Today I want to talk about family holiday traditions and how they get started.
But FIRST I want to tell you about the Thanksgiving when we thought our mom might get arrested for trussing up our dad like a turkey and stuffing HIM into the oven.
First, a little backstory. Thanksgiving was never an intimate affair for our family. When I was a little girl we often spent the holiday with my dad's 13 siblings and their kids. Nobody had a house big enough for that many people, so we used to have dinner at the community park in Lindon. It was always fun to catch up on family gossip including that bit about my cousin who ran over another cousin with a Jeep.
(Don't worry! He survived!)
(On the other hand, if you see someone in my family driving a Jeep, run for cover. And may God have mercy on your soul.)
Even the Thanksgiving dinners we had at our own home were crowded affairs. My parents always invited over people who had no place to go, so it wasn't uncommon to have 35 folks in the dining room, breaking bread together.
In retrospect, I'm amazed my mom pulled it off year after year (after year!) because the truth is she didn't get much help. The guests were busy getting to know one another. The guys were busy watching football. And I (her only daughter) was busy being hormonal (see also "snotty," "useless" and "no fun at all").
So that's where this story begins. With my mom. Alone. In the kitchen. On Thanksgiving Day.
I'm sure we must have heard her in there, whipping up our family's favorites (see also "stuffing," "yams," blueberry Jell-o," butterflake rolls," "mashed potatoes," "pecan" and also "pumpkin pies," "marinated Brussels sprouts," "No kidding!" "Our family digs marinated Brussels sprouts!"). But somehow it never occurred to us to ask if she needed help.
My mom always gave the impression that everything on the cooking front was under control.
Anyway. Dinner was ready around 2 p.m.
(FINALLY! WHAT'S THE DEAL, MOM?) My dad called us to attention. You know. With a little silver whistle. Exactly like Captain Von Trapp. Except no one was wearing lederhosen.
Dude. This is America, not Austria.
"Welcome to our home," my dad said. "Let's start with a word of prayer."
That's when my mom staggered into the dining room, still wearing her apron. My dad's eyes lit up at the sight of her, his beloved. "Sweetheart," he said, "would you like to give the blessing?"
An icy silence descended upon the room, possibly because of the EXTREMELY frost-producing look my mom was giving my dad.
All of us held our breath to see what she would do.
"I might as well," she responded with what the French call hauteur. "After all, I've done everything else today."
MY MOM SHOOTS! MY MOM SCORES!
That moment rates as one of my favorite holiday memories. Which is why whenever we have a gathering at our home now, my husband always says, "Sweetheart, would you like to give the blessing?" Which FINALLY brings me to today's topic: How traditions begin.
Sometimes, if you're lucky, they just fall straight from heaven and into your lap.