Thanksgiving is an all-American holiday that tends to bring out the nonconformists in the crowd, especially in California — those who demand their turkey with a side of quirky, hold the stuffiness.
In this spirit, traditions are where we find them. Some of us skip Thanksgiving altogether and head to a tropical island while everyone else is huddled at home watching football.
Others toss the cranberry sauce off the back deck, in a "free the berry" ceremony reminiscent of the White House pardoning of Tom the Turkey.
Why not? It's a free country.
<b>Taking a hike:</b> As a busy Wine Country chef, Chris Greenwald of Bay Laurel Culinary in Petaluma works nonstop from spring through fall, catering weddings, music festivals and harvest parties.
By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, he is always exhausted. A few years ago, he decided to break with tradition and hike the entire Kalalau Trail on the island of Kauai, all by himself.
"That was such an amazing experience," he said. "And it was easy to get the permits at that time of year."
A year later, he decided to go on a sea kayak trip to Espiritu Santo island off La Pazand loved it so much he returned the next year with his girlfriend.
"We kayaked on Thanksgiving Day," he said. "You can get incredible deals on plane travel, and things are less crowded."
This year, the couple is flying back to La Paz to hang out with a friend on his boat.
"We look forward to Thanksgiving all summer long," he said. "Then we have a big family Christmas."
<b>Ironing things out:</b> It all started with a simple conversation between two baby boomers about what it was like growing up in the 1950s, when kids roamed the neighborhood all day and didn't come home until dinner.
But what did all the moms do? Cynthia Calmenson's friend, Ellen Robin, said her mom and her friends would bring their wrinkled clothes, literally circle their ironing boards in the living room, pour cocktails and visit.
"I just love that idea," Calmenson said. "I'm not a quilter, but I actually love to iron. I find ironing very relaxing. It's one of those lovely, brainless activities. I think it's very zen."
Around Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, Calmenson and a few of her gal pals will gather this year in her Santa Rosa living room for an official meeting of the Circle Your Ironing Boards Society.
It's bring-your-own iron, ironing board, wrinkled linens and an hors d'oeuvre to share. Calmenson will provide the spray bottles, extension cords and a pitcher of some kind of adult beverage.
And the best part? You can come even if you don't have any tablecloths to iron.
"We have one person who hates ironing, but she is coming anyway," she said. "So we have people who attend for moral support."
<b>Hockey road trip:</b> Sharon Zimmerman of Santa Rosa will have Thanksgiving on the run again this year, which is becoming a tradition for this athlete's mother.
Zimmerman will travel to San Jose to watch her 12-year-old son Logan's hockey tournament.
Logan is a forward on the Santa Rosa Flyers PeeWee Hockey Team, which is made up of 11- and 12-year-olds and always plays tournament games on Thanksgiving Day. In past years, the team has celebrated together at a restaurant and hopes to do the same this year, depending on the game schedule.