Sunday, November 25, 2012

Who Gets the Tradition?

Before I was a single mom, I spent Thanksgiving gobbling up traditional trappings at an intimate gathering of...oh, about 70 people. Sometimes the gatherings were at someone's house; sometimes they were at a rented church hall. Marrying into this kind of holiday tradition was a change for me, but I tried my darnedest to fit right in. But as you know, if you've read any Roaring Moms posts at all, we have a Murphy's Law Life. What can go wrong, will go wrong.

There was the year I hosted the event at our Painted Lady Victorian Home. The only bathroom available to the hoards of family was upstairs, which was problematic enough. When the toilet boycotted and started spewing everything back up until it drained through the cracks in the ceiling and into the living room football lounge, that's when the real trouble started--and the guests left. Then there was the year I caught some nasty influenza virus literally the night before. Feeling it was too late to change venues and because it was potluck anyway, the hubby decided I could quarantine myself in the bedroom. You know, it might not have been too bad to lay in bed all day while someone else catered the meal and cleaned up, if I hadn't been on fire with fever and coughing up blood. It was awful!

Most Thanksgivings weren't so cursed. Just mine, of course. Nevertheless, chaotic, messy, noisy, crowded Thanksgivings have blessed my kids their entire lives. Their father and I deciding we would live in separate houses didn't need to change that for them.

For the past several years, my Thanksgivings have been comparatively smaller affairs--sometimes spent with my family, sometimes with my kids, sometimes with my friends, and once alone. That was fine too, because I treated myself to a big ol' stack of IHOP blueberry pancakes and no one was around to tell me that IHOP blueberry pancakes aren't Thanksgiving worthy. I've truly come to savor the small Thanksgiving. Our lives are chaotic, noisy, and messy on a daily basis. A quiet holiday that comes right after soccer and theatre season is quite welcome. There is nothing like a cozy fireplace, a cup of cocoa, the Macy's parade, a simple gathering, and a quiet day to pump me up for the Christmas season. At the end of it, I am honestly grateful that my children spent a crazy couple of hours with the cousins and battled Black Friday with that side of the family while I sat in my pajamas, stuffing my face. And I have never again had to plunge another toilet on Thanksgiving Day.

So regardless of what "the papers" that all divorced couples refer to like they are the third tablet to come down from Mt. Sinai say, the kids still get their chaotic Thanksgiving tradition with their cousins and aunts and uncles. And that's the way it should be. Through divorce, you might be able to split furniture and bank accounts evenly, but not traditions.

I hope any moms and dads from split families, blended families, and even dysfunctional families who might be reading this understand--you have your childhood holiday memories. It's time to make sure your kids get theirs. Whether that memory comes from a day with you or a with someone else who loves them shouldn't matter. Don't you want them to smile back on it for years to come? It's not the hours logged at one house that makes the memories. It's the laughter, the noise, the chaos, the cousins, the cozy cocoa, the quiet day. And maybe even the plunged toilets.

What are your most disastrous or most wonderful Thanksgiving memories?

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