Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving Traditions

I hope that you all had wonderful Thanksgiving celebrations with you families! Daniel and I certainly did. It turned out that I was able to eat pretty much every dish, despite my worries about feeling sick beforehand. Apparently it’s just chicken that bothers me—turkey’s great! This was a discovery I was very relieved to make.

As is the tradition, my aunt, uncle, and eight cousins from Ohio came down to my parents’ house, and the two oldest who are closest to my age slept at our house. So did Marie, and the five of us (Daniel, Marie, cousins Rose and Therese, and me) spent our evenings playing Rock Band—we are such awesome grown-ups!

On Thanksgiving Day 22 people, aged two to eighty, ate turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, etc. at three tables in my parents’ dining and living rooms. After dinner, Daniel and I drove the 45 minutes to his parents’ house for pie and eggnog with his family. Daniel’s grandparents and one of his sisters and her boyfriend were there for dinner, but unfortunately had to leave almost immediately after we arrived. So, we had dessert with his parents alone, but it was still nice—and of course, still delicious!

Thus Daniel and I had our first married Thanksgiving, and it was wonderful being able to share it all with each other. Since our families live near one another, not much had to change in the way of traditions.

It was strange (wonderful, of course, but still strange) to think about what Thanksgiving will be like next year, when we will have a five and a half month old baby to be taking care of. Will anything have to change in our traditions then? There certainly won’t be late-night Rock Band tours in our living room, which is adjacent to the soon-to-be nursery. That’s really not such a big deal, but what about in years to come? Will there come a time in the not-too-distant future when my family from Ohio stops coming to Maryland for Thanksgiving, which is often the only time during the year that we see them?

When more of my siblings and cousins get married and have kids (I am the very first), it would only make sense for things to have to change. I’m reminded of the Johnson & Johnson commercial that says, “Having a baby changes everything.” I’m sure that having a baby will be every bit worth it and will mostly change things for the better, but there are some things that I just don’t want to change. Like the close friendship that my siblings and I have always shared with the cousins we usually only are able to see once a year. If Thanksgiving traditions change, what happens then?

Can anyone who has already experienced this kind of inevitable (it seems) changing of traditions share some words of encouragement/advice/reassurance? I’d really appreciate it. Being the third oldest of the 29 of my grandparents’ grandchildren on one side of the family and the oldest of my parents’ seven children makes this all new territory for me.


Catholic Mommy Brain said...

The changing of our Christmas traditions has been very hard-- especially for my younger sister (who is 24 lol). We regularly traveled to a small farm town 9 hours away, and it was often the only time each year that we saw many of our family members. After many years of dangerous driving weather, my parents decided we would stop going at Christmas. We have a 2 year old and a baby on the way, so it hasn't been easy to get there at other times. But we've made the effort. As much as we miss our original traditions, we have those cherished memories. And with our son, we are now making new traditions and new memories to cherish. You will too. :)

Kat said...

We have learned that we should do what's best for us as a family. Sometimes it is difficult to say no to extended family or friends or change tradition but that just means you make new traditions in your new growing family.

Kathy said...


I appreciate your blog and check it often. I am getting married in June and am grateful for the insights you have provided.

Although I am the oldest of 5 children in my family, I am the fourth to be married. I have 5 nephews and 1 niece. Our family traditions have changed a lot from what I experienced as a child, but I cannot say they are better or worse. As a child, we went to my grandparents' for Thanksgiving. After they passed away, we celebrated as a family (my household family). At that time, there were no nephews/nieces yet. Gradually, babies were born, more significant others and eventually spouses joined the table, and now, my cousin and his wife also come over to celebrate with us. These changes sort of happened gradually (other than my grandma passing away, but really, even that was sort of grandfather died 9 years earlier...).

I think it is important to keep two things in mind:

1. It was tough for me to pass up Thanksgiving dinner at home (where I knew all the good foods I could expect) for Thanksgiving with my fiance, but when one stops to think, it's only fair that everyone gets to have Thanksgiving at "home" in turn. So, I would say to just be open to the ways spouses (yours and your siblings) being around can cause changes in how we celebrate. It doesn't always feel ideal, but I know I wouldn't want my fiance's parents to sit home alone while we had 25 people here, and my fiance's dad doesn't travel well.

2. Relish the memories of Thanksgivings as you grew up and be open to the changes that will be the Thanksgivings your children will remember.

Keep blogging! Good luck with pregnancy (and congrats!).