Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I think traditions are not quite as traditional as we traditionally, well, think.  Nor do I think traditions are necessarily the joyous happenstance of a life well-lived.  Sometimes they are just another repetitious, obligatory annoyance.

That being said, I will show these hand images (I am using these from a respected and expensive image library on the innerwebs, they might be trademarked but hey, who cares).  I'll tell you why in just a second.

Hands, obviously boys hands.

Every Saturday night when I was a boy,  our hands were full of burgers. I've recently restarted the tradition and now every Saturday night here at ihopeiwinatoaster is Handburger Night actually here, now, we call it Slider Night, and I am happy I have begun the tradi...

See, now the whole thing sorta just falls apart...

I think traditions are hopeful myths, written and rewritten, adopted, dropped, readopted, forgotten.  Traditions are like Norman Rockwell paintings, perfect once, for one moment.

Once, mind you.

But, somehow we dilute that perfection in a series of not-so-perfect attempts to repeat that perfect time; recreate that iconic Christmas Tree; reenact that beyond-thrilling sled ride down that killer hill; jump once again in a pile of gold under blue skies with giggling brothers; sing over and over Silent Night, trying to recreate perfectly that one time outside a snow-covered, steepled church, teary-eyed, cold and so very, very happy. Honestly, traditions are memories.

So I have started a new tradition, oxymoronic as that may sound; started a new set of memories.  Around here we make small little "sliders," on those little buns, butter toasted, yum.  Not really the hamburgers of my youth which were monsters.  I grill mine on a flattop, my dad used charcoal.  Some things are the same, I grind my own beef and Dad had his ground when we got a half a cow for the freezer.  Man, it was good beef.

He always served the burgers with a plate of thick sliced tomatoes, homegrown in the summer, chunky onions and iceberg lettuce which, to this day we all, including my boys, call "the fixins plate."  He never put cheese on 'em, never.  We do.

There is a little more to the story; you see his dad made burgers every Saturday night as well.  I can only imagine how differently the sliders I make on an electric griddle in the early twenty-first century would compare to the ones he grilled on a mesquite-coal grill under the desert sky in the nineteen-thirties and forties, or the one's my dad grilled in the fireplace over charcoal in the sixties and seventies.

So, I guess I have to ask myself if I am carrying on a tradition or not, not really, but...

...but, as write this I can see my Dad's hands forming burgers, sure and true.  I am sure his hands were an echo of his father's hands forming the burger patties, rough and chunky in those days, I'm sure.  I will teach my boys how to make them and our four generations of hands will collectively remember, always, that our fathers did this.

Yes, I guess I'd have to say we have a tradition of handburgers on Saturday night.

As an aside, the first time ever encountered the spelling 'handburgers' was at the opening of a restaurant in my basement.  It was on the menu, but the chef said:  "You should try the Purge, Daddy." so I didn't try them. I explained a little more about sliders and there is a picture of one in another post called, aptly, "Handburgers."

And, in the interest of full disclosure, those are not stock photos from the web.  The top one N drew and Z, the bottom one.  In fact, the assignment in the vocab journal was to draw "moving a hand."  Look closely on Nick's, I am pretty sure that's a couple of guys using some sort of rope and pulley sort of apparatus to 'move' a hand.  It's weird here.

From Marci's '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...'

"Watch... and learn."

Be afraid, very afraid...


  1. Nice story. Living in a house with vegetarian wife and toddlers that eschew most beef except Armour meatballs which I refuse to buy anymore, this cow eater does not get much beef time.

  2. I like the way you write, thinking things through as you go. I could be sitting across a table from you listening just as well as reading it from miles away.

  3. Traditions are not in what you do, but rather how you feel when doing them.

    I have tried to create many of my family traditions here... instead, I have started many of my own. Except the apple pie. Recipe's been in the family for years... it's still fantastic.

  4. You need to check out this:

  5. I enjoyed reading this (it also made me hungry). I think many traditions just happen. We don't know we are creating a tradition necessarily. I'm pretty sure your kids have an awesome dad. They are going to think about your hands when they are making handburgers for their kids on a Saturday night! The memory will live on.

    1. I forgot to mention I found you by way of DKL.