No Two Are The Same
It is funny to think about Thanksgiving traditions. Growing up, no Thanksgiving was the same. Some years we would spend it with our extended family, some years it was just the three of us. My mom, my twin sister and me.
Sometimes we cooked and sometimes we went out. Of course my twin sister and I always wanted a nice traditional meal that you see in the movies with the family around the table and a huge meal. But my mother was not all that into traditions (on any holiday) and usually only honored them when she knew it would devastate us not to. But even then, sometimes she would decide that we were going to do something different. I remember crying one year because she took us to Boston Market for Thanksgiving dinner. To us, as 9 year olds, it seemed like the end of the world. It made it seem like it was just any other day. Oh how silly I feel now.
Create Your Own Thanksgiving Traditions
Yet even when we would go to my grandma’s house with our dad’s side of the family all around the table, we found it also hollow. Those of you who read my last piece about a father-sized hole will understand why. So this led my sister and I to pursue tradition with more zeal than most kids have about anything. We desperately clung to our own little traditions.
We loved watching the Macy’s Parade on TV and then Christmas movies. As we got older and moved in with our aunt, we added going to the movie theatre and decorating the apartment for Christmas to our list of traditions. They were little things that seem inconsequential but meant the world to us. It made it real and when I picture it, my memories are held in a soft warm glow.
In college and grad school we ended up either visiting each other or celebrating “friendsgiving” together in another location. Those may have been the most fun because of our cooking misadventures. I still have a distinct memory of finding innards where we tried to put the stuffing and the hilarious panic that ensued. Another year, we made a huge feast but neither of us had a dining room table so we ate on the floor and watched every “Friends” Thanksgiving episode.
Now as we are both in serious relationships (me being married and her well on her way) we spend Thanksgiving with our significant others’ families. It is lovely, really. I love spending the holidays with my in-laws. They are not American so every Thanksgiving brings a new exciting experience. But when I wake up on Thanksgiving Day, all I want to do is run down stairs in my over sized onesie with my twin and turn on the parade and eat cinnamon rolls with coffee. For us, Thanksgiving was never really about the food, although I feel my mouth-watering now just thinking of pumpkin pie, and I never cared for Black Friday shopping.
Finding Our Place
Thanksgiving was always about our search to find our place. Our search to find our little family. And it took the evolution of Thanksgivings, the letting go of some traditions in exchange for others, to realize what it is really for and that together, we had our own little family. Now I will not pretend that I am some overly mature 27-year-old who is completely denied her materialist tendencies and done away with the superficial delights of the season (literally anything pumpkin spiced will captivate my attention). But on Thanksgiving morning, I remember that all I really want for that day, is to be around the people I love and to try harder than ever to notice how much I am blessed.
This probably sounds like a lot of stuff you are reading this time of year. Diatribes of the importance of family and gratefulness…etc. But I will urge you, with just a gentle nudge that it really is important to recognize the things you would miss if they were not there next year.
I will also make a request as someone who worked in retail for far too long, do not shop on Thanksgiving. Stay home, be lazy with your kids or parents or siblings. Eat that extra piece of pie and stare at a roaring fire or pop in a movie. Whatever they are selling at the stores is nothing in comparison to the memories you make from silly, thanksgiving feast recovery time. And I can honestly tell you that I can not remember the Christmas gifts I got from even last year nor when they were purchased but I do remember the conversations had and people met this time last year.
So grab the people you love, try to cook a feast, fail at least once (that’s very important) and spend time making your own small traditions.
Alexis Ali lives in New York and hold a Master’s degree in Linguistics. She is a freelance writer, sings and has a love for photography. Alexis is our main short-story series writing and has done two series for us to date: “The Unfortunate Life of An Interesting Woman,” and “Adele’s Pattern: A Journey to Redemption.” Her most recent post was part of our Emptiness series and you can read it here.
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