This post by Jennifer Flaten
Thanksgiving is approaching, a holiday that is rife with traditions. Sure, the traditions vary from family to family. For some, the tradition is to use recipes handed down through the generations while for others the tradition is to hold the gathering at a specific location.
Traditions are funny things. Most of the time we do them because we like them, that’s why they are “tradition” Sometimes we do them because we feel we have too, which can make the tradition feel like a burden.
Even if it is a tradition we love, there are times when the tradition can oppressive. Maybe you are always the one to host the party. You do all the planning, cooking and prep. Or maybe, you have to travel a long distance.
Yes, you love the result, but getting there, not so much. So what happens if you break tradition? Well, you just might discover a great new tradition or you might end up returning to the old tradition, which is what happened in our family.
For years, my mother hosted Thanksgiving at her house and it was always a “traditional” meal. Along with the prerequisite turkey, sweet potatoes, pie and canned cranberries, we had grandma’s stuffing–the special one that had no recipe.
Days before Thanksgiving my mom and grandma would fuss over the stuffing adding a little of this, a pinch of that and tasting it to see if it was “just right”.
Every year, without fail they would declare the stuffing ready, but they never stop to write down what steps made it so. Nope, they just pressed onward with preparations leaving the stuffing undocumented and sure to lead to a whole round of “just right” tastings next year. It was tradition.
One year, my mother decided she was tired of the traditional Thanksgiving and wanted to have a something different. She decided on a Chinese Thanksgiving. Now my mom is chief party planner and brooks no disagreements with her plan, if she wanted an untraditional Thanksgiving she was going to get one.
No turkey, no stuffing, instead we were to have Chinese food. Now, this wasn’t take-out Chinese, instead my mom made her homemade chop suey. So really, it wasn’t even a Chinese thanksgiving more like a Wisconsin hot dish thanksgiving. We had rice, and wine and fortune cookies for dessert.
The meal was delicious, the company was great, but we never did it again. The next year we had a turkey with grandma’s stuffing. Even now, 20 years later, anytime someone suggests changing Thanksgivings menu my mom laments the year we didn’t have a turkey.
Sometimes veering from tradition is the perfect break you need to appreciate why you have the tradition in the first place.