It’s the fourth week in November and I’m not wearing a bikini. Or donning flip flops, or slathering on the sunscreen. In Wisconsin that would be expected for this time of year, but for us, it’s a bit unusual. It has been ten years since we haven’t traveled to the Caribbean at Thanksgiving. With our oldest now in college, her free time around Thanksgiving is limited to Thanksgiving Day and the few days following. When the calendar ticked over to November, and the temperatures started dropping here in Wisconsin, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. It was as if our family’s holiday tradition was ending. We would not, at least for a few years, be waking up to the sound of the waves washing up onto the beach, to the smell of coffee and the sweetness of freshly-baked pastries, or to feeling that our only worry was if we had put on enough of that sunscreen. We had become accustomed to spending my favorite holiday with our family of four, far away from any of the stresses of everyday life. It was the time when we took the annual Christmas card photo on the beach. Thanksgiving day was spent really appreciating what we had, and how thankful we were, accompanied by Caribbean spiny lobster as my “traditional” Thanksgiving meal.
It’s curious how quickly that became our “family tradition.” For years and years before that, our tradition was like most in our country. Thanksgiving Day was my favorite holiday because it was all about the food. No presents to worry about or dozens of parties to attend. It was one gathering, with more vegetables than you could count, and with a side of football thrown in. It was the most relaxing holiday of the year, perhaps aided by the L-Triptophan of the holiday bird. After you slept off the best meal of the year, Friday was spent pulling out all the decorations and getting started with preparations for Christmas. No Black Friday shopping here. The thought of running around a mall or from store to store seemed contrary to the whole idea of the holiday.
So this year, we’re back to our previous Thanksgiving traditions, and maybe we’ll spice it up a bit and add something new to the mix. Because one thing you learn over the years is that you can’t always have the traditions you grew up with, or the traditions you have had the privilege to experience over the previous years. But you can always, every holiday, make memories for the future generations, memories that future generations may look back on as some of the best times of their lives, their holiday tradition.