Viewpoints: A tradition of connection

View From The River
Published: 11/22/2019 5:39:30 PM
Modified: 11/22/2019 5:39:16 PM

Our family celebrated Thanksgiving on October 11 this year. We weren’t intentionally joining the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, we just happened to have our daughters and their families here in New Hampshire at the same time. It had been more than a decade since we had Thanksgiving in our home with the family and we wanted to celebrate.

We went all out with our traditional dishes. My oldest daughter told me she was wondering why we had gone to all this effort to find a turkey, roast the turkey, make the pies, and all the fussing for a feast. She had thought it would be so much easier to do pizza. But when all was finished and we were cleaning up she told me she was happy we did our traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings.

What did we achieve with our mountain of mashed potatoes and half gallon of gravy? (OK, Brandon got a little carried away with gravy preparations….)

We connected with each other. The shared activity of planning, preparing and eating together deepened our connections as a family. We divided up the recipes, the labor, and the counter space. There were pie bakers and potato peelers. Foods to make the day before and foods to put together at the last moment. Pot scrubbers and dish dryers. The little ones made place cards. The baby napped (very helpful contribution). Everyone had something to do. And of course, all the time we were working we were talking. And laughing.

Traditions can help us celebrate and connect. They can also ensnare us. Every once in a while I would get too focused on cleaning up the mess and hurrying up the process and someone would gently remind me to take a deep breath. Ahhh. This is a time to be together. To make a mess. To take time to be. To be family.

I will always remember a friend of mine talking about how she dreaded her mother’s Christmas traditions. Every year her mother had to prepare for Christmas in a particular way. Specific cookies needed to be baked. Decorations had to be done just so. There were no short-cuts. The day the tree was cut and decorated was the same each year. The December calendar was strictly adhered to by all. The result of this approach to the holiday traditions was her daughter dreaded December. Mom was a drill sergeant, ordering all to obey her commands. There was no rest for the weary. Bake that cookie, decorate that wreath. Wrap that present. Yikes!

How can we create and continue traditions that encourage not discourage connections for our families? Traditions can be a wonderful tool to connect with our families, our past, our present and lay the groundwork for the future. Connection. That is a tradition worth repeating.

As many of us prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, perhaps we can build in traditions that will help us connect to each other. The turkey will get eaten, the pies will disappear, and the stains will wash out. But the connections we build with each other will last and grow and flourish.

All of us here at The River Center Family and Community Resource Center wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Margaret Nelson is the Executive Director of the River Center Family and Community Resource Center in Peterborough.


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