So many vignettes pass through my mind of holidays past.
I remember walking in the door my first time visiting my future husband’s HUGE family. In my graceless moment of shyness and confusion, I couldn’t distinguish the ones I had met before from those I had never seen. I stammered, stayed silent, and clung tenaciously to my boyfriend’s hand as he struggled to get away and enjoy his family.
Then there were the years of running house-to-house between my mother’s, my father’s, and my husband’s parents; bundling and unbundling children, eating one dinner after another, and yearning to begin my own traditions.
We had years of tradition when we ate the same dishes every year; my parents-in-law always brought the turkey. (Were we too poor to buy it or too lame to be trusted to cook it?) After dinner the family poured out the door to play street football with the neighbors in the crisp air. The older children tried to accommodate the young ones and the father’s were still competitive with their teenage sons.
The most memorable was in my career days when I invited lonely clients to dinner, couldn’t quite fuse my working self with my homemaker self and forgot to salt the potatoes…and maybe the gravy. Was that the day the cat jumped up on the dining room buffet and did a projectile vomiting act for the company? I think so.
I loved the days when we began the new tradition of cooking together with my children and their partners in the years when we declared “community cooking”. It was a melding of family favorites wen everyone made a dish that was absolutely necessary for their Thanksgiving. Those were the years of disjointed menus and the raucous cacophony of inexperienced cooks in the kitchen and mixing bowls being carried between the kitchen and the TV in the living room.
Last year marked the swan song of dinner with the parents/grandparents (us). Traditions move on. They break apart into pieces that are worked into the fabric of new generations. I’m not so sorry. Nostalgia for the past is just that: a sense of memories that I can either consider to be lost or appreciate as a part of the richness of my life. I choose the latter.
This year we are with our son’s family. Next year we will perhaps join another. My heart is big enough to send a bit of it to everyone I love. A text, a phone call, Skype or an email can carry my good wishes to everyone on a day which isn’t meant to hold a year’s worth of feelings. For me it is simply a day to be grateful for all of the people who fill my life and my years with joy.