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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sneaky Traditions by Robin Delany

My family has always had the tradition of spending Thanksgiving together. We play games, laugh, eat, and have lots of fun. Sadly, when my husband and I moved to Northern California, we realized that taking two ten-hour drives in two months with two preschoolers wouldn’t be realistic. We had to give up the fun large family Thanksgiving in favor of a small family one, and in doing so, we lost our usual traditions.

For me, traditions and family are a very important part of the holidays, so I’ve been trying to make some of my own traditions to make up for the traditions we lost. I haven’t been able to come up with any, though I’ve tried. The first year, I boycotted. We didn’t do anything Thanksgiving-y. We did visit with some friends who have a large family event, but I was so into my boycott (and I wanted to make Ebelskivers), we decided to buy different foods from different countries and have them, instead of the usual holiday fare. The next year, I still hadn’t decided what traditions to add. I picked up a happy Thanksgiving scarecrow, which I intended to put out each year. I tried to come up with some Elf on the Shelf sort of idea with it, but the kids didn’t even seem to notice if the scarecrow on the shelf was happy with them. I guess they didn’t care if the scarecrow brought them turkey for Thanksgiving or not.

Harrumph, no new holiday tradition there.

So I bought a small, precooked turkey breast and made Mac-n-cheese for the side. The next day I was so tired, I tossed together a bunch of things from the freezer, since we didn’t have leftovers. We had spinach pie, paella, some naan, and some Asian dumplings I’d  picked up from Trader Joes.

This year, I tried making my own Thanksgiving food from scratch, but that was just too exhausting to be a new tradition. We went to the holiday parade, which we’ve done for the past two years, and we were running late,  so we  stopped at Trader Joes again. I wanted something with chicken, my husband wanted something Indian, my daughter wanted bagels. Rather than fight about it, we got them all and went home to cook them up and head to the parade.

That was when I realized that my family has a holiday tradition, and it’s a great one. It may not have been intentionally adopted, and in fact, it snuck up on us without our even noticing, but this was our third annual international day! At the annual Christmas parade, we had Chicken Valencia, Aloo Chaat (a hot pocket, masala style), bagels with cream cheese, and Kinder Buenos for desert.

I can’t think of a better thing to do, the day after celebrating the things that make our country and our lives wonderful, than to celebrate the other countries and cultures that share our world. In fact, next year I think we’ll add some objects from one of the different countries, or perhaps learn some new fact about one of them—maybe both. That way we, as a family, can appreciate more things about those countries than their delicious dishes.

What holiday traditions do you have, and have any of them snuck up on you?

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  1. My hubby, the kids, and I have a tradition of going to an amusement park every Memorial Day weekend. It's the same park my husband loved when he was a kid, so we took our son one year and have continued the trips through the years. The only year we missed was right after our daughter was born. We make a weekend of it and always stay in the same hotel. The kids love it and so do we. :)

    1. Wow, that sounds like a great tradition. I've been looking for a finishing the manuscript tradition and that sounds like a fun one. :D Thanks for sharing.

  2. This year has been a bit of an uproar for me, so any traditions I had have been scrapped. I'm looking forward to starting anew next year!

    1. I know how that goes. :D Good luck to you, and thanks for commenting!

  3. We have so many traditions!
    1. We have a tradition of going apple picking and pumpkin picking at a farm in Connecticut.
    2. My favorite tradition is going to cut our tree down at a local tree farm in the valley of Connecticut. We all race to the top of the mountain to find the perfect tree (and fight over who has made the selection)! One of the favorite parts of the day is the tailgating before-hand.
    3. Another tradition we have is to wait until our son goes to bed and decorate the house for when he wakes up on his birthday morn.
    Unfortunately, being on bedrest has prevented me from carrying out our holiday tradition. It's been hard not doing that with my family...but I just think to the future when I have all three of my children and husband there to build off of old and new traditions!

    1. How cute that you decorate for his b-day after he goes to bed. I'm definitely going to have to borrow that one. I love the idea of going apple picking too.

  4. Hi Robin!
    I know exactly how you feel. We are from Indiana, which is a 12 hour trip from North Carolina (although, I've made it in 10 flat--and that includes the time spent with the cop that pulled me over. Don't ask). We had 3 kids in 3 years, so traveling 12 hours for Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas wasn't feasible--in time or money. So we had to make our own traditions too. Somehow, we ended up with my husband doing the cooking while I decorate for Christmas with the kids. I don't know how I got off so easy but I'll take it!

    1. That is getting off easy! I'd much rather decorate than cook. :)

    2. Wow! You did get a good deal on that one. My husband would cook, but it would be a pound of pasta with sauce from a jar. lol Thanks for commenting.