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Thanksgiving is for the birds!

I think the cooked turkey has a better time at Thanksgiving than I generally do.

I have never been particularly fond of Thanksgiving. I’ve disliked it since I was a child; a holiday sentiment that was unwittingly passed on to my sweet unassuming daughter. Hey, we have to have some kind of tradition!

When you get down to it, we should probably celebrate it by walking into somebody’s house and telling them we live there now. Pretty much what went down with Columbus. I’m leaving out the whole committing genocide against an entire colony of Native Americans. But why quibble about details?

Thanksgiving centers around oodles of time in the kitchen preparing a gluttonous meal only to be upstaged by the amount of time spent in the kitchen cleaning it up. It seems to be an exercise in excess and overindulgence. I’m not a fan of either (unless of course it involves chocolate).

I get the whole Norman Rockwell version of Thanksgiving but that’s not reality. In his beautiful portraits you never see people being uncomfortable, bored, irritated, tired or resentful. Thanksgiving brings out a lot of these feelings in many of us.

It is a time when you get to enjoy the family that you love and miss seeing. You also get to enjoy the company of those family members you wouldn’t mind hearing were kidnapped and have never been heard from again. Every family has at least one: a cousin, an uncle, an aunt, a sibling, whatever the relation, they tend to be the spoiler. The person you dodge while trying to be polite about it.

You drive for hours, arrive famished, visit with family while the television blasts the current football game in the background, the kids are screaming and running amok and the dog is trying to find a quiet place to hide. Who wouldn’t love it? That would be me.

In raising my daughter I participated in the family Thanksgiving for the first 10 years of her life. After that I gave her the gift of sanity. Well, my idea of sanity, anyway.

Each year we would order out an abundance of Chinese food with enough leftovers for two days. We would start a warm fire, play board games, watch a favorite old movie and stay in our pajamas all day. Then we would bake from scratch. It didn’t take long for her friends to migrate over to the house soon after their Thanksgiving dinner was done. After a couple of years I found myself with a house full of kids each Thanksgiving evening; a wonderful outcome to our new family custom.

I don’t want to sound preachy, but if we have family we love and miss, we should be getting our butts on a plane, train or automobile throughout the year. Time is shorter than we know, kids grow up fast, relatives pass on and life continues with or without us. I value my family and friends every day. I admit, it hasn’t always been this way, but time has a way of changing our priorities; and family and friends are a priority; every day. Do we really need a national holiday sitting around the table admiring a dead bird to show it? Gosh, I hope not.

Last year my daughter informed me that she would like to start her own Thanksgiving tradition. A recent transplant to L.A., she wanted to start a Thanksgiving evening for those friends of hers who also found themselves new to the city and without their families. This was the end of our traditional Thanksgiving day, and while it made me a little sad to not be included, I understood completely. Life changes and we change with it. She has done exactly what I taught her to do, create traditions of her own. Well done.

Traditions are nice but they have to work for you. When your parents are gone, your kids grown and you have friends who are alone, the landscape changes. New customs arise to accommodate our new needs and wants, as they should. Change is good and tradition is what you make it.

Each year I’ve saved a turkey, saved myself from cooking (THAT was the real holiday) and cleaning and allowed myself a calm and peaceful day. I think those days are over for me as my boyfriend craves the family experience. I understand and want to make him happy. Of course there will come a time when I will ask him to settle into a Thanksgiving evening of moo-shoo pork, sweet and sour chicken, Mongolian beef, old movies, board games and a crackling fire (ahh, I miss it already). Fair is fair.

This year holds a little irony for me as I go back a bit to my roots. We will be traveling 60 miles this year to be with my family (there will be 25+ us) so we can all have a sit down dinner of turkey. There will be rice and beans and tamales no doubt; a blending of culture and tradition. This year I shall love every moment of it. I can live without the turkey and fuss, but not without the family. They are, after all, top on my list of things to be grateful for.

However you choose to spend it, I wish you the very best of holiday. Happy Turkey Day to you all!

 

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Joan Cooper - Clevvvvveeer.

How can you like Halloween (so scary) and dislike Thanksgiving. Cranberry sauce slopped on everything is my favorite thing.

Remember these traditions were before TV, ipods, movies etc etc etc. They served a purpose. Notice no new traiditions have come forward in our more progressive society. Why is that?

Laura Lee Carter aka the Midlife Crisis Queen - Tammy:
Thanks for that LOL experience! So many great lines, especially the first one!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING GIRL!!!

-Laura

Suerae Stein - Hmmm… a chocolate Thanksgiving doesn’t sound so bad? We have changed our traditions over the years between moving and family changes. I hosted for a number of years after my mom got tired of it. Then my husband’s family wanted to have us and we had to let my parents know that this would be our new tradition, as it really is the only time my husband’s family gets together and we see my parents often and at Christmas. Thanksgiving and Christmas, for me always seem to be the tug and pull holidays, where you worry about where your loyalties should lie when there are two families involved. Sometimes we’ve even merged the families when distance allowed. Great post, Tammy – I hope you have a wonderful time this year!
~ Suerae

Tammy - Joan, I do love Halloween, I can’t lie. It’s so fun and colorful and so filled with … candy! No, as you can see, I’m not a big fan of Thanksgiving. I would imagine that in the days before TV, video games and what-not that the family gatherings were more of a “connect” and less of a drive-by. And I’m sure there are new traditions popping up all around us. Not having a tradition is a new one all by itself. As always…LOVE having you here. Have a good holiday; however you choose to celebrate it.

Tammy - Laura Lee, The very same to you….and the best of it. Thanks for being here!

Tammy - Suerae, you touched on something I did not and wish I would have; the perpetual tug/pull of the holiday. Loyalty is a tough thing to spread around, when it is cut in two it is perceived as being less loyal. A lose-lose proposition. Stressful. In the days of old everyone lived near (if not with) each other. In the age of bi-coastal jobs, romances, marriages, etc, families are not as accessible. I still lament the loss of the days with my little girl when we would laugh, share, play games and hug a lot. We still do all those things, of course, but on a much more limited scale. Traditions do wane by the side of the road as time goes by. Best we be flexible or we will too. New traditions are always around the corner, you are living proof. However and wherever you spend this Thanksgiving holiday, I truly hope it is all you want and need. Best to your family and thanks for posting. Always so happy to hear from you.

kellie kennedy - Yes I think the key is not allowing someone or one family to control everyone. It should be a choice of where everyone wants to go on holidays especially as u have different lives. One lone person should not call the shots over the holiday season. I am so glad in my family so days are o.v.e.r.!

Maryjo Faith Morgan - I agree totally – time is too short not to make being with those we love a priority. No matter what we share together in the food department (my Italian roots crave homemade ravioli!) and no matter whether we choose board games, cards or going to a holiday-release movie, it is the BEING together that counts!

Tammy - Maryjo, Oooooh, homemade ravioli sounds wonderful. Isn’t variety the spice of life!? Being together IS what counts, but I must add that these days I pick and choose who I spend my time with. I have friends that are just like family to me and I have family that I’m not too fond of. Being together with those you love and respect is awesome. About 20 years ago we began going to a holiday movie on Christmas day. The theaters were empty and it was no problem getting a parking space. Now it’s packed big time; a new tradition for many. The times … they are a changin’. Always great hearing from you, thanks for the post. Have a most wonderful holiday!

Tammy - Kellie, I remember asking my Aunt once at what point would I be able to be seated at the “adult” table. She told me when somebody died. Yikes. It was tradition that the eldest sat at the large table. So, in my house there has never been an adult or kid table. An eighty year old is no more important than an 8 year old, not to me. We are all precious, we are all important. If we can’t all sit together, we buffet it as best we can. It works out just fine. What works for some, doesn’t for others. But, you’re right, of course, one person should not be calling the shots over the holiday. Luckily, in my family, it’s never been the case. Thanks for sharing and have a great holiday with your family!

Kellie - oooh yes Tammy
I am 49 1/2 and never did make it off the kid table for turkey day (the only single person in the family who dare show up dateless! (by choice … shameful!). I only bring dates to such a family event if I care a bunch about that person in my life in a serious way. I did finally manage to make it to the adult table on my mom’s 80th b-day! I threw a hissy fit and said “yaaa lets do musical name card seating this time around!” You have a great Turkey Day gobble!

Maureen - Another great post Tammy – hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Tammy - Maureen, thanks so much, and the very same to you!

Fiona Villate - Tammy. Loved the blog. I can totally relate. Having not been raised in this country, Thanksgiving holds no real significance but having married an American who LOVES Thanksgiving I have learned to deal with it!! I have tried everything to go to a hotel or restaurant for the meal, but he has to have home cooked!! I have lucked out for the past 4 years as my sister-in-law has held the festivities (even though she can’t cook and has it catered). But inevitably this year it is my turn to cook. I have learned that with a couple of Appletinis, things go swimmingly well. Happy Thanksgiving? I hope so.

Marie - I think traditions are what we make of them and what gives meaning to our lives. When I was very young, we did the relative thing–hosted a Thanksgiving dinner at our house every year for two dozen or so relatives. Good thing my mom was a good cook and had a house full of daughters back then. Since then, we’ve had years where we planned family trips (turkey sandwiches at Disneyland come to mind), where we had just ourselves and where we spent the day with good friends. They’ve all been memorable in their own way, whether anyone else approved of celebrations or not–and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t trade any of them.

Tammy - Fiona, I absolutely LOVE your attitude! Yes, it’s your turn up at bat; not something I envy but you’re right, Apple-tinis (they are my ALL TIME favorite!) will help things go swimmingly well. The things we do for love! I shall keep my fingers crossed and will be thinking of you tomorrow. Would love to know what part of the world you hail from. I’m feeling pretty confident that you and your American husband will be making lots of new traditions in your life together. Can’t wait to hear about them. Good luck and am sending good turkey thoughts your way! Thanks so much for sharing … it’s awesome!

Tammy - Marie, so well said. So well said. Turkey sandwiches at Disneyland … awesome! I think we learn as we get older that it’s the people we are with and not the thing we are doing. Since I have been doing what I like with whom I like, I too would not trade one single memory. Before then, when I was doing what everyone else wanted of me I was pretty miserable. I remember one Christmas a stray cat we had just taken in took down our entire tree Christmas Eve. When we woke up the place was a shattered mess of tree limbs and broken ornaments. After the shock of it we had a pretty good laugh and still remember that Christmas mornings as one of our very best. I love your flexibilty and open mind. Doesn’t it just make life so much easier? Have a wonderful turkey day and thank you for being here. It means tons.

Cheryl - Tammy,
You are so on—–I just read your and other blogs and feel much better. I was lamenting that our day was very quiet and we went out to dinner. As you know, my family is on the outs since my mom died. Holidays are really much more enjoyable not having to deal with a certain sister. Thank you for helping me realize even holiday traditions change——-and that it is really a good thing. You are so witty and WISE.

Tammy - Cheryl, I think we are, many of us, in the same boat and a growing majority. Nothing stays the same, which is not to say that change is always easy to adjust to. Not in my case. But adjust we must, and when we surrender the past we find it so much easier to enjoy the present with all its new and different ‘traditions’. I understand how the holidays are more enjoyable without certain people in them. Believe me … you are NOT alone in that one. The difference these days is that we have the courage to cut these people off and not allow them to ruin our moments. Kudos to us! Thanks for your post, its awesome knowing you are on the other side of them.

Nancy Wurtzel - Oh, I LOVE your take on Thanksgiving, family traditions and expectations. Yes, the ability to adjust and start new traditions and seize the time with family and friends is so important. Thanks so much for sharing and I’ll be coming back to read!

Tammy - Nancy, it seems we have a lot in common. Both you and I have learned that adjusting isn’t quite as voluntary as we perhaps once thought. Damn. That’s okay, half the game is won just by showing up. That…I can do. So, my sister from another mother, I look forward to your reads and welcome you to mine. Wonderful having you here!

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