During my childhood, Thanksgiving Day was a much-anticipated event. I loved helping my mother cook and decorate, reuniting with family we hadn’t seen for months, having days off from school and plenty of time to play and/or read, and of course putting up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving Day. Then I went away to college and while I came home for the day I participated less in the preparations and had less quiet time because I was the one visiting family and friends. I still anticipated the holiday but how I celebrated had changed. That pattern continued until I married and joined the US Navy. Suddenly I was either working or too far from home to celebrate with my childhood family. My husband and I developed a few new traditions for the day, and we learned to be grateful for each other and the opportunity we had to serve our country. Then our children came along, and I got to play my mother’s role. I was the one in charge of the baking and the prep. Thank heaven my husband not only wanted to take charge of the turkey but did (and still does) a darned fine job of it. In addition, because my two boys were very different children than me and my sister were, I had to adapt those family traditions once more and once more giving thanks had evolved. At long last we left the Navy for the civilian life and returned to our home state, although not to our hometown. We now lived across the state from my husband’s family and my folks had moved to Florida. Thanksgiving celebrations took on several new forms and either way we traveled–to my folks in Florida or around the state to the homes of various family members. Once we even held the get together at our own home, and somehow that felt the most odd. Now my sons live in their own homes but traveling is more expensive so we see less of each other. All of the family is busy, so we very rarely celebrate on Thanksgiving Day. Some years there are fewer of us at the table. Some years we all manage to gather and give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving is once more evolving. My parents and my father-in-law have all passed away. They are deeply missed. The changes wrought by busy adult lives make us all the more grateful for the times we can share together. As my husband and I age Thanksgiving Day traditions will continue to evolve but family and gratitude remain constant.
Please leave a comment and tell me about your Thanksgiving traditions or how you plan to celebrate the day this year.