This Year, Quit Holiday Traditions Cold Turkey

Article excerpt

Byline: Gail Todd

Pulling out the cookbook to plan for the Thanksgiving feast always ruffles my feathers. There's something decadent about basing an entire holiday around food, never mind the fact that I truly hate to cook. So every year I close the cookbook and look for an untraditional way to celebrate the traditional holiday.

When the kids were young, we often flew overseas. During the holiday season, flights in the United States are usually stuffed with more turkeys than grace the family dinner table. Overseas fights are fairly light. And because it's off-season for tourists in Europe, travelers can find some incredible deals at hotels as well as on airfares.

For several years, we landed in London. We traded in our turkey dinner with all the trimmings for smoked turkey on rye with a side of chips. Thanksgiving might not turn on the British, but they do turn on their Christmas festivities the same weekend. The windows at Harrods will be ablaze with holiday glitter. Traditional Christmas puddings will grace the shelves of the Great Halls.

One year we flew to Ireland. We traded turkey and pumpkin pie for ribs and honey mead at the medieval Bunratty castle in Shannon. We rode in the horse-drawn jaunting cars around Killarney. When we were ready to fly home, we started our Christmas shopping at the duty-free shops at Shannon's international airport.

This year we might not need to cross The Pond to get in the swim of a new Thanksgiving tradition. With airfares so up in the air, last-minute bargains might land on such Web sites as www.priceline.com or www.travelocity.com. If they do, we might try something different.

One choice might be the Lake Austin Spa in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, where I like to lighten up - figuratively and literally - after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Here you can trade in your heart-attack-on-a-plate feast for chef Terry Conlon's incredible low-fat cuisine. …