Pleasure or pressure?: The Everyday Wonder of Thanksgiving traditions

Is Thanksgiving really a time for … thanksgiving? Or do the traditions of the holiday bring as much pressure as pleasure?

Today, Everyday Wonder looks at the traditions of this holiday: how we celebrate, what we carry through the years with us, what we keep and what we yearn to change. In today’s noisy society and during this often noisy season, an oasis of time to gather, converse and be thankful seems like a godsend. But the traditions that define us can also bind us.

In this episode, we talk about our own traditions, about Southern traditions, about societal traditions, and about what we each want to take away from a day of thanksgiving. And perhaps give you, our listener, the opportunity to ponder your own holiday traditions, and how they are – or are not – meaningful to you.


Brett Will Taylor, who secretly yearns for a noisy and crowded table where appearances don’t matter

Renee Peck, who rebels at the idea of sacrosanct Thanksgiving traditions, but who never fails to serve the family’s traditional Asparagus Casserole (recipe below)


Thomas Walsh, whose first Thanksgiving with his in-laws involved an entrée of manicotti

The Peck family asparagus casserole dish originally was taken from The Acadian Bi-Centennial Cookbook, published by The Louisiana Acadian Handcraft Museum in Jennings in 1955. It was contributed by Mrs. Lillian Sweeney, and this is how it reads, verbatim:


1 medium can green asparagus
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 lb. grated cheese
1 cup cracker crumbs

Make a light cream sauce:  3 tablespoons butter in sauce pan, melt, add 3 tablespoons flour, stir well before adding 1 1/2 cups of sweet milk, pinch salt and pinch black pepper.

Use medium casserole and stack using first asparagas, about 1/2 of can, pour 1/2 of cream of mushroom soup over asparagas, put 3 thin slices of butter on 1 egg, sliced, use 1/2 of the white sauce after sprinkling 1/2 of cheese over the egg, then sprinkle 1/2 of cracker crumbs, then repeat using asparagas first and continue as first layer, using cracker crumbs on top.

Have oven heat 300 degrees F.  Bake about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Everyday Wonder is a weekly podcast that focuses on conversations about the things that really matter. Read more about it here. Send feedback and comments to Brett Will Taylor at or Renee Peck at



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