For those of you looking for new holiday traditions, consider having Thanksgiving breakfast on the North 40.
Ever since my kids were little, on Thanksgiving morning I’ve gotten up early — well not that early — and prepared our annual “Cowboy Breakfast.” What is a Cowboy Breakfast, you ask? First of all, it is a breakfast that cowboys would eat: scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, fried onions, fried green peppers, fried apple slices, and toast — preferably not whole wheat or some other healthy abomination. The whole thing is gloriously cholesterol-laden, and rich in saturated fat.
A cowboy breakfast has two basic rules: first, manners are forbidden. I started this rule because I was always working on manners with the kids the other 364 days of the year and figured they needed one day a year off. (“I’ll tell you why it matters how you hold your knife. When you’re grown up, you might just be invited to the President’s house for dinner. If you don’t know how to hold your knife you’ll look like a bumpkin. Do you want to look like a bumpkin in front of the President?)
So the Cowboy Breakfast no manners rule means you can talk with your mouth full, slurp, eat with your fingers, put your elbows on the table, burp, and lick your plate if you want to. All these are encouraged. You don’t have to say “please” and “thank you.” You can say, “Gimme them eggs.” Everybody can talk at once. You can wipe your mouth on the back of your arm.
The second rule is you must talk in a cowboy voice and utter cowboy-like sayings, for example, (in Texas accent) “Jonny, after we’re done chowin’ down here, I want you to get up to the north 40 and fix that fence. We got dogies (not doggies) runnin’ all over tarnation. Man, these eggs is mighty good if I do say so m’self. Consarn it! I just dripped grease all over my new chaps. Hey woman, kin I git you to clean ‘em after yer done fixin’ that leak in the barn and skinnin’ that buffalo I shot this mornin’? I’d preciatate it a heap.
This Thanksgiving we’ll do our Cowboy breakfast for probably the 25th year in a row. We’ve had cousins and other families join us, and it’s one of our favorite traditions. Now we’ve got grandkids learning how to eat with no manners. Why do I do this? Well, besides loving bacon and talking in a cowboy voice, I heard someone say years ago that one of the most important things a dad can do is make memories with his family. That was my initial inspiration. I’ve tried to do that over the years. Now I get to try to make some memories with my grandchildren.
So around 7:30 or 8 Thanksgiving morning, you’ll find me in our kitchen slicing potatoes and firing up several frying pans full of oil. And I’ll still be talkin’ like a cowboy, consarn it, even if nobody else wants to. Now where’s that woman got to? I need my socks darned.
Originally published Nov 19, 2008