Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions

Everyone has favorite holidays. Mine are usually the ones involving presents ☺ Glittery, expensive presents! But there’s something about Thanksgiving that has always appealed to me, even when I was a kid, and that’s the time spent with family.

I love everything about the holiday. The smells, the preparations, the food…but mostly I love being surrounded by loved ones the entire day (or if I’m lucky, for several days.)

When I was a kid we’d go to my grandparents, about fifty miles away. They lived in this little two bedroom house that would be jammed with all my cousins, aunts and uncles. I don’t recall a thing about the food in those days, just the smells, the crowd and spending time with cousins I only got to see on holidays.

When I got married, we shifted to spending time at my parents or my husbands’. Again we were surrounded by brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. And it was my kids who looked forward to spending time with their cousins.

For the last several years Thanksgiving has been at my house. My in-laws and my dad and sister come and whichever of my husband’s siblings / kids who choose to. We usually have a few friends of my kids in and out all day. The house is filled with people, babies and dogs (which I could do without!) But my family is up to 13 these days so the house is overflowing for a few days.

And then there are the crazy traditions that my kids started for each special day. The thing I discovered raising four sons is that they never outgrow games. They have turned Thanksgiving into a ‘bowling holiday’. Which means in the evening after dishes we trail down to the bowling alley for a howling good time.

Which brings us to the day after Thanksgiving, the real highlight of our Thanksgiving weekend. Because my kids are sports fanatics, every holiday has to include some sort of athletics. The Friday after Thanksgiving is the annual Stud Bowl ☺ Seriously. All my sons’ friends who are home visiting (and occasionally my daughter) have a football game in the lot across the street. They even don their old high school jerseys and rag tag clothing and go out to relive the glories of their youth. It usually ends with the twenty-somethings groaning about being too old for that kind of thing, and the parents exchanging knowing looks about what’s to come if they think they’re hurting now! Later both teams trail back to our place where I’ll have several kinds of soup waiting.

That’s what I love about the holiday. A house full of people, a constant stream of visitors and hilarious times. The dogs I can do without. But that’s another post!

It seems like everything in our lives evolves in stages. What are your traditions for the holidays? Has your family come up with new customs that have become part of your yearly celebration?


Keri Ford said...

We all flock to grandma's house for thanksgiving at noon-to one'ish. The crowd gets bigger every year as us grandkids now have kids of our own!

We (the girls) watch the parade until the men come in and change it to football.

Kylie said...

Funny how when I was going to Grandma's house it never occurred to me how much work is involved! At least when we went to my m-i-l's house everyone brought something.

We'll have football going on one TV, the Wii on another and a movie for the little ones on another. Noise level is through the roof :)

Betina Krahn said...

Kylie, your Thanksgiving sounds like Heaven. Lots of loved ones, lots of craziness and fun. Thanksgiving is usually the holiday where I regret (once again) having only two kids. But it's my favorite of the holidays. the food, the sounds, the family.

It does change a bit when the elder generation begins to go. . . the passing of the baton is always bittersweet.

Kylie said...

You're so right, Betina. I still miss my grandparents so much because they figured so large in my life.

Craziness is always in abundant supply at my house! I have three sons who think they are in competition for comic of the year so it gets to be like a long running routine!

My mil was very happy to pass the baton, so to speak LOL! She announced at about age 72 that she was 'too old' to do holidays anymore. Since no one else volunteers I host them all. Shrug. Easier for my kids so they don't have to travel as much. But I do miss all the nieces and nephews who have started their own traditions with their families.

Cindy Gerard said...

Time marches so quickly these days. Once upon a time my hubby and I and our son would join my sister and her hubby and their 2 boys at my parents for the big Turkey day. Mom would cook like crazy all the while talking about what would be good for the Christmas dinner menu. We used to tease her about planning Thanksgiving at Easter because she was always planning ahead so far.
Now the gathering is at my sister's and we're the ones with the grand kids. Mom and Dad are both gone but I'm so thankful for all the wonderful memories of those earlier Thanksgivings and that my family is close enough to gather together, demolish that turkey and spend the afternoon watching football games and playing cards.

Kylie said...

You're right, Cindy these days are all about spending time with family. Part of our tradition (one I can do without) is my husband standing in the kitchen telling me I'm making way too much food, no one is going to eat that, I need to cut back, etc. And then he's packing up leftovers later for the kids, telling them we planned to make this much so they could take some home, LOL.

It's fun to hear my kids talk about *their* holiday memories these days.

lois greiman said...

I'm not good with holidays or traditions. I don't know why that is. I'm not even great with crowds. My favorite times is when I just have one of the kids alllll to myself. But I'm going to try to do better.

Kylie said...

It is fun to have one of your kids all to yourself, Lois. That changes when they marry and have kids and are running to and fro trying to get to all the relatives on both sides of their family.

I've found it's easier when we go to visit the married ones. Still not all to myself, but no distractions around and we can just relax and enjoy (hopefully!) each other's company.

Playground Monitor said...

I grew up in the same town with all my grandparents. Then once I got married, the DH's job took us far away from both sets of parents. At one point we were across the Atlantic. So our married holidays have always been more low key. On occassion we've had my mom or his or my sister and her husband and son. But never a huge crowd.

In 2000, though, my side of the family gathered on St. Simons Island where my mom and sister live. It was my mom, me and my sister and our spouses and boys, my mom's brother and his wife and their two kids with spouses and a kid apiece. We all had Christmas brunch at the Jekyll Island Club (no mess for mom to clean up) and then had an easy spaghetti dinner that night at my sister's house. It was such fun.

Now one of my boys is married so we have to share him with his wife's family. They won't be here for T'giving (he has a big architecture board exam a week from today) but they'll be here at Christmas, with the grandbaby in tow. Only she's not such a baby. I heard just this morning she's wearing big girl panties now. :-)

I love your Stud Bowl. That's such a hoot! We don't have any real holiday traditions; we just try to enjoy each other's company. And eat. LOL!


Playground Monitor said...
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Debra Dixon said...

Everyone comes here now. For Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We have the annual scrubbing of the house.

Other than that we're really informal for Thanksgiving.

My best friend has become part of the family. Her mom moved to Florida so at least one of the big two holidays, she'll hang with us.

We take in strays. That's a tradition.

Kylie said...

Marilyn, the one time you all were able to get together must be such a wonderful memory!

When I was still at home and my siblings were on the coast, most of the afternoon on holidays was spent talking on the phone to those who couldn't be there. So in a way, we still got to share the holiday with them.

Kylie said...

Debra, I totally get you on the 'strays'. Over the years we had two of our sons friends live with us and one of them will join us for Thanksgiving. He just lost his dad this year and feels like a member of the family. Another of the kids' friends who grew up at our house will popping in too.

Our town is small enough that the night before Thanksgiving I like to go down to the local sports bar for an hour or two just to be able to speak to all the kids' friends who are back in town for a couple days. It's fun to be able to catch up with them.

And scrubbing the house--yikes! My cleaners aren't coming next week! The family will be pressed into servitude yet again!

Playground Monitor said...

My husband's laptop has a built-in webcam and I'm thinking about buying a webcam for the married son so I can talk to the grandbaby online. My uncle does that with his ten-year-old grandson who has known how to operate the webcam on his own for a year or so. We only live two hours from the grandbaby but between the DH's job and theirs, it's hard to find time to visit sometimes, and a phone call just isn't quite the same.


Kylie said...

Marilyn the web cam idea is wonderful. I bought one for my son so I could see my grandsons more often (they live five hours away) but he never did use it.

The new Macs are cool because they have the web cam built in but you have to be talking to someone else on a Mac to use the i-chat feature.

Michele Hauf said...

EVery Thanksgiving we hold a Scene-It tournament. You know the trivia game with the DVD that shows scenes from movies?
We have a trophy that gets passed back and forth. It's ugly. And that's the fun of it--winner gets the ugly trophy and has to display it in their home for that year.

Kylie said...

That sounds like a riot, Michele! I love that game.

Some friends and I have a butt ugly birthday fairy that gets passed around. I only have to keep it for three weeks so my display time isn't long, LOL.

Playground Monitor said...

One of the women in my RWA chapter told us about the family fruit cake. It's been passed around for years and years. Someone sealed it in something so it won't smell, and of course fruit cake never rots. They have a dirty Santa exchange and the fruit cake is always part of the exchange.

Kylie said...

Marilyn, I'd be hard pressed to accept the fruit cake, sealed or not! I'll bet people go to long lengths to avoid taking that sucker home!