The dinner table at the first Thanksgiving after I was married was ridiculous. We had two kinds of cranberries, one solid, right out of the can dumped into a china bowl with the lines from the metal can still showing. The other a homemade relish that my Mom has already put into my fridge for tomorrow night’s dinner. We had two stuffings, three pies and there was a fight over pieces of the giblets in the gravy or not and I am sure there was a discussion about the spuds too, since we disagreed on every other part of the menu that day. Looking back it seems pretty symbolic of my marriage but it also very clearly demonstrated the magnet like draw we have to our traditions. The food alone at Thanksgiving demands tradition attention, too strong of a demand, I think.
While I have been fantasizing about throwing out the whole turkey dinner and exchanging it for something new, exotic and delish, fantasizing because I know I will never be allowed to host again if I did that, I have been thinking a lot about tradition. We have mucked our old traditions up pretty seriously in the last few years and as we plan Christmas, not on the 25th, it is more in my face. Changing things up doesn’t make me so sad anymore, but I know that isn’t the norm. I know that this time of year can be rough for people, sometimes even a little rough for an ok changer.
I think we are so tied to tradition because they are familiar and hold so many memories for us. Holidays naturally take space in your mind. They are big events for most families and ones that, because we enjoy them so much, we want to repeat over and over, we don’t want them ever to end. They are like any good routine really. They work, we get a good buzz from them and we don’t ever want to change. But they do change, it is inevitable, everything does. People get married, divorced, move away, have babies, and people pass away and those things change traditions radically and cause havoc. These big things seemingly take away these joyous, idyllic memories we have of our traditions. But if you think about it, this change isn’t taking away our memories, maybe it is really just giving us something else, an opportunity maybe.
So what would happen if we loosened the reigns on these traditions a little? What if we kept the thoughts of our beautiful memories alive and close to the surface but we let them just be memories, nothing we strive to repeat. Past times that are still super important and that we love but that aren’t allowed to tie us up. Give ourselves a little space from them so we can see the potential of something new? Easier said than done, for sure. And funny because right at this very moment I am thinking of my Mom’s lovely cranberry relish, my sissy’s stuffing, giblet-less gravy and of Thanksgivings past.