Patrick and I have been married 23 years and so much about the way we celebrate Thanksgiving has changed. As our families grow and extend, they also branch off into their own traditions. For us, the days of the nana “anchor house” for Thanksgiving dinner is gone. While it made me sad at first, I realize we all have the power to create new traditions! I’s about cherishing those happy memories and prepping for new ones!
I’m blessed to have an awesome mom, brother and sister. They are always there for me for anything I need and even though I don’t spend a lot of time with them on a daily basis, we do keep in touch through email, phone calls, Facebook and all of that. It’s mostly my fault because I’m always traveling and when I’m home, I’m busting out for deadlines, cleaning the house or just plain exhausted. Usually around this time of year, I think, “Oh, I’ll see everyone on Thanksgiving!”
Yesterday I asked my sister where Thanksgiving was going to be (it often rotates among extended family) and she let me know that she and my mom decided to have their own simple dinner, and my brother and sister-in-law had made separate plans too. I felt a gooey lump build up in my throat. As soon as she left, I began to ball.
“I’m an oprhan, I have no family to see for Thanksgiving!” I cried. “We might as well eat TV turkey dinners!”
Patrick rolled his eyes. “Mujer, we have all of my family, not to mention your Uncle Joe’s house and your mom’s side of the family. We can visit any of them, they’ll be happy to see all of us. You are a drama queen!”
Of course, he was right. He always is. Patrick’s family turkey day rotates to different houses, but is always packed and full of flavor and conversation. And killer desserts! And then there is my Uncle Joe’s. It’s a full-on fiesta over there, every room is a different little party with musica, cafe con leche, storytelling, food and even games.
“I know, but they are not my IMMEDIATE family!” I replied. “I want to see my brother and sister. And see my mom kiss her grandkids and I want to say a prayer at the table and hold hands.”
I am a drama queen, I know it. I’m too sensitive. Really, all of the above can be done at any time and should be – not just on Thanksgiving. So, yah, it was a cold splash of cranberry juice in my face when I realized I’ve been taking my mom and siblings for granted. They see each other a lot because they make the effort, so spending Thanksgiving at different houses isn’t such a big deal for them. But for me, I save up all my visits for The Big Day – automatically assuming I’ll see everyone. This year, I learned that is not always the case.
I think back to the days when I would share stories on this blog about traveling back and forth across the city to take the kids to visit both my nanas, and both of Patrick’s. Oh my gosh, if we even dared thought of skipping one house, we were in hot water! We’d wake up and whine about the long day ahead, the drive, towing two rowdy little kids, stuffing our faces…by the time we pulled into our driveway ten hours later, we had reconnected with more than 100 relatives (between both our families)! And we L-O-V-E-D every minute. It filled a space in us that no turkey or gravy could match. And it all centered on our grandparents’ houses, that was the command center for everyone to come together.
I would give anything to return to those days. I miss the four houses, the drive, the crying kids in the backseat, the bags of food wrapped in foil that were sent home with us.
These days our grandparents no longer live in their homes, they’ve either passed on or moved. All the cousins and siblings have moved on to having their own Thanksgiving dinners. Everyone has splintered into different directions.
It hurts to accept the fact that as we grow older, traditions change. And it’s up to each of us to decide HOW they change. right? We each can start new traditions any way we want. I’m excited about this!
For me, I know that:
1. I love my family, am grateful they are right here in my city, they are all healthy and happy. I’m excited make much more effort to see them without relying on holiday gatherings, parties or events!
2. I’m ready to venture into becoming a hostess! Our house is always like a workroom, so many things in progress. Time flies from one event into another. But I’m going to change that so that we can have our own gatherings right here. Maybe we can become an anchor house! I want my kids to see that staying connected to each other is very crucial in leading a fulfilling life.
Tomorrow will be a busy day alright, two big houses to visit and I’ll definitely pop in to see my mom and sister, bring them some of the gingerbread kiss cookies I made. Out of everything, I think I’m most thankful for realizing that it’s never too late to WAKE UP time to start some new traditions rather than fall into a boring habit!
Happy Thanksgiving! Not just for tomorrow but for EVERY DAY – every day should be Thanksgiving Day, make it your own!
How has your Thanksgiving changed over the years? Am I the only one who notices a difference?