Thanksgiving, Traditions, and Itineraries

DCF 1.0

Thanksgiving 2007. We hosted my side of the family in our Cordova apartment. Somehow I made everything using the stove, our single oven, and a crockpot.

This morning, my parents finally chose a time for tomorrow’s big family dinner, so now I’ve finally been able to put together a timeline for my family’s Thanksgiving festivities. I was getting really frustrated trying to come up with multiple “what-if” scenarios based on various times they could wish to serve dinner. One of these days I’ll learn to stop doing that to myself and do a better job rolling with the punches. In the meantime, I’m a planner, and I want a plan in advance.

I know that to some, or maybe even many, my desire to plan out events may seem extreme or like it’s a waste of time. But, I truly believe that family memories do not (in most circumstances) make themselves. This is certainly true for my little family. In the absence of a plan, we end up sitting on our behinds and doing a whole lot of nothing. If I failed to plan tomorrow in advance, we would all sit around until the last possible minute, get ready, and head out the door to go to my parents’ house. Downtime is certainly good, but who wants to look back at a life full of downtime? I want to make some memorable memories!

My plan for tomorrow isn’t particularly memorable because it includes anything fantastic, rather, it is going to be special because it contains all the things I love about Thanksgiving. You see, I’m a sucker for tradition. I’m not the type that wants to go to to Florida for Christmas or go skiing for summer vacation. (I suppose if those things were our tradition, I’d feel differently. But they’re not. So I don’t.) I like to stick with the tried and true. I don’t think that’s boring. I think that’s meaningful. This certainly doesn’t mean there’s no room to add new traditions or do away with empty routines that have been substituted for traditions, but, in general, it means I like organic growth and development when it comes to the way I celebrate my holidays.

Thanksgiving 2011 at Josh's parents' house.

Thanksgiving 2011 at Josh’s parents’ house.

When I think of Thanksgiving, several things come to my mind: THE BIG MEAL, cooking all day, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Mass, and family expressions of thankfulness. Some of these, like the parade and the meal, are rooted in my childhood experiences, but most of these stem from who I am today and why I believe Thanksgiving matters. Regardless of where my holiday notions stem from, this is my jumping off point for creating all of our family’s traditions. Josh and I compare our lists of what we equate with any particular holiday or event, evaluate what is the most important, decide if there’s anything we want to add, and, VIOLA…we have our little family’s traditions.

Despite the fact that we have been married for nearly 8 years, we still often have a hard time helping our parents’ understand that their ideas and traditions aren’t number one anymore. This is often uncomfortable and results in strife, sometimes between Josh and me, sometimes between us and either or both sets of our parents. Either way, it’s no fun. Needless to say, we’re still a work in progress. (Which, by the way, is how I ended up waiting on my parents to select a time for Thanksgiving dinner before I could solidify our own plans…)

So, what will tomorrow look like for my little family? I’m so glad you asked!

6:30-7:00AM – snuggle and drink coffee until I’m conscious.

7:00-7:45 – shower and get ready while the kiddos play or watch Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving or Madame Blueberry or something else keeping with the spirit of things.

7:45 -8:00 – Start cooking! Our breakfast first. Our family always has some kind of yummy (and incredibly unhealthy) egg & hash brown dish. I’m still working on the specifics, but I’m pretty sure it will involve ham this year instead of bacon.

8:00-9:30 – Turn on the parade and watch while we cook and maybe even leave it on in the background while we eat. (We’re such rebels!)  The kids also have to get dressed during this time.

9:30 – Leave for Mass

10:00 – Mass!

11:30ish – Get home from Mass. I’m going to have apple cider waiting in the crock pot to warm everyone up. While I’m drinking, I’ll get back to work in the kitchen. Josh usually helps too. We’ll coax the kids into a nap or, at the very least, a little rest of some sort to help curtail cranky moods for the rest of the day.

I’m sure Gone with the Wind or the Godfather will be on during this time, so that’s probably what we’ll have on in the background while we cook and chat and catch up. (I really love cooking with Josh. We ought to do it together more…)

Sometime before 2:30 – I hope to lay down or at least put my feet up; I’m so exhausted with this pregnancy!

2:30PM – load everyone up again. To Grandmother’s house we go! We’ll likely talk about what we’re thankful for in the car on the way there. Maybe I’ll even come up with some kind of cute activity to make that more fun. I’m curious to see if the kids simply say the same things they wrote on our Thankful Tree or if their responses will vary somewhat.

From 3:00 on, we’ll be at the mercy of my family. I’m hoping between my newly evaluated expectations and some kind of Thanksgiving miracle, it will be an enjoyable evening. If nothing else, the food will be delicious. At the very worst, I can suddenly become some kind of football fanatic and pretend I’m completely engrossed in a game. ;)

If we get home before it’s too terribly late, we’re going to watch the Wizard of Oz. We recorded on the DVR a few days ago. The kids have been dying to see it, but we haven’t gotten a chance to watch it yet. If it is late, we’ll just watch it tomorrow while we all lounge around waiting for my grandmother to arrive from Atlanta.

Thanksgiving 2005. Our first "family" Thanksgiving picture! 9 mos preggers with Andy. :)

Thanksgiving 2005 outside our apartment in Bartlett. Our first “family” Thanksgiving picture! I was 9 mos preggers with Andy. :)

I must say that, if it were entirely up to me, all holidays would involve a little sleeping in. But, alas, that’s not realistic for our current season of life. Ben will be up by 6:30AM, regardless of when we put him to bed tonight, and I want to spend every holiday minute with my littles.

I know our plans aren’t particularly glorious or magical, but I’m happy with them. I’m a little disappointed that I played the “let’s just make everyone else happy game” but I’m quite pleased with the way it’s all going to come together.

It goes without saying that tomorrow will not work out exactly as I imagine. That’s why the schedule isn’t broken down into more specific time chunks. That would never work for us. Other than that, I’m just going to have to remember that each moment is a gift, and sometimes gifts aren’t what we were expecting, but gifts are always wonderful.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

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