Everyone has their own family traditions throughout the year, especially at the holidays. Our family is no different, and thanksgiving is our family’s favorite holiday.
Our four children are all grown with their own families, and live all over the country from the East Coast to the West Coast. And as happens when we all are busy making a living, raising children, and having our own lives, getting home to visit with everyone all at once is difficult. When your children have spouses or significant others, there is the added sharing of those holidays with in-laws. Now add grandchildren, and everyone seems to want to claim Christmas because of the Santa factor.
But not us. We want everyone here at Thanksgiving! We love the togetherness that the Thanksgiving holiday brings without all the pressure of Santa coming, not to mention the hauling of gifts. Our family is creating family traditions that the grandbabies are already remembering from year to year.
This year, our home was full to the brim, literally. With nineteen people at the fifteen-foot-long dining room table, we were a loud group of fork-clanking-on-china, gravy-passing, water-spilling, I-DON’T-want-dressing shouting, turkey-eating people!
The whole weekend long, the dishwasher ran and we cooked, fed, played, and chatted. Calls were made across the country for the sharing of thanks to all those that could not be here with us.
I love the chaos that visiting family brings to my house, and most especially the ruckus that children make. Yes, all the fighting and running and shouting is different than our usually adult-quiet house has become. And that pitch reached by screams from little girls is piercing, but still, I love it all.
This year I bought all the girls hot-pink feather boas and we wore them around the house. The three-year-old asked me to stop and dance with her right in the middle of getting the gravy done, and of course I did! How often do we just stop, mid-time crunch, and dance a little dance? I would say never, but this time I did, it made me smile, and I need to remember to add that in when I am feeling pressured! It reminds me how much I miss all my children being little in the house, and though apparently I did my job as mother well enough that they have moved on to their own lives, I want them all home again. I tell them I want to squish them down and stick them in my pocket and keep them home forever and I’m miffed that they have to be adults. Of course my husband rolls his eyes at this, and the children laugh.
Usually when one of the granddaughters starts crying she sets off a chain of events that ends with all the children in the house either crying, arguing, rolling in a big ball of arms, legs and dust flying, or yelling! The things that they come up with can be hilarious. One year one of them took the salad tongs and ‘tonged’ pappy’s hair: apparently he needs to do a better job on his hairdo, so much so that a pair of salad tongs in the hands of a three-year-old was doing a better job than he did that morning.
And now that I’m not worrying about homework, school lunches, teaching manners, meting out punishments, and all the myriad of other things you do when you raise your children, I can take the time to appreciate, without impatience, children’s honesty, humor, and innate curiosity. One morning, after sleeping on my stomach, which squishes one’s face, one of the girls looked at my face with an aghast look and asked, “Oma, what happened to your face?” And when I looked in the mirror, I burst out laughing, because I did have bed-sheet wrinkle face! My daughter-in-law was horrified and tried to shush my granddaughter like a good mother does when trying to teach tact.
One of the traditions that the grandchildren have come to love is the day after Thanksgiving free-for-all. We pull out the riding lawnmowers, the ATV, and the tractor, and all the grandkids get to ride on the tractor and ride around the fields on the various vehicles. Each Thanksgiving evening, after dinner, the little girls ask, “Are we going to the farm NOW to ride the tractor?” The older ones use their many years of wisdom to explain that we go riding the DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING.
This year we let each child choose and cut a small cedar tree (none taller than 3 feet), pushed them into pots, and let each child decorate their own little Christmas tree. You would be amazed at the delight they took in decorating their very own tree any way they wanted!
Grandparenting can be so entertaining. It’s fun NOT being the parent. It’s great to be able to sit back and watch the tumult. It’s fun to play on the floor like a child with guileless children who just want to have fun. There is no judging of me if I wear my tutu and tiara, other than them wanting one also! They love that I don’t constantly say “Wait a minute” because I don’t have a million things that can’t wait before I can play with them. And it’s delightful to announce that “I’m tired” and go to bed and leave the baths and bedtime fights to their parents!!
If you take the time to watch, it is a comical set of events, right up until the minute they drive out of the driveway. You know that you have all had a great visit when the grandkids are all crying because they have to leave, their parents are a little rested because they were able to sleep a little late this weekend because granddaddy cooked everyone breakfast and set cartoons or a movie on first thing in the morning, and the grandparents are standing in the driveway waving, tired, but already looking forward to next year.
Copyright © 2011, Maura White. All rights reserved.