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Thanksgiving Traditions…Old? New? It’s Still Tradition!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving (okay, it’s not a news flash, but just in case you were still stuck in the campaign coma from a few weeks ago, we’ve moved on). And with Thanksgiving, as with every holiday, most families have their own traditions. Although some may be relatively universal for this holiday (thinks turkey as a main course), there are others that are likely unique to your family and maybe even “unusual” (read: “weird”) to someone else.
For example, when my kids were small, I bought these wooden turkey making kits and had them create their own turkeys. I remember them telling me what colors of paint we had to combine to make the brown, and one choosing to adorn hers with feathers, and the other painting stars of David on the turkey’s backside. Each year, for what now must be at least 16 years, these turkeys come out for the holiday season. But this year I could not find them…panic set in. Could I have accidentally thrown them away last year? Were they in the box with Halloween (no) or Hanukkah decorations (haven’t unpacked yet). Then miraculously I found them in a fluke where I just hadn’t looked…and just in time to display before my now grown girls got home for the holiday weekend.
Why were these turkeys so important to me? Simply, as Tevyah said in “Fiddler on the Roof,” because it’s tradition.
But I know that for many people going through Thanksgiving, or any holiday for the first time after separating from a spouse or significant other, becomes difficult because many of those traditions that you did together are going to stop or at least change. So instead of lamenting those things that have changed, this is a perfect opportunity to create new traditions that, as years pass, will take on the same or even more meaning than those you used to celebrate together. For example, if you won’t be spending Thanksgiving Day with your children this year, then make the next time you see them “The Day After Thanksgiving Day” where instead of eating turkey you eat something else that you all like, or you recreate the first Thanksgiving and eat outside with someone wearing a traditional pilgrim hat and someone else wearing native American headdress. Or make it a day where you and your kids cook together and donate food to a food pantry, homeless shelter or some other group in need…and then you go eat McDonalds (ok, that last part is icky, but your kids will love it)
The point is traditions are what you create and continue. They can be solemn; they can be silly, but the important thing is that they belong to your family, whatever its size and they create new memories that last a lifetime. And isn’t that really what makes life sweet?
To all, happy Thanksgiving. Whatever your traditions, old or new, we as Americans still have a lot to be thankful for. Let’s remind our children of this and never forget it.

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