Personal, Stories Told

Making traditions up as you go

A rerun from Nov. 2011, with an update at the end.

It’s my ex-wife’s turn to enjoy Thanksgiving with our sons, so I’ll be home alone tonight. Don’t weep for me – we had the family, the fine china, the turkey, and the post-dinner coma last Saturday.

Table set and ready

When I was small, we always had Thanksgiving with Mom’s family and sometimes again later with Dad’s. Mom’s family usually gathered at my grandparents’ palatial retirement estate – a narrow mobile home on a small lake. I swear we crammed 40 people in there every year. People ate their dinner anywhere they found a spot to squat.

My grandparents were the glue holding the extended family together, and after they passed nobody much wanted to gather for Thanksgiving. So we started having Thanksgiving at home, just the four of us. We did it up right with all the fine dishes and silver handed down generation to generation. When I married, we added new family members as they arrived. Eventually, eight of us fit around the table.

These days we have Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving in even-numbered years and whenever it works out in odd-numbered years.

We have adapted to every change. We were sad each time to see old traditions pass, but soon our new traditions had taken root and began to create memories just as warm as the old.

Things have continued to change since I wrote that four years ago. My older son is off to college; he and his brother had Thanksgiving with their mom this year. My parents sold the family home and moved to Indianapolis last year, so we no longer drive to South Bend for this holiday. I have a girlfriend, Margaret, who has four children of her own. I invited them, plus my parents and my brother, to my house for Thanksgiving. My mom, Margaret, and I worked together to prepare the meal. It was crowded at the table, and a lovely time was had, but even so my sons’ absence was felt.


6 thoughts on “Making traditions up as you go

  1. Sounds like a great time. For some reason, I always enjoy hearing about peoples’ Thanksgiving traditions.
    We hosted the family last year, but this year went to Cracker Barrel in Lafayette so that my Mom would not have to travel. It. Was. Mobbed. Then a trip back to her assisted living place and we all crowded in for a nice visit.
    I hate the years when we miss someone, whether caused by death or absence. Our oldest son was gone this year, but he was able to give us a call. Your sons will, of course, have their own Thanksgiving memories, and I am sure that those spent with you and your family will be good ones.

    • Thanks JPC. At the holidays, sometimes I do feel a pang, wishing that my ex and I could have worked it out so that every holiday could include the whole family. That would have required us to be different people at that point in time, however, and there’s no going back now, no reconciling, so this is what we have.

  2. Dan Cluley says:

    Glad to hear your days went well.

    We have been celebrating on Friday for a couple of years now. This lets my siblings & spouses spend Thursday with the other sides of their families. I rather like this & if you aren’t doing major shopping it makes the whole weekend a little more relaxing.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a Cracker Barrel that wasn’t busy, so I can’t imagine what a holiday is like!

  3. Steve Miller says:

    The lucky ones figure out how it works… those able to recognize not only the possibility, but the need for change. Keep moving forward!

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