Sitting beside the girl at the dining room table I started thinking about traditions as I spooned peas and carrots off of her plate and into my mouth. She had pushed the plate away to focus her attention on her grilled cheese sandwich. It was Friday night. This was dinner.
I don't remember a lot of family traditions growing up. Things that we would do year after year. Things that I just assumed would happen.
What I do remember involves food. It was a tradition to have homemade tomato soup and Yorkshire pudding, and roast beef too but even back then I spurned meat, for supper when eating at the formal dinning room table in the house of my maternal grandparents. It was tradition to sit on the yellowish floral couch underneath painted portraits of my aunts in the living room of my paternal grandparents eating peas and mashed potatoes off of a TV tray while watching Little House on the Prairie on Sunday evenings.
These memories might not be of actual traditions, but they felt like traditions to me because they were what I most looked forward to. They are what stay with me. They evoke feelings of comfort.
We don't have a lot of traditions in our small family, but I am trying to make some. Every holiday I talk to the husband about what traditions we should have. Should we have special food? Should we do a special activity? How can we teach the kids to mark and celebrate these events?
I am thinking about all this because Thanksgiving is coming. Yesterday the girl sang me a song she learnt at school about Thanksgiving. The turkey ran away before dinner she sang and I laughed. What was going to happen to the turkey? I asked. They were going to eat it, she said, but we don't eat turkeys. That's right I replied. Because we are vegetarian ,she continued, we talked about that at school.
There won't be the traditional meal of turkey and stuffing laid on our table on Sunday. There won't be any extended family clustered around. It will just be the four of us. Eating homemade macaroni and cheese with pumpkin pie for dessert. Because these are the foods we like. These were the foods requested.
I ate the girl's peas and carrots off her plate as I thought about all this. Then the girl started to sing the awesome song about her dad and it hit me. Whatever we have may not look like traditions from the outside, but they are. They are ours and that makes them tradition.