Rachel S. Heslin
Thoughts, insights, and mindless blather

New traditions
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Well, our first Heslin/Landis Big Bear Traditional Family Thanksgiving went very well. We used to do the whole family gathering thing at Thanksgiving (and Passover, although we had to celebrate it after tax season for Grandpa), but eventually Grandma decided she was tired of setting/cleaning up and people moved away and we experimented with other sorts of Thanksgivings: restaurants, dinner theater, pot luck and cold cuts. It just wasn't the same. I missed the tradition of sitting down at a formal table with The Good China and a table cloth and matching silverware and everything.

A few months back, Shawn installed our new cooktop and double oven, so I announced that my family would be having Thanksgiving at our place. (We invited Shawn's parents as well, but usually they have T-Day with his aunt's family, although they ended up coming down to Lakewood due to dad's surgeries.)

ooh, boy.

Between my sleeping through the first three months of my pregnancy and the evacuation and Shawn's dad going into the hospital, my expectations for the elegance of my hosting became increasingly lowered. However, I did get the public rooms clean and vacuumed and the food came out well.

I'd decided at the beginning that, this being my first Thanksgiving, I was not going to compound everything else going on by attempting to cook a turkey from scratch, so I bought one of those pre-fab dinner from Vons (yes, I crossed the picket line -- I have very little sympathy for people making $16-24/hr who are whining about being asked to contribute $5/wk [$15/wk for family] for medical premiums) which worked very well.

Dad brought his wonderful cranberry/orange relish, gravy, green beans (no onions -- yecch!) and extra stuffing that we ended up not getting to, so everyone was well fed. Jess couldn't make it because she'd already invited a girl in her apartment complex to have dinner with her and little Jonathan, my brother and his boyfriend were concerned with the long drive to and from Big Bear in the dark (a couple of loss-of-control accidents can make you leery of such things), my cousin Erik's girlfriend was with her family, and Shawn [*snif*] was with his. So it ended up being me, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Aunt Barb, Uncle Warren (Mom's brother -- the one in Crestline), and my cousin, Erik. A manageable size for a First.

The table and linens had belonged to Grandmother (maternal), the dishes had been Aunt Barb's, the silverware was my great-grandmother's, and the grace I read before the meal was the same old, faded scrap of newspaper clipping that Grandpa read at every Thanksgiving I could remember at my grandparents' table.

Dad said there were good and bad things about this. He said that the good thing was that it felt like a new tradition. The bad thing was that -- it felt like a new tradition (implying that I may have gotten myself into something permanent.)

I don't mind at all. I missed Shawn dreadfully, but there will be next year.

Good thing Grandmother's table comes with five leaves.


Tradition does not mean that the living are dead; it means that the dead are living.
-- Harold Macmillan

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