Growing up and through my service years in the Navy, I rarely experienced any sort of family tradition of Thanksgiving dinners, until I was invited to spend the weekend with the family of a shipmate. When I married nearly twenty years ago, I joined a tradition of eating the yearly holiday dinner hosted by a family friend. Our contribution usually ran to pies and green bean casserole. A few years ago, we started to have our adult children come to us for supper, or to take everyone out to a restaurant. This year my wife and I drove in heavy rain and traffic two-and a half hours north from San Diego on Thanksgiving. It was warm, inviting, with great food and stimulating conversation. Nobody brought up politics, religion, nor wondered aloud when (more) grandchildren will be forthcoming.
traditions are not what they used to be
The more one digs into the history behind the Thanksgiving holiday that Americans have celebrated for hundreds of years, the more one learns that traditions are generally whatever people come to accept them to be. While it might have been a little gathering of Mayflower immigrants and natives to share food some four hundred years ago, the tradition schoolchildren, up through my generation, celebrated with paper hats and construction paper turkeys seems to have been much more complex. Few I imagine devote a lot of mental energy to the origins of Thanksgiving. In any case, millions of people travel over the Thanksgiving week visiting family and friends. It’s a time for babies to meet Grammas and Great-Grammas; for some, to enjoy milestone dinners with children hosting their first meals -where parents are invitees. For many, sons and daughters, from universities and colleges, stream “home” through airports and highways by the thousands. Hours and sometimes entire days are spent in rain- and snow-hindered traffic.
giving thanks for time
My goals today were to rise late in the morning. Walk the dogs for an hour between rain showers. Bring down the Christmas decorations from the attic (or garage in my case), and enjoy a cup of coffee. Call my aunt across the country and catch up on all her new grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Inflate the outdoor decorations and test Christmas lights. Earn praises of my spouse with some strategically planned shopping. Get in, get out and get home with a few bags of confectionery sugar. And the tradition of our home starting the season of holiday baking in early afternoon of Black Friday is secure. There is enough chocolate, flour, butter, peanut butter and other goods to make balls all weekend. And that is a tradition I can sink my teeth into.