November 21, 2007

Traditions (Or, I Don't Want Pumpkin Pie, Dammit)

The following conversation will take place tomorrow, Thanksgiving.

Mom: Don't you want some cranberry sauce?
Me: No thanks.
Mom: What, you don't like cranberry sauce?
Me: Um, no.
Mom: Since when?
Me: Name a Thanksgiving when you've ever seen me eat cranberry sauce.
Mom: Huh.

That conversation will be followed an hour or two later by this one.

Dad: Would you like pumpkin or apple pie.
Me: Apple please.
Dad: No pumpkin pie?
Me: Remember the last time mom saw me eat cranberry sauce? That was the last time I ate pumpkin pie too.
Dad: Huh.

Later in the evening, my mom will pour the last of a bottle of white wine into her glass, my dad will give her a look, and my mom will continue whatever it was she was saying punctuating her points with what she thinks is filthy language but really isn't all that bad. Then we'll talk about politics and we'll do our best to convince my father-in-law to repent and mend his Republican ways. We'll lose but it won't be for lack of trying. If we're lucky - and most of the time we are - we'll get a chorus line-like show from my mother and mother-in-law. They'll claim they're dancing for Mia's benefit but we'll know the truth - they're silly.

These things, taken together, would be pretty annoying if they happened everyday. But they don't. Instead, they're traditions, those things - good, bad or indifferent - that you can count on happening. Or at least I can count on happening every Thanksgiving.

We're entering a season rife with tradition. So I ask you - what are your favorite or least-favorite traditions?

Posted by Chris at November 21, 2007 8:06 AM

I hate breaking wishbones.
How did they ever get started?

Let's play with and break the dead turkey were about to eats bones! That'll be fun! Add insult to injury! Yay!!

Posted by: Cassandra at November 21, 2007 8:20 AM

Well, it USED to be when my Papa started ragging on all the cousins who weren't thin or models to be more like the cousins who were, but then he'd rag on those cousins to hurry up, get married and have kids. Then my Mema would pull me aside and offer me a butterscotch from a little baggie, only later to ask why I'm stuffing my face when I eat one lousy pecan. But we don't have Thanksgiving with that side of the family anymore.

Posted by: Claire at November 21, 2007 8:28 AM

Ahhhhhhhh family traditions... ours tends to be having dinner with BOTH sides of my parents families, which means 32 side dishes, a 25 pound turkey, approximately, 28 settings to set, change and wash...... and more pies and desserts than any one family should have present at one time...
My favorite holiday EVER.... no presents, no church, no pressure, just eat, sleep, visit and watch football......

Posted by: Stephanie at November 21, 2007 8:28 AM

Other than me putting the black olives on each and every one of my fingers and chasing someone around the house as Crazy Olive Hands, no real traditions. I find our holidays very boring to the point of coma -inducing and we try to liven it up with board games or card games, but to no avail. Now we just bring a DVD to watch.

Posted by: donna at November 21, 2007 8:44 AM

I have to admit (and this may or may not be a popular sentiment) but my favorite tradition is that we spend our holidays as a family - we do not travel to another family member's house. Our extended families are always welcome to our home but I am thankful and glad we have this tradition of staying put at the holidays. I love that we do not drive anywhere, we not need to eat food that someone else prepared, and we can run around in our PJs all day ;)

Also, another tradition is to decorate the house for Christmas this weekend which I LOVE!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: Christina at November 21, 2007 8:54 AM

About the only tradition I have now is that I get to finish cooking by 11:00 a.m./12:00 p.m. Since my husband works, I cook early enough for him to take food with him when leaves. I then have the rest of the day to do absolutely nothing.

An annoying conversation I have with my mother on a regular basis: "No thank you, I'm allergic to strawberries." "Since when?" "Since I was a child." "That's impossible."

Posted by: Maria at November 21, 2007 9:24 AM

I swear I have the exact same conversation with MY mom about the cranberry sauce every year too.

Traditions... well, the biggest one for me is the annual Christmas cookie baking day that takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

We get together with another family (have been since we kids were really young) and bake and decorate hundreds of cookies. It's even more special now that "the kids" are bringing kids of their own to the event.

Posted by: Jase at November 21, 2007 9:26 AM

My mom OWNS Thanksgiving. Seriously, she does the best Thanksgiving dinner on the planet and all I have to do is go to her house and set the table. She has an orphan rule, that is, anyone we know who doens't have a family nearby or a place to go earns a spot at her table. There have been years when we've crammed 30 people in the kitchen and dining room but she wouldn't have it any other way.

About 10 years ago, we bought a cheap-ish table cloth and dumped a bunch of sharpies on the middle of the table and had every guest list something for which they're thankful. Since then, we've had 7 new grandchildren and baby cousins and we trace their handprints on the table cloth every year. It's fun to take kiddo and show her how small her handprint was when she was a baby. If her house were to catch fire, I'm pretty sure that tablecloth is the thing she'd grab as she ran out of the house.

Posted by: Kara at November 21, 2007 9:27 AM

We don't do thanksgiving over here, but Christmas is good for traditions. Every year we take a little 2 minute bit of video of our 2 boys in the upstairs hall just as they get out of bed. They talk straight to camera, telling us it's Christmas morning and guessing what they might find downstairs. Then we film them running down. My older son will be 10 soon, and we can run all those little sections of footage together and watch him sprout from 2 year old toddler to big lump of boy in the blink of an eye. Which is how fast it felt to me anyway.

Posted by: Loth at November 21, 2007 9:51 AM

My favorite tradition is mashed potatoes. Hands down. Least favorite, holiday traffic.

Posted by: She Likes Purple at November 21, 2007 9:51 AM

We literally plan our Thanksgiving Dinner around the Cowboys game, mostly for Granny's benefit. So, we'll eat at 1 this year to be able to take a nice nap shortly after kickoff at 3:15. My cousin's wife didn't realize the importance of this tradition and tried to turn off the TV last year because she didn't like for her baby (then 7 mos) to watch TV. I'm sure we'll hear *jokes* about that this year.

There will be olives on fingers, Texas Trash (the snack like Chex Mix, not a cute nickname for my extended family), Mom's cranberry relish (which I don't eat either), and mounds of mashed potatoes.

Posted by: sarah at November 21, 2007 9:56 AM

It used to be that anyone who was still alive on my mother's side of the family would show up for thanksgiving. For years the head count hovered at around 85 people. We would use the church parish hall, as my Gramp and Gram were quite involved with the church. All the food would be stone cold, except for vats of gravy to warm the turkey and mashed potatoes. There were two large folding tables full of desserts alone, with the trays of Toll House cookies being the most popular. It was a big enough affair that you could always find a interesting relative to talk to, and avoid the ones you didn't want to see.

Since my Gramp and Gram passed, I have kept a little bit of the tradition alive by baking the same apple pie my Gram used to make from scratch. It isn't much of a continuation, but it is enough for me.

Posted by: Intergalactic at November 21, 2007 10:13 AM

That is hilarious. I have to re-convince my mom every year that I do not like cranberrie sauce as well. Only problem is that several years ago she started making them from scratch. So now, I am not just saying that I don't like cranberries...its like I am saying I don't like HER cranberries.

And my daughter and I have gone vegetarian this tomorrow is going to be interesting, very interesting.

Posted by: Leilani at November 21, 2007 10:20 AM

We don't really have any Thanksgiving traditions, but I have to say that I'm right there with ya in choosing the apple over the pumpkin pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: Stephanie at November 21, 2007 10:21 AM

I traditionally leave the Christmas tree up until about Easter. Does that count?

Posted by: kalisah at November 21, 2007 10:32 AM

Up until this year, my house was the gathering place for all my family who lived in town as well as any neighbor who dropped in. I cooked for about 25 people. The last few years my son did the ham and mashed potatoes at his house and brought them but other than that, it was all Ray and me working as a team. I set up a buffet table, throwaway plates, and whoever showed up ate and watched football. Or fell asleep wherever they were sitting.

Same menu, year after year (except I added green bean casserole for son Tim and Karo pecan pie just because I wanted to).

This year (the year from hell), we're invited out. I'm bringing lots of deviled eggs and making a sweet potato souffle (sort of) for another friend because it's easier to make it and let her put it in her oven than try to explain a "recipe" that's never been written down.

My older son (National Guard - Mexican border) should be home for Christmas. I'll cook then but not the huge production I've been doing.

Have a wonderful holiday!!

Posted by: ann adams at November 21, 2007 10:36 AM

Hey, my mom will also forget that I don't like cranberry sauce, just like she does every year! And she will try to get John to eat crookneck squash, which she loves and he hates.

Least favorite tradition -- having to brave the mall at some point. I like buying gifts for people, but I hate the crazy parking lots and the lines.

Most favorite tradition -- I have a lot. Baking a gazillion cookies for family and friends. Decorating our tree. Reserving time for family. Seeing old friends who come home for Christmas.

Posted by: bad penguin at November 21, 2007 10:51 AM

dude...there must be something wrong with you...who doesn't eat pumpkin pie??!!

kidding, of course, you are allowed. my parents are the same way. they ALWAYS tell me what i like, even though i've NEVER eaten those things...

Posted by: ali at November 21, 2007 11:09 AM

A few years ago I came to the sad realization that I don't have traditions, really.

I've done nothing to fix this yet, but I intend to soon, and at least am aware that it is the case.

I used to blame it on being English (as in by heritage, I'm American), but that's a ridiculous excuse. The English have plenty of traditions!

Posted by: Poppy at November 21, 2007 11:19 AM

It is a tradition in our house to loiter in the kitchen only to be yelled at to get out. Over and over and over again.

Posted by: GreenCanary at November 21, 2007 11:19 AM

We love driving around to look at lights in December. The post-meal Thanksgiving walk...especially if it's cool outside. Hate the religious or political differences that throw an element of menace into every family gathering.

Posted by: wordgirl at November 21, 2007 11:39 AM

hands down, its the leftover crumb pie for breakfast and the cold turkey sandwiches for lunch the next day.

Posted by: Darren at November 21, 2007 11:47 AM

A big dinner, at my house this year, hubby does the turkey, mom and I do all the sides and grandma scoots around and tries to help out best she can.

Grandpa and the two boys play - or pick on each other.

Scrabble and football.

Pineapple upside down cake and pumpkin pie.

Posted by: Stef at November 21, 2007 12:31 PM

Family board games on Thanksgiving and Christmas eve. Seems like the only time we ever get around to them.
Clementine Oranges. My mom always has them available at holidays. I can't eat one without thinking of Christmas.

Posted by: Amy at November 21, 2007 12:40 PM

we don't have any particular traditions for Thanksgiving yet. my hubbie loves my deviled eggs so that's always a staple. it seems as though we've done something different each year so far in the way of turkey...he deep fried the turkey one year and the we had turducken last year, this year the turkey will be brined before being cooked.

I think the only real tradition we have thus far is watching the parade on tv, which since we live in NY perhaps once the baby is older I'm hoping to make going to the city to watch in person a tradition. and after watching the parade on tv we watch the dog show.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Chris!!!

Posted by: LFM at November 21, 2007 1:31 PM

Turkey sandwiches on homemade bread. After dinner is done, the football games have been played, naps taken, the board games and cards come out, and everyone starts making sandwiches that would make Dagwood blush. Its like they didn't just eat their weight in stuffing just a few hours earlier.

Posted by: J at November 21, 2007 1:54 PM

frito-pie while decorating the tree and chili-dogs on christmas eve.

Posted by: struglas at November 21, 2007 3:16 PM

When we were little, my brother and I used to play football on T-day. This involved my brother calling plays, snapping the ball, making magnificent spiral tosses, and astonishing field goal attempts while I grumbled about how much I hated playing football. There would also be the requisite eating of dirt by me. I hated it then but now I don't mind it so much. Last year, we did it at Christmas when I was home to visit.

Tomorrow, it'll just be me and E. It'll be nice, I think. :)

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at November 21, 2007 5:29 PM

I love that it's OK to open a bottle of wine at noon because you're with family, and they require a little self medicating.

Posted by: Jenn Benn at November 21, 2007 6:33 PM

Favorite traditions come in big and small.

Big: My parents and Jen's parents have to be there.

Small: By definition, it's the little things. I love sitting around a dinner table with certain people, I love the way they eat, the laughter of my mother in law, the repetition of a story I've heard a thousand times from my mom.

There are only two things I do not like about our gatherings. 1. The noisy mouth eater. 2. The "photo shoot" of the kids.

Posted by: Brad at November 21, 2007 9:52 PM

The star on our Christmas tree is really cardboard from a Sam Adams 6 pack holder covered with tinfoil. If you look all the way in back you can see Sam's solemn face peeking out at you. (It's from before they made the updated, more affable looking Sam.) It's tradition now.

Posted by: Sphincter at November 21, 2007 10:01 PM

Ah traditions. I always watch the parade while I start cooking...the house has the best smell all year long. For the last 7 years it has been stress free, lazy, and some times involves doing some of my art.

No more arguing. No more expectations out of control. Simple happiness. Laughs. Eating. Watching fav programs. And just being lazy. Maybe a movie. This year the new tradition will be taking a beautiful walk because the weather is great, nice and crisp with no rain this year! So a walk it will be! Before the feast, cause afterwards it is turkey coma!

Posted by: gypsy at November 21, 2007 10:07 PM

I like the tradition that my family has of eating breakfast together on Christmas Eve and doing our big thing that day, so that I can be home with just my parents on Christmas Day.

I don't like shopping on "Black Friday" - the crowds! :(

Posted by: Stephanie at November 21, 2007 10:16 PM

Sounds like my parents! LOL Favorite- waking the kids early to watch the Macy parade. Least-Favorite would have to be going to mom's and hearing her complain about my dad (they've been divorced for 18 years!!!!)

Posted by: Sabrina at November 21, 2007 11:21 PM

Hahaha! Your post cracked me up because it all sounds so familiar. Not the cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie, but getting the same questions every single year by family members. On the one hand it annoys me (I mean how hard is it to remember my answers) on the other hand it is funny. We all should be glad we have family and are able to celebrate with them with good food and in the comfort of our warm homes.

Posted by: Nadine at November 22, 2007 10:36 AM

Our tradition is all about the food. You have to have specific foods at Thanksgiving and Christmas. One is my grandmother's coffee cake. Must have. Always. Then it goes into the traditional, turkey, potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, dressing, rolls, scalloped oysters, green bean casserole and/or scalloped corn, jellied cranberry sauce, a strawberry jellow salad my MIL makes, pumpkin pie, another pie (anything is okay), and relishes including green olives, ripe olives, and pickled herring.

Any detraction from these items in ANY form (never, for example, substitute whole cranberry sauce for jellied...omg) will mean the world is coming to an end.

Hope you had a great one.

Posted by: sue at November 23, 2007 10:49 AM

Our tradition is to have Thanksgiving breakfast or brunch. Needless to say, there's no turkey or any of the other traditional Thanksgiving fare, but it's still a time to hang out with family so it's okay by me.

Posted by: angela at November 24, 2007 6:37 PM

We always go round the table and say what we are thankful for. Usually we are with our best friends since family is back om the east coast. So also usually very fun night of cards following turkey. We played Hearts this time round. I got slaughtered. SLAUGHTERED.

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at November 26, 2007 11:57 PM

OH! Speaking of repetitive questions... when we do make it back east, we always play "Inlaw Bingo" - where Bryan and I put point values on the crazy-ass things his family says and when they say them whoever hears it earns points. Once year we even made a scorecard.

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at November 26, 2007 11:59 PM