It’s the day before Thanksgiving can you feel the excitement? The day before Thanksgiving has always been one of the busiest travel days of the year and has been by tradition for the number of years. When you look up in the sky tonight look for the lines of lights in the sky of airplanes in the landing patterns. Around O’Hare we can almost read by these lights. Or if you choose to look at the train stations for any larger city and see the crowds fighting their way off trains, and you will see this travel holiday is very much alive. Of course the highways are also loaded to the brim as well.
It’s a fair guess that Route 66 will see some traffic in many spots today too, but probably no where near what it use to see.
When it comes to Thanksgiving I have always had a love for the holiday. Not because of Turkey and all that even though that helps, but because of the day before the holiday and all the energy the need to travel generates that in essence kicks off the holiday season. It’s also one of those times of year when you find yourself able to get into the spirit of things, and even begin to feel the way things use to be. I think it has a lot to do with Thanksgivings traditions, and maybe the fact that I have traveled portions of the route on this holiday as well.
Thinking back on my own memories of following the route from Chicago to Rolla as a kid on the way to Mountain Home, AR to see my grandparents, I can channel the feelings so of what must have been. I can imagine folks traveling home to here and there to towns on the route or relatively not that far from it. In my minds eye I can see the fall foliage which in the milder climate around Missouri all the way to Texas clings on the trees a little later then it does in Chicago. I can only imagine driving the route in each era, and being homeward bound. Fighting the traffic and rolling through small town after small town, anxiously waiting to see home and everyone I love again.
There’s a sense of people all experiencing the holiday in their own ways, and with foods that are traditional to them. I can see tables with foods made from local ingredients, honeys, peppers, avocados, mutton, beef and etc. I see pies off all types made with local flare, and wines and beers of all types. The holiday is about sharing and giving thanks and people up and down the route all do that but in their own way that is all still uniquely American.
Lets not also forget many of the little towns along the way too, many of which probably have traditions of there own for Thanksgiving. Look at Winslow, AZ for example which has a Thanksgiving parade dating back to the 1940's. How many other town have there own little things they do, such as community Turkey dinners, and adopt a serviceman programs, or even goofy odd little things that are just fun traditions.
The thing is when we think Route 66 we are often filled with images of Summer, and station wagons, Disneyland, California Beaches, and Cubs games. We never see the route that exist outside of Summer, that year round home for people who live with the route daily 365. There is something really splendid about seeing the route at a different time of year, and I think Thanksgiving on into Christmas is probably the best times to see Route 66 outside of its pop culture box.
I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, and if you are traveling be safe!