Thursday was Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays for a few reasons. First off, the obvious: dessert. But really, more importantly than that, I love it because of the traditions that surround us at Thanksgiving each year. Some traditions started before I was married with kids. Watching the Macy’s Day Parade has been a favorite Thanksgiving morning tradition since I was a kid myself. Thanksgiving dinner has been hosted by my aunt and uncle for as long as I can remember, and they do a phenomenal job. It’s always a huge meal, a huge crowd and pretty much anyone and everyone is welcomed to our table each year. This year, five tables stretched end to end, filled with laughing, talking and even some tears as we remembered those who weren’t able to join us this year.
As parents, traditions are definitely something we wanted to pass along to our kids, but they’re also something we wanted to create with them as well. We passed along the love of the parade to our kids; now we watch as a family each Thanksgiving morning. We eat the same thing for breakfast each year: my Pumpkin Cranberry Bread, grilled to perfection. We spend Thanksgiving day from about noon through after dark, at my aunt and uncle’s house, having a huge, multi-course Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends; new and old. I bring the same pie every year to add my contribution to the plethora of desserts: my Cranberry Pie.
Interestingly enough, we were riding to school on Wednesday morning when Elizabeth mentioned that she hoped the rain that day would not continue into the next, because every year we take a walk down to the beach during “the soup break” between courses at dinnertime. She said she wrote about that in her journal, and then proceeded to tell me all about her Thanksgiving journal entry.
I was stunned as she spoke, detailing for me all the things she wrote about in her journal entry that she was looking forward to having, eating, seeing or doing the very next day. As I drove her to school, listening, I swallowed a lump in my throat.
I was so happy to hear the details that she remembered from each year’s Thanksgiving, but I was all the more thrilled that the foundations we’ve worked hard to instill in them, the love for tradition and family and memories has carried on from us to them. They love the things about Thanksgiving that we love as well. They look forward to those traditions now, as much as we do, as well as some new ones we’ve peppered in, here and there.
After Elizabeth told me about her journal entry, I asked her to see if she could bring it home for the long weekend so that I could read it and photocopy it for some of our family members who I thought would enjoy it as much as I did, including my parents and my aunt and uncle. I made a few extra copies, just in case anyone else wanted one.
When my uncle mentioned Elizabeth’s Thanksgiving journal entry over dinner, someone asked her to read it out loud. I didn’t know if she would or not-there were 34 pairs of eyes waiting for her response-but she did. She stood up and read all about her Thanksgiving, and she did a great job. A few people actually cried as they listened to it, showing that our shared traditions mean as much to them as they do to us.
I believe that traditions are passed on and that they are also created. It doesn’t matter so much what the traditions are, but more so that they just are; that traditions exist within a family. They represent the foundations of our family and the values that we hold true. I am glad to see that our kids love both kinds of traditions as much as we do; both the ones we’ve passed on to them, and the ones that have been created since we’ve had them. I know that in the future as times change, our traditions may change as well, but I also know that if we need to let go of some old traditions, we will be making new ones in their place.
And it’s my hope, that no matter what, my children will take at least some part of our Thanksgiving tradition; something that means so much to each of them, and pass it along to their families one day in the not-so-far off future as well, and add it to the traditions that they too, will be creating.