I hope the holiday weekend was good to everyone. I hope the sun rose bright and warm and flooded your kitchen with streams of light while you or your momma or your gramma or pops or sister or mother-in-law basted the turkey and rolled up their sleeves, saying something like “whew, it’s warm in here isn’t it?” as you cracked the window open, letting the crisp fall air billow in from outside.
I hope you helped make something wonderful to eat, like a cheesecake or pie or a cookie salad (yes, such thing exists). I hope you played games, took a walk, laughed really hard, maybe even danced a little before dessert.
I hope there was ping-pong or a game of spoons or maybe even a friendly round of poker on your list of things to do.
I hope there was a cheeseball. I really do.
Because these are traditions aren’t they? The ping-pong? The kitchen hot flashes? The cheeseball? Every family has them, the things that are constant in an ever-changing and unpredictable life. It’s my favorite thing about the holidays, to know that I will be in a kitchen somewhere with my mother and that there will always be turkey and pie…that I won’t be judged on this day for unbuttoning the top button of my pants…
Yes, some things remain constant…but some things sneak up on us. While we’re busy with that extra slice of cobbler things are tweaking and evolving and changing the world we know little by little until suddenly you find gray hair mixed in with the black ones and you look around to find that those who used to sit with you at the kids table now have kids of their own.
How the hell did that happen?
And as the family tree branches out, so do the holidays, turning aunts into grammas, grandma’s into great ones, best friends into uncles and cousins into mommas who are now wearing aprons and hosting their own Thanksgiving meals hundreds of miles away.
So our lives change taking with them some of our traditions. When I was growing up Thanksgiving was always held at my aunt K’s in South Dakota. It was one of my favorite holidays because it meant that we got to see my cousins and run in the hay bales, sing songs we made up and put on ridiculous plays about pilgrims and how the first Thanksgiving may have gone down in our naive and theatrical heads. One year we put my little sister and cousin in ridiculous hats, built them a homemade ship out of a cardboard box and sent them sailing over the living room as we subjected the rest of the family to our version of the story of how our great land was settled as I stood on one leg (the other was in a cast) waiting for the “pilgrims” to make it to shore.
That was one activity that thankfully never made it to “tradition” status.
I miss those days and my ugly sweaters. I miss my aunt’s cheesy potatoes and how watching her work in the kitchen made me feel like my grandmother was in the room . I miss listening to my brilliant cousins whine and moan while their dad requested one more song on the piano. I miss that music.
But now the turkey is in my cousin’s oven and she is the momma proudly requesting a performance from her gifted children and I am miles away with my nieces and nephews opening the window for my mother-in-law before scooping her gravy onto the hot turkey she’d been cooking since the early morning hours.
And I smile to myself because my mother-by-marriage reminds me a little of my aunt K. They way she effortlessly pulls it all together. The way she never loses her sweet and calm nature even when it’s 87 degrees in the kitchen and there are thirteen kids scrambling at her feet, the way her cheeks flush after her first glass of wine…
the way she forgot the sweet potatoes in the microwave until 10 pm….
Because even as time changes our circumstance, taking people we love from us, bringing into the world new little ones to adore, making us brave enough to try new recipes, to host our own Thanksgivings, to introduce someone to the family, even when weather snows us in, throwing us a sledding party after dessert, or gives us the gift of a 50 degree day in November, I love knowing there are a few things we can count on during this holiday:
One of them is turkey…
and the other is memories.
I hope you made some good ones this holiday.
Next year, the memories are at our house…
our new house.
And get ready, because the cheeseball will be epic.
P.S. It looks like our photography show may have to become a “day after Thanksgiving” tradition. If you missed it, no worries, our things are up all week at the Visitors Center in Watford City, so stop on by take a look and maybe, you know, finish your Christmas shopping 🙂