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Saturday essay: A holiday 'tradition'

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Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

Some holiday traditions weren't cherished when they happened, yet they're the memories we associate with these special occasions. Thanksgiving, for one, will always be remembered in my family as moving day.

First, the background: Pop, the old-school doctor, subscribed to just about every journal in medical publishing. Some he'd read, and all eventually would end up on the table in the dining room, which was reserved exclusively for holiday feasts.

Come early Thanksgiving morning, the great magazine move would commence. Not just a move, mind you, but a painstaking compilation.

Pop insisted that all the various medical journals had to be separated by title and collated by date. Not exactly an easy task when there were dozens to sort through.

Gradually the organized stacks would take shape on the dining room floor. And heaven help you if there was a month's issue missing.

“Where the hell's my July issue of JAMA?” the old man would bellow, as if it contained an elusive medical breakthrough. Everything stopped until the missing issue was found.

By the time the aroma of roasted turkey wafted through the house, my two older brothers and I would be carrying the massive collated stacks down to the basement, where they would gather dust until the next year's journals joined them. Year after year.

It was tradition. Yet in these years without him, Pop and his peculiar holiday preparations are fondly recalled — and missed.

— Bob Pellegrino

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