Traditions. Family. Food. Travel. Love.

November 21, 2021

Traditions. Family. Food. Travel. Love. All of these topics come to mind this time of year.

When Thanksgiving approaches in my house, the first determination is where it will be held. – Whose turn is it to host? Which family did we see last year? Where did we stay? Who cooked what? As a child, all of that was determined for me. Now that I’m an adult, I have to carefully plan where we will travel and what we will do. Neither my husband nor I live in the same state in which we grew. The idea of driving on the NJ Turnpike to get to New York, or over the mountains and literally through the woods to get to Pennsylvania this time of year NEVER excites me, but the idea that IF we can endure the traffic or wacky road conditions and the countless “how much longer” remarks, we can spend an extended holiday with family. This entices me every time.

When we host Thanksgiving here, there are many other questions that come to mind. – Did I thaw the turkey long enough? Will it be fully cooked? Do I have enough potatoes? Will I forget the bread? Again? Did I time this correctly? (For the record – this is usually no. Last year I had the turkey ready at 10 am. Nothing else was ready, including the people. Oops.) Is there enough food? Is there too much food?

Going elsewhere, I ask other questions. – Will my aunt make the squash soup that’s been a family tradition for years? Will Mee-Maw make her famous potato salad? Should I make one pumpkin pie or two? What if someone else makes the pumpkin pie? What will I contribute? Will we see ___?

What connects the holiday no matter where it is held is the food, the family, the laughs, and the love. As a younger adult, there was a rush to get back home and see childhood friends who also returned. Spending time with them was always silly and fun and a reminder of who we were and who we had become. Now, the rush home is to spend time with family. That time is so precious. We all know that we need to take advantage of and fully appreciate all the family time we can get. I feel like I know this all too well; I lost my parents nearly 15 years ago. They passed much too young at the ages of 57 and 58. Missing them at the table this time of year is very real, but so are the traditions and food that we continue to keep a part of our Thanksgiving. They keep my mom and dad here with me and with my children. Through stories, food, and music, they are a part of our holiday traditions and I can share these experiences with my children, even though they never physically met my parents. I have a feeling that you, too, have traditions, stories, and food that are a part of your holidays that bring people from your past to life. Warm memories bring warm smiles. I hope that you are able to experience these memories with your families and with your children at Thanksgiving this year.

Time truly does fly. My oldest is as tall as I am now. I still replay his first Thanksgiving in my mind, and yet here he is, 12-years-old and asking to help carve the turkey! Trying to appreciate all these moments is difficult and stressful, yet we all know it is important. Please give yourself grace and sit back to just enjoy the little moments. You don’t even have to do anything special – just eat and chat and smile and laugh. To quote a favorite movie of my youth, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

As we all embark on our trips or settle in at home to enjoy our Thanksgiving holiday, know that I am grateful for all of you. Your children are amazing little human beings and I am lucky to have them in my life! Be safe, be healthy, and be happy! Enjoy this time. Enjoy the food. Enjoy the traditions. Enjoy your family.

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A Leaf HuntHi! I’m Connor.

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