Breaking Tradition

Norman Rockwell’s painting ‘Freedom from Want’ from Creative Commons

The meal at our family Thanksgiving has been rather traditional. (Except for the first Thanksgiving I spent with my new in-laws. But that’s for another story.) 

The turkey might be the star but it’s the cornbread dressing with a spoonful of gravy that really compliments the turkey for me. And I prefer my sweet potatoes without marshmallows.  Of course, the pies 

The food gets the attention. And the work. But it’s really about who’s around the table. 

For the past 13 years we’ve joined with our Panama City family to celebrate this holiday. The first year of this gathering we were mourning the recent loss of my father-in-law. We shared funny stories and the grandsons did their best Grandpa Byrd impressions. We all hugged on Grandma more. My aunt and uncle were also part of that gathering. On warm years tables were put outside eliminating the need for a ‘kids table’. 

We’ve named our thanks, we’ve written them on paper leaves for the tree made of branches, we’ve categorized them and listed them. 

Family and faith are always at the top of our gratitude lists as we’ve learned more about one another and enjoyed watching the littles share their thanks.

We’re breaking the tradition this year and it’s hard. We’re breaking our streak of going to the extended family celebration to stay home and celebrate with our daughter and her family. It’s still hard.

Thirteen years at the same place with most of the same people holds a lot of memories. Kids have grown up and patriarchs and matriarchs have gone to glory. Our granddaughter’s first Thanksgiving was with this group  of extended family and friends. 

It will be the five of us this year. Their food requests aren’t as traditional (I’m making the pecan pie anyway!) though delicious. My husband will prep and cook the turkey and make his mom’s sausage stuffing leaving me to wonder where I went wrong that our kids don’t prefer the cornbread dressing we all know is better in every way 😉 

Do you see the emotions in this day? The memories that food evokes and the delicate blending of traditions.

Holidays aren’t easy. We think the work is all in the preparations and clean up but it’s the heart that is tossed about with a mixture of emotions. 

White bread or cornbread, cake or pie, a dozen people or five? 

Gratitude will be our bond. 

Gratitude allows us to block negative emotions such as resentment, regret, and depression and celebrate the present. 

The theme of the day is thankfulness yet it so easily gets lost in the hurry of doing.

Gratitude will turn my thoughts to the many good celebrations we’ve had and the promise of more. It will help me focus on the time now, around this smaller table and the bonds we are growing.

My heart is already singing.

All creatures of our God and King

Lift up your voice and with us sing, 

Alleluia! Alleluia! 

Thou burning sun with golden beam, 

Thou silver moon with softer gleam! 

O praise Him! O praise Him! 

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 

– William Henry Draper, 1919

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