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3 years ago

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Photo: Guess who’s back? Back again? Richie’s back! Tell a friend!


I was on the phone with everyone in Maryland yesterday. “Oh, you are so smart to stay home! I saw the traffic reports this week and I thought of you!”

“It’s the best thing you can do for your family: just stay home! No reason to venture out into the madness!”

My house smelled of roasting duck, I had a pound cake and ice cream for dessert (and a stupid pecan pie for my husband–yuck!). My coffee maker didn’t go off until 8:20, but none of us rolled out of bed until 8:45. We were eating fresh baked cinnamon rolls by 9:15 and watching the Macy’s parade. That’s Thanksgiving to me–good coffee, fresh rolls, a very hokey parade and no pressure to do much or be anything. We are a family who enjoys roasted duck, Chinese-style pancakes, hoisin and scallions. That’s Thanksgiving for us. It’s been Thanksgiving for me and The Husband since we moved up here.

As I placed it all on the table and my two sons gathered, I wondered in that moment if we were doing right thing. What will Thanksgiving mean to them 20 years from now? What will their memories be? Will they be resentful that they didn’t get that “All-American” treatment? Cousins, loud uncles, fights over politics, dry turkey, long crawls down the highway in the car…

…or maybe frantic cleaning and high-pressure cooking, rough football in the front yard, cousins, loud uncles, fights over politics, dry turkey…

you get the drift, right? I know that’s all negative, but Lord, haven’t we all had that experience?

Our glorious “alternative” Thanksgiving won’t have that much meaning unless the boys experience “real” Thanksgiving, will it? Big family Thanksgiving, with “all the trimmings” is one of those shared experiences that we all have, right?

Should we go through all the hassle, just to say that we have?

That’s a stupid idea, right?

Or is that the good old-fashioned American thing to do?

I’d hate for the boys to go off to college and find partners and say in that sulky way that college boys do, “well, we didn’t get a ‘real’ Thanksgiving growing up. Mom always made fake Peking duck and we just watched football and didn’t go anywhere.” And then next thing you know, I hear they aren’t coming home for the holidays because they want to go see what “real” Thanksgiving is like with their partner’s big families who fight all Thanksgiving long and drink scotch and ride ATVs in the back woods…


that’s a lot of angst.

Ok, I’m sorry… I’m going to course-correct here…

I love our Thanksgiving because our Christmas is so high-pressure. We go home, we make room and time for everyone, we run ourselves to exhaustion and then we come back up here full but frustrated. Going home feels more and more like a duty and less like a pleasure. It’s so easy to hole ourselves up here, make the obligatory phone calls, turn on a good movie and enjoy the snuggle time.

It’s the ease, though, that I worry about. Longtime readers know that I chafe at the idea of doing something only because it’s easy.

So that’s why my Quiet Thoughts are about traditions today. The Husband and I have created many of our own since we came up here as a couple and started our lives together. Some of them are awesome and will always endure, like our annual Christmas card and Christmas letter. We will start lighting our Advent wreath come Sunday, and I think I’m going to get an Advent calendar this year, too. We’re going to get another live tree this year (though smaller than last year’s) and The Husband is stringing our first-ever holiday lights on the barn.

But should we make room, for the sake of our boys, for some of the old-school traditions that are a hallmark of American life so that they can make up their own minds about the holiday and eventually feel free to create different traditions some day? Maybe the best solution right now is to alternate: a “big” Thanksgiving one year, an intimate Thanksgiving the next. Or maybe a more local “Friendsgiving” with another family that stays home…

There are many options. We’ll figure it out. In the meantime, I ponder… admittedly in an anxious sort of way. There are no right decisions in parenting. This one included!


Another annual tradition that is coming to an end is my NaNoWriMo writing, Dear Reader!  The concluding chapter of Meadowlark II will be posted later on this evening, thus concluding my toils! I’m so pumped! That will not conclude my month of writing, however, as there is still one more post that needs to be written for my No-Fail(post) November! Then I will have won it all! I’m almost there, Dear Reader!

It is a surprisingly beautiful and warm Friday here in Massachusetts, Dear Reader. In the 60s! What a rare and wonderful treat! I wish you safe travels today if you are heading home from far flung places, and quiet moments if your Thanksgiving was a raucous affair. If you worked yesterday and today, I wish you many “thank yous” and special treats, and the knowledge that you are appreciated. I wish you plenty of patience and good manners if you are out shopping this first weekend of the holiday season. Remember that the folk working the registers and stocking the shelves are people, too! I wish you something yummy made of left-overs, if that’s possible. 🙂 Maybe some turkey pot-pie? Yum! I wish you one good bargain, a surprising find that will make the perfect gift for a friend, and maybe a special little something for yourself. It’s such little indulgences that make the stressful holidays a little easier to deal with.

And don’t forget to reach out to the people you didn’t see yesterday– a text, an email… they mean so much sometimes. “Happy Holidays, I’m thinking of you.” How much time does that take, Dear Reader? Do it!

Stretch out your capacity to love and be kind this holiday season, Dear Reader. See how much of it comes back to you.

Until Monday, take care.


Another new tradition? Parker House Rolls. AMAZING! King Arthur Flour is the greatest of all time! Alllll of these beauties actually left my house and went to friends to sit on other Thanksgiving tables. I’m learning that the best part of baking is bread is giving it to others.

10 Replies to “[Quiet Thoughts] The Dance of Traditions”

  1. Im not sure but last time I checked the thing about america is diversity. Eat the duck, be proud you’re doing it right. It’s a togetherness holiday; you nailed it. Hard to be thankful when you cant even think.

    And seriously, the traditional is overrated and a bit gross in the food dept. Not sad i had to work: there was one thing left in the vendo and it was a ham swiss lunchable. Score. Thank you baby jesus.

    I cant believe you got sixty degrees up there! Lordy woman, it’s 45′ in the mornin here; I’m freezing in my shorts! No, I’m not buying any damn pants; it’ll be 70’s next week. I did however treat myself to a new hoodie. 25% off! I never find deals.

    Back to traditions: aren’t they YOUR traditions to create? I believe yes. Now how’s about you start a tradition of fed-exin’ some of that there bread out this a way 😉

    1. Is it really in the 70s there all winter? It’s… not fair.
      And to be clear, it was 26 degrees here this morning and we had some sort of flash-freeze nonsense yesterday. I hate, hate, HATE the looming dread of winter! Don’t want it at all!

      I would totally fedex you bread if I didn’t think it would cost me upwards of $80 to get it to you in reasonable time. I have this problem with my writer’s group, too. Everybody wants bread! We have to figure out a teleporting system. I’ll get my husband to invent one.

      I know ya’ll are right about traditions. It’s hard to resist the pull of the picturesque when you’re watching TV all day and that’s all you see. Turkey, stuffing, blah blah blah… but to be clear, I did it when I was a kid, too. And you know what? It was a bitch. I’m glad we’re doing it this way. Hopefully it won’t come up in the therapy sessions I’m sure both of my boys will need. 😉

      SCORE on the hoodie! Old Navy is having a 50% off EVERYTHING sale today, too, if you’re still hunting for a deal! (You know, for pants. Cuz it’s winter, girl!)

      1. 32′ this am, 65′ after work. 75-77 thur fri. Winter through spring here is stellar, and hot summer is far tolerable than icy and snow. My body just cant handle that cold. In my life, winter can go get stuffed just like that damn turkey!

    1. Oh, it’s on. This is happening.
      Also YAY you saw that. It was pretty obvious, but I couldn’t help myself. It really was in my head as soon as I took that damn elf out of the box.

  2. My Junior year in college (that’s 1991…) I was in Rome with 28 others from my school, & we had the most amazing Thanksgiving ever. I made a HUGE pot of vegetarian chili, & everyone made SOMEthing.
    It was a game-changer for me.
    I don’t travel far during Thsnksgiving – mostly by choice, partly because I usually housesit for folks – and go to my dear friend’s home & have been doing so for years.
    Sometimes it’s smaller… This year it was 37!
    We cobbled together a “frankentable’ with tapestries covering it & a mix of dishes & mason jars for water…
    Everyone brought something to share in the food department.
    & always there’s a long walk before the big gathering, and then gratitude offerings around the table…
    It’s really nice.

    I appreciate your family tradition!
    It’s your family’s tradition!!!
    That’s what’s so cool about Thsnksgiving… Every family has their own.
    Yah, sure there’s the postcard type that we’ve all seen in print or heard about or even experienced… But your boys will be imprinted with this unique and lovely tradition that maybe one day their friends will take part in & have their eyes opened.

    Happy holidays

    1. You’re the best, Marneymae. Seems like you also have a wonderful tradition. I tried to look up what a “Frankentable” is and I found a whole bunch of different answers on the googles. Can you please inform me as to what a Frankentable is for you and your friends?

      You are totally right.. it’s our tradition and we get to do it however we want. It’s hard to resist the pull of the picturesque gathering that the TV box is trying to sell you, you know? But in the end, I got everything I wanted on Thanksgiving, and that’s what matters. I’m grateful. Let Christmas be the time of family crazy… Thanksgiving for four is pretty awesome.

      Feeding 37 would be a pretty daunting thing to do! haha

      1. Ooo
        I’ll need to look up frankentable on Google!
        I guess when I’ve used “franken” before another word (frankenpackage, for example) I think of Frankenstein… Pieces cobbled together in some way…
        In the case of this past Thanksgiving, there was the round dining room table, on top of which sat the edge of a door propped up on a sawhorse, on the end of this was a long collapsible table, & on each end of that were collapsible square card tables.
        So like an unshapely T, sorta.
        All covered up by various cloths & tapestries.
        (I’m typing on my phone… Hoping this paints a picture of the scene better!)
        Plus mismatched plates & flatware… Mason jars for water…
        Food brought by many spread all across the table(s), & passed to the left after holding hands, saying our name & something we felt grateful for, announcing what dish we had brought & any ingredients in case someone was avoiding this or that.

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