THE BLOG
11/26/2014 07:02 am ET Updated Jan 26, 2015

The Thanksgiving Traditions That Remain Sacred

As we age, there's a tendency to let go of some of the traditions that have always been part of our holidays. They often seem like a lot more work than we're willing to do, and since many of us now spend our holidays at our children's homes, allowing them to start their own traditions, why bother? Looking back at past holidays, we often wonder how we were able to do it all. Gifts, cooking, entertaining. Whew! Get tired just thinking of everything I used to do, hoping that the family and friends would enjoy the holidays.

What I found is, it had become easier to not decorate the house quite as much as I used to, not bake as many of the traditional holiday goodies, and it was certainly much easier to give checks to everyone, rather than shop for the perfect gifts for them. I used the excuse that since we were spending Christmas morning and Christmas dinner at our children's homes, as well as Thanksgiving, it really wasn't all that necessary now. I may have been lessening my work load, but I hadn't realized the impact it was having on my children. That wake-up call came when my daughter asked me a few years ago if I would bring my coffee cake to their house on Christmas morning. I'd always baked one and we ate it Christmas morning while we unwrapped presents. Then she asked if I would bring a few things to Christmas dinner. She told me they were part of the spirit of Christmas for her and she'd really missed them.

She's right, I thought. I've stopped doing a lot of the things I used to do because there wasn't as much happening here at my house now that one of my children was a good plane ride away and the other was starting family traditions for her family. Maybe on some level I figured I could just slide with it and no one would notice. Not so! I decided it was time for me to make a new tradition. Christmas Eve dinner would always be at our house. It gave me a reason to decorate the house and cook the things that made our holidays special to all of us.

This morning my daughter asked me if I'd mind having Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year. She told me she'd enjoyed doing it, but it wasn't the same as she remembered growing up and she missed it. She said maybe we could alternate years. Absolutely!

If you're like me, you probably have certain traditional things you serve at Thanksgiving and a memory of them. I want my children to establish their own traditions so their children develop fond memories of special things. What I didn't realize was that my children still have childhood memories of certain foods and traditions that were a part of the holidays for them.

As much as I love to cook and experiment with food, some things are sacred. I would be violating the sacred Thanksgiving meal if yams or sweet potatoes weren't served. And if I ever forgot the dressing that, according to my husband, isn't dressing unless it has sausage in it, there would probably be an uprising, at least on his part. May not be to your taste, but was certainly part of our traditional meal.

It's also about the memories we have of past holidays. It might be as simple as what someone always said or did at the meal. It doesn't seem like that particular holiday unless it happens. For example, when everyone was seated and ready to be served at the Thanksgiving dinner meal, my husband would always ask each person, "Would you like white or dark meat?" Funny thing is, I remember his father saying the same words. I'd bet everything my husband will say it this year, just as he always did in years past. I never told my daughter, but even though Thanksgiving dinner was at her house, I still cooked my own turkey. Black Friday without turkey sandwiches? Not to even be contemplated!

I'm really looking forward to the holidays and it's nice to know that the children, grown as they are, still want to repeat some of their memories at their parent's home.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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