Sometimes the anticipation of a tradition is as good as the tradition itself. And sometimes, the weight of the tradition falls squarely on you. And maybe you really don’t want to shoulder the weight of that tradition any more. I know how the weight of a tradition feels, and how I took steps to create a new Thanksgiving tradition.
Maybe you envision your holiday as a little bit more enjoyable and relaxing for you. Traditions can both add to and take away from your family’s holiday joy. So if you feel that your traditions are getting in the way of your holiday enjoyment, here are my suggestions to help you change it up this year!
Do Your Thanksgiving Traditions Work For Your Family?
I am not my mother and I am not willing to toil away in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun. My mother hasn’t cooked holiday meals for years. I have no siblings, and my father burns toast and Campbell’s soup. I say that with a great deal of affection. However, that leaves me to do the cooking for holiday gatherings.
The Meal Is the Thanksgiving Tradition
Our traditional meal consists of turkey, my mother’s stuffing recipe, creamed onions, mashed rutabagas, sweet potatoes, cranberries – three varieties, pumpkin pie and mince pie.
At my heart, I’m a cook; I looooove to cook. It’s one of my favorite ways to express my creativity. I love looking on Pinterest for new holiday recipes. So cooking the same meal is somewhat of a chore.
On the other hand, next to my mother, I’m certain there’s nothing on earth my father loves more than this meal. He eats leftovers for as long as he can stretch them out. He’d love to be able to make them last until Christmas when….wait for it. He gets the same meal. Again. So if we would let him, he would exist on this same meal for over a month every year.
All this has made me bored with “the meal” from the perspective of an artistic and curious cook. I always want to try new things and switch it up a bit. At various times, I’ve added in new recipes: cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, cheesecake, brussels sprouts, butternut squash soup, corn pudding – you name it. But nothing new has really stuck.
Dare I Mess With The Thanksgiving Tradition?
The suggestion was well received and a new tradition was born!! Each Thanksgiving, we now head to our favorite beach, rent the same amazing house and enjoy the peace, quiet and beauty of an amazing place. A bonus for us in this house is the amazing bird watching. There’s such an interesting show going on outside our window at any given moment.
Then I Messed With the Thanksgiving Tradition. Again.
Once the physical move was well received, I started to figure out just how I was going to make “the meal.” Away from my kitchen and the things that I need… And then I started to think… Do I really have to spend all this time on the meal in a different kitchen? It will surely be more difficult…I’ll be missing good family time… Sheesh! So – I ordered a prepared dinner from an upscale source and had it delivered right to the door. Even though it was upscale, (read: expensive) it. was. not. good.
Lessons Learned from the Change In Tradition
So, in fact, my new “tradition” is to tweek the old tradition if I think that it makes sense. Sometimes the old needs a little boost to make things interesting! It doesn’t mean it’s no longer a tradition, it just adds a twist to the story of the tradition and carries it into the next generation. Stories are always better with a little twist!
I also learned that you can only mess with family traditions so much before things go awry. There’s a delicate balance between gilding a lily and turning it into a weed. My father was gracious, though secretly probably broken hearted. This year he’ll have his meal and his glorious leftovers. I’ve also learned that it’s a small sacrifice to make him the meal that he adores. I’ll have the boys help and still get my family time and relaxing holiday!