Aging with Grace: New Traditions
by Grace Harrison
I guess we can’t expect that long-held traditions will stay the same as our children grow into adults, move out, and flourish beyond the family home. Of course, one can always hope. But hope only hangs on for so long before reality sets in.
This year, I spent my very first Thanksgiving without my siblings and without my mother. It was the first time in my life I spent the holiday in anyone else’s home but mine or my mom’s. Our family doesn’t typically celebrate the other more traditional holidays together. Whether it’s Christmas, Chanukah, New Year’s, Easter, Passover, Kwanzaa, MLK Day, Cinco de Mayo, or any other major holiday, we do our own thing with other family or friends. But Thanksgiving is the one and only holiday that we’ve always celebrated together as family.
A few months ago, my oldest son was in town from California for work. Unbeknownst to him, I had received a text message from his sister inquiring whether I was going to go to the West Coast for Thanksgiving. He had just recently bought his first home—the first of my children to do so—so it made sense that he might be considering having Thanksgiving there. So I asked him.
He looked up in shock and sputtered, “Uh, well, yeah. I was thinking about it. Would you come?”
I think he nearly died of shock when, without batting any eye, I replied with certainty, “I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
And so the wheels were set in motion. He cautioned me not to do any planning just yet, as he still needed to check with his father, siblings, and soon-to-be wife. I paid no attention and immediately booked flights, hotel, and rental car on Expedia before all the rates skyrocketed. I figured the worst that could happen was that I would have to spend Thanksgiving in California. How bad could that be?
There comes a time when traditions change, and you need to change with them gracefully. It would be ridiculous for me to think that nothing will change and that everything will stay the same. So we flew into California for a new tradition: Thanksgiving at my son’s house in Laguna Beach. My middle son came with his girlfriend. He couldn’t afford the flight for her, so I paid. Then I paid for my daughter to come from Colorado, even though that she flew in with her dad and his new girlfriend. Some things never change.
The siblings all stayed with their oldest brother. The other adults all booked hotels. We were on the West Coast, not the East Coast. Everything was going to be different. My sister and brother of course were having Thanksgiving with mom, but I wasn’t with them, so I wouldn’t have to follow the old, familiar routines we had practiced for so long, which included sitting in my “regular” seat next to my sister, which was closest to the kitchen so I could conveniently help serve and clear.
At the table in California on Thursday late afternoon, all of my children said they were grateful to be spending Thanksgiving with both their mom and dad for the first time in nearly twenty-five years. But we didn’t play the usual games of Pictionary or Guesstures. The games we did play were more about drinking than thinking. We didn’t see our annual Friday afternoon family movie at the cinema or have left-over turkey dinner on Friday night. We didn’t all sleep over in the same house and stay up late talking or wake up early and chat over coffee and a big family breakfast. There was no winterish horse-drawn sleigh ride or football in the yard. None of us ran the Turkey Trot at the high school where I grew up.
We shopped on Black Friday, went to the beach on Saturday. Later the boys all played golf while the girls did yoga.
But we did laugh together, talk loudly, hug a lot, and started some new traditions. All I know is that I spent Thanksgiving with my children, and that’s the best tradition of all.
Photo credits: history.com and modernfarmer.com
Grace Harrison is a Silver Sager and proud of it. She's a ghost writer for national and local magazines. She is excited to write a regular column for Silver Sage Magazine and hopes readers will enjoy her musings.