Things change. People die. Traditions morph.
For as long as I can remember we went to my Aunt Chris and Uncle Louie’s for Thanksgiving. Uncle Louie was a foodie. Also he was Italian, so there was always way too much to eat. Also he was funny, so that’s always good.
I love his three boys, who are super intelligent and well read, hilarious, and like my brothers (if I had any). I was really happy to introduce my husband into the mix, and then of course, my kids. There would be varying numbers of people over the years who celebrated with us, from 30, to later, when Lou began getting very bad dementia, just our family
In my little clan, we had a tradition, we always left Boston Thanksgiving morning, we always stopped at Rein’s Deli, our favorite deli halfway from Boston to Connecticut, and we always brought with us way too many mashed potatoes, or too many appetizers, or pie for every person (this is what happens when you’re Jewish & Italian).
Aunt Chris would always decorate the table with the most beautiful candles and flowers. We ate in a glassed in sunroom. She always used real china, and we always drank good wine, and sat around afterward holding our stomachs, wanting to puke, and wondering when we could eat again.
We always told family stories. Of the old country, of the old people, of those we’d lost, and those we’d gained. And always we laughed. A lot.
The next day, my kids would always beg me to take them to the nearby mall, because they loved the crazy mayhem. I always acquiesced. The mall is on the very land that one of the greatest yearly events of my life was located, The Danbury State Fair. Sometimes when I would walk around, I would think about what part of the fair used to be in that very spot. That place was magic to me. Disney World had nothing on the Danbury State Fair when I was 7.
Anwyay, the Thanksgiving before we lost Lou, Jake was studying in Barcelona, and we went there to spend it with him, this was our first real break with traditon, and it wasn’t easy. Then the first Thanksgiving after my Uncle Louie died was last year, and the crew came up and ate at our house. But this year they can’t, because of a recent surgery one of my cousins had. We are in the same boat, with Ally having just had her ACL rebuilt.
We will break tradition this year. Plus my sister and brother-in-law are going to be with his parents in New Orleans, so tradition is getting all sorts of trompled on.
Friends we love have invited us to their table. And we just might do that. But it will not be without some tears for me, for all the November Thursdays I spent in one of the houses I love best, with some of the people I can’t live without.
But that’s the thing about traditions, sometimes the only way they can continue is in your head, and in your heart. You keep going, allowing them to morph into something else, and taking the time to remember what was.