Here it is, Thanksgiving Day 2017. We are on our fourth day in the Five Days of Thanksgiving series, and though I feel obligated to write something ridiculously profound for you today because it is the holiday, I also feel like I need to settle back, sip my coffee, and tell you a story.
Do you know how traditions get started?
As a child, I found it difficult to recognize and articulate what our family traditions were – not because we didn’t have any, but because I thought a tradition was something handed down to your mom from her mom, who learned it from her mom, who learned it from her mom, who learned it… you get the idea. Tradition, to me, meant something so old that we no longer knew why we did it. It also meant something representative of our culture or heritage. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my adult life, however, it’s that traditions can just be conjured up out of thin air. They don’t need some deep, historical context.
It’s been a busy week for the Moore Family. For this Moore, it has been a week of baking and rebaking (because why would you make one chocolate log roll when you can accidentally split the cake repeatedly and spend days rebaking and resplitting?), of running, of laundry, of planning, and of dipping pretzels in chocolate. I knew, of course, that I was pushing myself too hard – we all recognize when we do it, don’t we? However, I convinced myself I’d be okay. Hang in there, I told myself; you can relax all the long weekend once you get through the holiday!
I didn’t make it to the weekend, though. I made it to yesterday at about 6 o’clock, when my back decided it was done. I lay flat on my back for about an hour, trying not to move, but as soon as I tried to stand up, my back began to spasm all over again. I could barely walk, the pain was so bad! My sweet mother and brother helped me get as comfortable as possible in an upright position in the living room, and I was able to slice some cheese for the cracker tray with a cutting board on my lap.
My brother, ever the clown, but secretly very affectionate, had to make a quick trip to the store. When he returned, he had one of those cheesy grins on his face – the kind that always gives him away when he does something brilliant. He walked straight to me and set a giant candy cane on my lap. I don’t mean a big candy cane; I mean giant. It weighs more than a pound.
“I got this for you,” he said. “I figured since your back hurts, you could use something to cheer you up… or you could use it as a cane to help you walk.”
I consider myself a good-natured woman. I smile a lot. I love a good laugh. But I can’t tell you the last time I laughed so hard.
As I drifted to sleep last night, I kept thinking what a ridiculous and unexpected joy it brought to a very difficult evening for me, and I wondered, why not make it a pre-Thanksgiving tradition. Next year, when someone is stressing out and pushing themselves the week of Thanksgiving, we’ll give them a giant candy cane. It’ll be fun. It’ll be tradition.
Certainly a new tradition doesn’t have to be so silly. There are many ways we can add something new to our old traditions. We can bake an extra pie and drop it off at the homeless shelter. We can take a plate of cookies to the neighbors. We can take a walk, as a family, after dinner.
Another new tradition for me, I think, will be writing and sending Christmas cards to our deployed troops. Those who protect and defend our liberty make enormous sacrifices; even when it doesn’t cost their very lives, it costs them time away from their loved ones. Today as I spend the day making new memories with my own family, I will be thinking of those who are away from home and missing their traditions. Tomorrow, after everything settles I will write to them, reminding them of how loved they are and how thankful I am for their sacrifices. Won’t you join me in starting this new tradition?