Thanksgiving is the most traditional of American holidays.
Most of my turkey holidays have been spent at family gatherings or with close friends. For the longest time our family had Thanksgiving at my parents' home in Anaheim, Calif. But one year in the mid-1970s we decided to break tradition and escape the routine. That meant, among other things, freeing my mom and dad from a week of preparing a feast, not to mention everyone descending upon their home for four or five days.
I don't recall the specifics of why we chose to go to Mexico, but we did, renting a few houses along the coast near Ensenada, then still a rather small fishing village, albeit a growing one.
We all packed up our belongings—and that meant a pack of dogs, too—and drove 60 miles south of the San Diego border to relax for the holiday. Mexicans celebrate many holidays, but I don't recall them celebrating Thanksgiving, at least not the way Americans do.
It was a refreshing and relaxing change of pace. We cooked simple meals, hiked along the beach, threw sticks and balls for the dogs, rode horses and I visited my first Baja winery, Santo Tomas.
It was a great reprieve. No one felt like they had to play host for dinner or guests.
We had gone to Ensenada to shop for groceries our first day there and I remembered hearing about the famous bar there, Hussong's Cantina, where legend has it, the margarita was invented.
My mom loved margaritas and it didn't take much to convince her that we ought to spend one evening taking in the local color. We chose Thanksgiving.
I drove my mom, my brother Tom and my cousin to Hussong's in my mom's gas guzzler, a powerful two-tone V-8 that I think was a Dodge or Plymouth. We arrived around 8 and already there was a long line of people at the entrance waiting to get in. The bouncer said it could be hours; once people got inside Hussong's they stayed, drinking and hanging out.
I decided to see if there was a back door where we might get in and in walking around the outside of the building I noticed an area where we might crawl in. I pulled myself up to look inside and no one was there. It was the men's restroom, unoccupied.
I quickly grabbed my brother, mom and cousin and explained we could simply climb in, which we did. Tom and I and my cousin had no trouble scaling the seven-foot wall, but mom needed a boost. She never hesitated, and in a matter of moments we were inside Hussong's Cantina, seated at a table, with a basket of peanuts, ordering margaritas on a festive and memorable Thanksgiving night.
William Kronberger — San Diego, CA — November 23, 2010 9:36pm ET
Rich Riehl — Charlotte, NC — November 25, 2010 8:20am ET
Jack Folbe — Huntington Woods, MI — December 3, 2010 9:23am ET
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