I used to have visions of lovely tables with artful placecards and cloth napkins, freshly bathed children and of-the-earth side dishes adorning a perfectly cooked organic free range turkey. This would be secondary, of course, to our long cherished holiday traditions rife with homemade charm and heartfelt sharing (see lovely note above). We would be one of those families, the ones that make your mouth gape open when you read about them in Mothering magazine. The ones who are so casually down to earth that surely they can only be nothing but absolutely perfect.
The real Thanksgiving (at least at my house) is way more complicated. There are no discernible traditions to speak of. We are more the pajama, wear-what-you-had-on yesterday kind of celebrants. The dishes are laden with preservatives, cream, butter and an ungodly amount of bacon. The guests are from down the street, up the block, around the world--a collection of stray friends with no where else to go, not to mention the occasional stranger.
This is how we do the holidays--laid back, open to outsiders, and for the most part, fairly stress-free.
There's no way to know which pieces of our holiday habits our kids will hold on to twenty Thanksgivings from now. I don't think my mother had any idea how all those years in the kitchen would turn out to be the most cherished memory of all--even if in reality she spent years doing all of the cooking before we were old enough to help. Still, these little quirky things we keep returning to are the stuff of our holiday stories. Our attempts at perfection will quickly be forgotten, but all the rest? That will stay, and for this I'm so, so glad.
Here's a little holiday survey to take with your kids. Use these questions on your own tribe or answer for yourself.
Do you have any memories of Thanksgiving when you were a little kid? (Little kids especially love to answer this kind of question.)
What's your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?
Do you have a secret Thanksgiving wish?
Comments are open for your favorite replies.