Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cassy's Corner- Traditions


Next week is Thanksgiving. I’m starting the lists. As you know, don’t come between me and my lists. My husband, daughter, her husband and I are heading north to join my parents for the holiday. I start the food shopping on Monday with some early food prep to follow. The holidays are so filled with tradition that at times there is little room for maneuvering. I know my daughter and my father will refuse to change the family stuffing. One year we did and there was basically a revolt. My mother will be sure to make turkey stock from the carcass and we’ll smell that bird for days. All the fixings will be the ones we hold dear. There is comfort in knowing it will be the same. Somehow having the "must be this way" syndrome is a blanket of security.
But, Christmas this year is going to be a new experience for us. I’m actually a little nervous. After 30 years of marriage, two children, and the many family traditions we’ve created, my husband and I are going to be alone for the holiday. This has never happened before. Our older daughter is married and is starting her own routines. Our younger daughter is a physician and has to work. The children aren’t children any more.
So, do we keep the traditions because that’s what you’re supposed to do? Do we begin new ones? Do we still hang stockings with care? Do we read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to each other, pretending that we can hear my father reading to me and my husband reading it every year to our children? What would the holiday mean this year?
For the last few weeks my husband, an inveterate reader of anything related to travel, has begun to suggest where we spend Christmas. Maybe we should explore a new city, he keeps saying. We could go anywhere he repeats. Every few hours he has a new idea. I won’t list them, but they all involve suitcases, plane tickets, and hours in the air. He began a policy in his office many years ago of giving everyone the week off from Christmas to New Year’s. So, he has ideas galore of where we can be for the week. It’s been like playing at the roulette table. The ball spins and somehow that’s where we’ll be.
Until two days ago. Over dinner he said, “Maybe we should stay home. There are so many things we’ve not had a chance to enjoy.” He began his list of what he’d like to do, including perfecting his homemade pasta that is already pretty darn good.
I smiled. This was sounding good. I immediately had images of the fires in our fireplaces, the stack of books that keep calling to me, and walks with our dogs in the hopefully snowy woods.
“But,” he continued. “No, turkey, no stuffing, and no squash. I’m planning the meal and it will be something totally different.”
Fine, I thought. Then I became nostalgic. Now we open a new chapter and create new traditions. The familiar ones won't disappear. They will be part of the family whenever we want them, just not this year.

11 comments:

Cassy Pickard said...

Are there traditions in your family that you really can't let go? And, are there ones that make you cringe, hoping they'd disappear?

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Hmm, I can't really think of any. But I do miss when we used to go to Florida to my parents for Thanksgiving. I miss that a lot, but the kids have to take too many days off from school. Way too much work for them to make up. NOw we go to my in-laws, which is also great, I just miss the sunshine :-) NOw we got to Florida during their February break.

Anita Clenney said...

Cassy, there's something sad about having thing changing but it can be a positive thing too. I guess I can't imagine when my kids aren't kids anymore.

We usually go to my in-laws for Christmas because the kids only get to see them once or twice per year. They have lots of parties, and it can cause stress trying to get everyone ready, so this year we're going just a couple of days before Christmas and will spend the week after Christmas there.

Cassy Pickard said...

Kari: It sounds like you've still got a great deal. Sunshine or not, how wonderful to have family close by.

Cassy Pickard said...

Anita: At times it does feel sad. But, it also means my husband and I did okay with raising the kids. They are independent and productive people. Also, we are young enough to think about what comes next- or so I keep telling myself. Being in our 50's gives us lots of time to play (hopefully). And, my husband (and I) are tapping our toes ready to think about the next generation of traditions.

I was incredibly fortunate enough to have my grandmother be able to spend significant years with her great-grandchildren. Our kids are the only grand children in the family. They would not be who they are without their grandparents and their connection with their great-grandmother. Traditions take on so many paths.

Lindsay said...

Sorry Cassy but I don't have a tradition for Christmas. I do know that I wont be working since it falls on a weekend though. Probable just curl up and read a good book or three.

KC Stone said...

I've learned over the years to not tie myself to traditions. In my family,they came with such angst, expectations, and inability to make everyone happy...

The holding of one's breath when trying to change was difficult and began with a lie - that we had to go out of town... then we stayed home and had Christmas for two--
there's something to be said about guilty pleasure!

Now I love being able to offer to work the shifts that nobody else wants and Christmas is free of all the pressures.

We then choose a different day and have a feast for two.

Cassy Pickard said...

Lindsay: A good book sounds great to me. I'm hoping to get through a few over the holidays.

Cassy Pickard said...

KC: It sounds like you have it figured out! Good for you!! There is so much external pressure to "do it right." If you've got the solution that works, you win. Thanks for leaving a comment. Please come back.

Liz Lipperman said...

My family tradition has always been to go to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, come home, eat ham sandwiches and potato salad and then open presents. Now that the kids are married and have in law's traditions to keep up, we now go to 5 PM Mass on Christmas Eve, come home, eat steak and mashed potatoes and gravy and then open presents. On Christmas day, Dan and I wake up early and go to my daughter's house so we can see the kids get all excited over what Santa left them. Our tradition is to make breakfast tacos, then the kids go to the in laws and are usually alone. So Dan and I go to a movie and eat lots of popcorn.

Thanksgiving is always here. This year the kids are all spending the night so the girls can go shopping on Black Friday and the guys can watch the kids.

Setting new traditions is not always a bad thing. Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful, Cassy. I'm envious that you still have parents to share it with.

Cassy Pickard said...

Liz: It sounds as though you have it in perfect balance. Good for you, and for your family!! Yes, it's wonderful Jon and I still have all 4 parents enjoying time with us. We are fortunate.