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Nov 25

Holiday Traditions

My family loves Thanksgiving – and we’ve got traditions that dovetail together to make the holiday something special for every one of us.   I grew up as the oldest of four children and the daughter of a single mother who has a serious aversion to touching raw poultry.  I was trained as the official turkey maker early.  I think I was ten when my grandfather finally got tired of coming over on Thanksgiving morning to take out the “yucky stuff” from inside the turkey and taught me how to prep the bird for the oven.  Ever since then, making Thanksgiving dinner has been something for my mother and I.  We always play Christmas carols and gossip.  She makes the stuffing and I prep and stuff the bird.  She flutters around the house, setting the table, getting out everything else and I peel ten pounds of potatoes.   It’s my favorite part of the whole holiday – once the whole family arrives, and chaos ensues – that’s not Thanksgiving to me.  Thanksgiving is my mother and I, in the kitchen, getting ready.
After Jessie was born, it was simple enough to roll her into the tradition. She and I just slept over at Grammy’s house in Clinton and she would play on the floor.  As she got bigger, I was able to incorporate her more and more.  Marc realized quickly that hanging with us in the kitchen was not his cup of tea so he would usually sleep at home, stop at his parents for breakfast and them come over later in the day, be there for the dinner and football game.  After Sammy was born, I just took both kids with me.  Sam was still nursing, so it made sense for him to stay with me.  But two years ago, I was pregnant and sick – and Sam was entering into a definite Daddy stage.  He was realizing that he was a boy and so was Daddy and he didn’t want to stay with the “girls” at my mother’s house.   So we started a new tradition.  On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Julianna, Jessica and I go to my mother’s house.   We get take out, my cousin Becky comes over with her daughter Abby (Julie flat out worships Abby) and her mother, my aunt Aimee.  My sister Mandi comes with my niece Bella and we hang out, chat, visit.  Then we get up at the crack of dawn, and have our Thanksgiving morning together.  Mom and Jessie make the stuffing and set the table, I still handle the turkey, Bella plays with Julie and watches the parade.  There’s coffee and pastries and parades and Christmas carols.  It’s lovely – and I look forward to it all year round.

Marc and Sam have a whole other routine that they’ve developed.   After dropping us off, they go out for Chinese food, and then come home.  They snuggle up in our big bed, watch what we call “inappropriate television” (SpongeBob, I hate SpongeBob) and then play “Fight On the Bed.”   This year, Marc said that they wrestled off and on for a couple of hours, before poor Sammy finally just dropped off to sleep when my husband went out to the kitchen for a drink.  They get up late, hang out, eat a “man breakfast” and finally make it down to my mother’s house, just in time for dinner.

But after dinner… after dinner is when our whole family gets our time together.  We all pile in the van, and drive home from my mother’s house.  We fix leftovers and all pile on the couch to watch the Charlie Brown Thankgiving special.   I read somewhere that things are special only because we make them so – and we make Thanksgiving special every year, by starting traditions that the kids will remember.  I hope that thirty years from now, I’m still making Thanksgiving in the mornings with my daughters and granddaughters, and that my husband is still going out for Chinese with our son and grandsons.  And then we’ll all gather back together, eat too much turkey, gorge on desserts we’d never eat any other time of the year, and then cuddle up together and watch Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty learn that what the holiday is all about is being together.  Because it is.

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