Thankful Thoughts – Traditions

thankful thoughts with thishappymom.comSundays and Thankful Thoughts just go together.

Even though it’s late in the day, I just couldn’t go to sleep without sharing.  Since it’s close to Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about traditions.

I’ve decided that I like them.

That may sound silly, but hear me out.

Most of my childhood memories happened in the seventies. In the spirit of the era, my mom decided to reject the idea of traditional holiday stuff.   We went about five years without a turkey or ham at any holiday dinner, and the same menu was never served twice.

As I grew older, the eighties happened and things got a bit more traditional.

The whole experience left a mark.

I’m keenly aware that I have the option to adapt new traditions any time they seem right for my family.  Likewise, I can drop ones that have no meaning or that stress me out.

Perhaps because of that, I’m thankful for the traditions that we choose to keep.

Some traditions simplify my life.

I stick with the same menu every year for Thanksgiving.   Same recipes, same shopping list, same checklist.  My kids view it as tradition.  I don’t want to mess with what works.

Santa puts lots of snack foods in our stockings at Christmas.   It becomes the basis of our Christmas breakfast.   It’s a tradition that follows us no matter where we are and saves me from trying to cook AND open presents at the same time.

(don’t scoff – Santa leaves us whole grain muffins, whole fruit, nuts, and jerky.  he offered to leave smoked oysters, but no one wanted them.)

Some traditions connect me to the past.

My uncle had this thing about tasting all the desserts at a family dinner.  He’d get a small (two bite) sample of each one.  Then he’d go back for seconds and get a full serving of the one he liked the best.  I chuckle as my son re-enacts the ritual.

My mom wrapped all our gifts in tissue paper to keep us from snooping (my brother had mastered the art of partially unwrapping and re-wrapping without getting caught).  To add more confusion, she refused to label any of the packages.  I happily continue the tradition with my own kids in honor of my brother.

Some traditions bring meaning.

We read specific passages of scripture for each holiday.  It’s a small pause in a hectic day, but it helps us to remember the purpose of the day.

For Thanksgiving, we share stories of gratitude and blessing.

Some traditions just make me laugh.

Somewhere along the way, the traditional Christ Child cake on Christmas Eve got a little confused.  Per my mother-in-law, it HAS to be a store bought angel food cake with cool whip, coconut flakes, and silver ball sprinkles.

When we told the kids it was a birthday cake for baby Jesus, they decided a cake wasn’t enough.

So we have streamers and balloons and party hats too.

And birthday party plates with napkins.

(as a side note, why does it have to be angel food cake with cool whip? anyone?)

And a few traditions got dumped.

I um, don’t make dressing or stuffing for Thanksgiving.

The last time I made it, it was quite a production.   I baked the gluten free bread in advance.  I made the organic onion-free msg free turkey stock in advance.  I searched far and wide to find a recipe that was gluten free, onion free, and msg free.  And I made two pans so the vegetarians could eat some.

(yes, i cook for major food fussiness)

It was good.

But no one ate it.

My family confessed that they don’t really care for the stuff, no matter how good it may be.

So I don’t make it.

If you really want some, I’ll make it from a mix.  But I’m not doing the fussy food version again.  Ever.

I’m thankful for traditions.

But I’m also thankful I get to pick and choose what I want.

What about you?  Any favorite traditions?

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. I haven’t eaten meat since sometime in college. My mother doesn’t eat meat or seafood at all. About 20 years ago it was just me, my mother and my grandmother for Thanksgiving. At the time Nana was about 90 years old and ate like a bird. Still I insisted on making a turkey because it was tradition to have the smell of a turkey in the house. No matter what, I have to have the smell of a roasting turkey on Thanksgiving.

    • Michele, I have several vegetarians in my family and I totally get it. My family members talk about the smell of turkey at Thanksgiving and ham at Easter. And bacon. I love hosting my veggie family members at holidays – they get the smells they want and I have an excuse to add more healthy vegetables to the meal.

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