second turkey, but in the moment of truth, more people reach for the smoked turkey than the alternatives, so in our family, the smoke continues to roll every Thanksgiving Day.

Karen Williams’ article, “Thanksgiving Masterpiece,” is one of my favorite reads in this issue, and has me itching for not only the holiday and the Thanksgiving bird, but for fall in general.

What about you? How do you typically prepare your Thanksgiving bird? Or do you do something besides the traditional turkey menu? If you can add anything to Karen’s insights, we’d love to hear your feedback. Send me an email (, with photos if you have them, and our favorites might just wind up in a future issue.



September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


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