Crazy things happen to ordinary people, every day. But this is particularly true of the holidays. Some of life’s greatest and worst moments play out after the turkey is served and pie is cut. I am not entirely sure why that is, but I know enough to know this happens to every family from time to time.
In my younger years, I used to go and visit and friends after my family had finished eating. I would gather my children and head off to play games and schmooze with the families and relatives of those of my closest friends. We would swap stories of how my southern mother made cornbread dressing and they only ate stuffing. Another friend’s family deep fried their turkey and this astounded me.
One year, however, I realized that I was walking into some awkwardness. It was almost as if they had just had cross words and were pretending that it was over, just for the sake of my family. The tension hung in the air like fog. For a few years after this, I stopped this crazy tradition. I stayed with my family, playing Clue and Monopoly or cards.
But as time moved on, I began to realize that part of the holiday fun was visiting someone else’s bucket of crazy. I was accustomed to my family’s nutty dynamic, but going to my friend’s house was exhilarating. First off, it made me feel WAY better about my family, but mostly I just wanted to divert the energy to a better place. There is something about having a stranger in the midst that causes the crazy to quiet. Maybe it is our attempt to make others think we are different from the rest. Whatever the case, I have decided to pick back up my tradition. No one has invited me over, for Yahtzee on the eve of Thanksgiving, but you can bet, if they do, I will be there. What will you do as a tradition on Thanksgiving? Do you eat at lunch time or are you a dinner time family? Do you faithfully watch the Macy’s Day Parade? Traditions are the fabric of a family, woven deep and meant to last. Try something new this year, or keep up with the old ones, either way, it is what makes a holiday special.