There's a pot roast cooking in the crock pot, which makes my daughter a little peeved. There's nothing traditional about a Yankee Pot Roast--at least for our family--and somehow this college kid thinks that turkey and G's cranberry sauce is it. "THE" Thanksgiving tradition.
But for me, the tradition has been to spend hours cooking the turkey for the kids to eat in ten minutes and leave me with more hours of kitchen cleaning. So I didn't ask, I just did. We're having roast. IN a crock pot (easy clean up). Although, somehow, the "what?" exclamations led me to add the fixings: stuffing (with roast?), mashed potatoes (what about the ones cooking with the roast?), yeast rolls, Mac n cheese, green bean casserole, and pie.
Oh, snap. What do you mean no pie?
Because the kids' childhood was spent every other holiday with their father--home for Thanksgiving every other year and Christmas on opposite years--meant we didn't build much in the way of traditions. At least not the kind my mother would have made.
She did it all. Turkey that she baked in a brown paper grocery sack (something about keeping it moist) that she basted and cooked for hours. The biggest kettle filled with potatoes we were conscripted into peeling. Ten pounds maybe more, depending on who she invited. There were always invitations to those without family, and room for everyone at Mom's table. She didn't go for the green bean casserole, but there was always two or three vegetables, making sure our favorites showed up on the table. Buttered cabbage for me. Stuffing, gravy, rolls, and Mom's fresh fruit salad when we had the money. Multiple kinds of pies. And the knuckle killing mess of Mom's Orange Cranberry Relish. Sometimes, all this for our family and dozens of others who didn't have a family or table of their own. That was Mom's best tradition.
Of course, in later years, she'd beg to go out to eat rather than stay in and cook, "but what about leftovers" and the Thanksgiving prayer, and the circle of "what are you Thankful for this year?" so that she never really got to go out to eat on the holiday. Guilt will sometimes do that to moms, which is why I added the "fixings" to our pot roast.
We started our day earlier than my mom would have put in her turkey, because my college freshman daughter didn't fly into Denver until the early morning flight Thanksgiving morning (and is leaving Saturday evening). Since I had the roast in the crockpot by 5:30 am, I thought about other traditions. What would we DO other than eat?
At Mom's we would have listened to Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant." Ronnie, the oldest brother I was raised with, was nearly a generation apart as my parents had us kids all 4+ years apart, and he was the definition of the hippie generation right down to the pot-smoking and protest songs. Ronnie's the brother that ran away to join the Carnival (not a joke), and Mom had some guilt over that, so she typically acquiesced to his request. We listened to this song when Ronnie was there because he liked the song, and when Ronnie wasn't there...for much the same reason. It brought Ronnie back to us.
Which worked well for my childhood family, but what about my kids who've had a splintered holiday and rare traditions?
Well, the one thing we did as a family was go to the midnight showings of Harry Potter movies, which often came out in the month of November. In fact, my pseudo birthday for the movie theater club is in November, because one November the newest Harry Potter movie came out and I didn't have $$ for popcorn. But movie club members got free popcorn. :)
So while others were just waking up and shoving a turkey into the oven, we headed straight to the movie theater and the latest Harry Potter flick (Wizarding World, really, the newest Fantastic Beasts movie). Popcorn and movies is a tradition I could get behind, but even as we headed home, the kids were talking new "traditions." They want to go shopping (kill me now) after we digest our food (still no pie).
I vote for Scrabble, a game I always played with my mother, and card games. A true family day (although I think I'm going to lose the vote for shopping, but as long as I have to go out to shop, I'm getting my mom's wish and stopping for pie afterwards). My daughter wants to decorate...for Christmas. My son looks at her like she's lost her mind. "It's a tradition," I tell him before realizing he's only seen it...every other year, and the last time we'd been in the middle of moving, so we hadn't had a chance to decorate.
Traditions are strange, I'm thinking now. I've been deployed over Thanksgiving. Other times, post-military, I worked retail so I didn't get the "traditional" meal. I've eaten with friends when my kids were with their dad, or stayed home and binge-watched Christmas movies. Since Mom died, there hasn't really been a constant, and I see the same with my friends. I have one friend who still goes to her father's...with her adult children who are starting their own families. I have another who is finished with the home and hearth, and choosing to eat dinner with her boyfriend and his kids. Another who is grieving for a lost parent. A half brother who is older than my mother would be if she were still alive. And he's alone most days; someone who would have been welcome at my mother's table if he'd been local (and that's even if he weren't related).
My daughter is napping and my son is off to the gym. I'm worrying about traditions, and how to bring them home as they head off into college, and soon adulthood. How do I bring them home for the holidays when we haven't established definitive traditions? How do we establish them now?
After we eat and clean, we listen to "Alice's Restaurant" while playing Scrabble. We talk of Mom and Ronnie, my other brother Mike. We talk about college and future plans, the pot head who lit a joint in the gym earlier in the day, and my son stakes the claim for making a Turducken next year. A friend surprises us by bringing a pound cake for dessert.
And later, we'll head to the Black Friday sales (ugh), but afterward, we'll enjoy coffee and pie at a local cafe.
Sounds like the start of something good. God willing, even if we have to keep cooking and eating the typical Thanksgiving dinner (or a Turducken next year), we can start a new tradition. Pie at a cafe.
Anyone know if Alice's Restaurant is still around?
Funny story. During the Mercury Retrograde Incident in September 2016, Cindy's original blog disappeared. Five years, gone in a random act of chaos. Now she gets to repopulate her blog world one post at a time. Join her if you dare. :)