Monday, November 21, 2011
Let Us Give Thanks
One year, my third son was to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. A Bar Mitzvah is a Jewish rite of passage and marks the moment when a 13-year old boy is considered an adult member of the congregation. (A Bat Mitzvah is the ritual for girls). It's a religious ceremony where the youngster leads prayers at the Sabbath morning service, usually followed by a luncheon for family and friends at the synagogue. We then planned to invite guests to our home for coffee and dessert and hold a party for kids later that night. But even with keeping everything relatively low-key, you can imagine that there was a fair amount of work involved, plus out-of-town guests to feed, cooking, baking, readying the house…you get the picture. I tell this story because that year I suggested to my immediate family that we eat out at a restaurant on Thanksgiving.
This was followed by dead silence.
And that was followed by an explosion of surprise and dismay. The concept of eating Thanksgiving anywhere but in our home, with the traditional turkey and trimmings, was absolutely appalling to my husband and kids. It was Thanksgiving, didn't I know that? Was I suggesting that we each make our own peanut butter sandwich for the main course? Why not go through the drive-through at McDonald's? (Actually that didn't sound like such a bad idea to the five-year old.)
As it happens, I'm not a huge turkey fan. I could, and often have, made a meal of the stuffing, side dishes, and of course, desserts. Nonetheless the family wanted the whole shebang. But what I realized is that while they wanted the traditional foods on the table, they mostly wanted the traditions they associated with our family's celebration. While no one should be a slave to tradition, part of family glue is to do certain things the same way every year, building a treasure trove of family memories.
A couple of years later, we journeyed out-of-town to have Thanksgiving with extended family. The food was superb, but when we came home, my kids clamored for "our own" Thanksgiving. And so, the Friday after Turkey Day, we had another traditional T-Day meal, although this one was one of those supermarket deals where we got the bird, stuffing, sides, two kinds of pies, gravy, and cranberry sauce, all for $50. And the hubby and kids slurped up every last crumb. But what everyone remembers, besides the fact that we ate two banquets in a row, is that, as in years past, we went around the table and shared the blessings of our lives, we laughed, we teased, we had fun, we were "us."
I know that our expressions of thanks should never be limited to one day a year. Still I'm happy to take a moment out of our busy lives to say aloud to those I love how very grateful I am for my life with an extraordinary family and incomparable friends. I am blessed indeed.
From both halves of Evelyn David, and all members of the Stiletto Gang, best wishes for a happy holiday full of joy and peace. Please share your favorite Thanksgiving memory – sweet, funny, poignant, you choose.
And may I add my thanks to the anonymous author who wrote of Thanksgiving:
The thing I'm most thankful for right now is elastic waistbands.
Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David
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