I'm notorious in my family for tinkering with holiday traditions. For example, at Thanksgiving we don't do a "normal" American turkey dinner. We do a dinner with the normal components of turkey, cranberries, corn, etc., but they're channeled through another country's cuisine.

I derive my inspiration from Bill Murray who, in that classic film "Stripes," said, "We're Americans. That means our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world." So we salute those decent countries with our Thanksgiving meal.

One year we did a menu of Provenal French food, another year northern Italian, yet another Asian fusion and still another Latin-inspired. I can't tell you how happy it makes the folks at my supermarket to ask which country we're visiting that year.

And I'm sure the folks at epicurious.com, that lovely recipe website, don't mind all the hits as I go searching for inspiration on poultry preparation. "Dinde au vin" was my turkey take on the French classic "coq au vin" (it was merely OK).

Turkey chili with a strong Mexicano influence was superb. This year I'm starting to think Vietnamese. Shredded turkey inside summer rolls perhaps?

In this issue of Columbus Parent, we also tinkered with the usual holiday gift guide format. Right now we're all gearing up for the annual tradition of showering our loved ones with physical evidence of our affection. In theory, not a bad idea. In reality, it's challenging to not let the gift-buying pressure get to you, especially if you're trying to be prudent with your time and money.

If you believe the daily deluge of e-mails I get from publicists, then love can only be expressed with things that cost triple digits and were manufactured on the other side of the world. But I think we all know better.

For our gift guide, we assembled a team of local writers and told them to surprise us. And we wanted them to also think local. Sometimes, as in the case of a hand-carved Noah's Ark discovered at an arts festival, an idea can be a little pricey, but you can be sure this gift would be a family keepsake for generations to come. But most of the time, the ideas were imaginative, modestly priced and will also support a local business.

We also asked Central Ohio celebrities what was the best gift they ever received. Their answers were nothing less than delightful!

No matter how you celebrate the upcoming holidays, I hope you experience them in a way that really means something for you and your family even if that means tinkering with tradition.