For as long as I can remember, my Thanksgiving Holidays have been filled with homemade pumpkin bread, my Mom getting up at 6 am to stuff the turkey, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, hunting for the wishbone, turkey trots, and enjoying canned cranberry sauce.
We have a special stuffing recipe that our family has made for years that contains water chestnuts, of which I only eat once a year, and always onion dip and Ruffles chips for an appetizer.
It is predictable that Aunt Kathy will bring Jell-O Salad (really, sour cream in the jello?!) to our gathering, that Uncle Brian will be glued to the football games, and Aunt Sara will certainly have way too many spiced rum cocktails to keep her head up at the dinner table.
There is never a shortage of food, and always an abundance of laughter.
Now that I have a family of my own, my children have had the opportunity to experience these holiday traditions, and our family has had a chance to embrace some of these as our own, and to start some new ones.
Our family has had a chance to embrace some of these traditions as our own.
All of this can be very stressful. As parents, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the ones to continue, create, and keep tradition going. And all of this can feel very daunting at times. I know that my daily life often feels very overwhelming and, add in the stress of pulling off a festive and fun and traditional holiday, and it often is the recipe for a mommy meltdown, at least in my world.
During the holidays, I remind myself that, just because you have a tradition, doesn’t mean it has to continue, without fail, every single year. I know that not every Thanksgiving of mine has included water chestnut stuffing, pumpkin bread, turkey trots (heck, I think we’ve only done that two times!), and Thanksgiving day parade-watching. Some years we spent our holiday out of town, others at a family member’s home, and now I have enjoyed every other year of Thanksgiving holidays with Justin’s parents and siblings. One year in particular I even remember tandem breastfeeding twins on the side of the Thanksgiving table!
And here is the lesson that I hold in my heart this holiday. My hope is that we all cling to each other, to those we love, and that we celebrate gratitude for those life-giving relationships that lift us up. My hope is that we embrace each other.
Traditions are so important, but no matter what picture my Thanksgiving memories mesh together to paint in my brain, the real consistency that has remained true year over year is the tradition of family. And that is the greatest tradition of all this Thanksgiving. May you be blessed by yours.