Thankful for Thanksgiving Traditions

At the Helm

I love the holidays.

I love the music. I love the decorations. I even love the cheesy television movies. But most of all I love the traditions.

Someone I know makes it a tradition to walk on the beach each Thanksgiving morning. Later on, she calls her family to wish them a happy Thanksgiving and then spends the day alone, reading and watching movies. It’s her perfect holiday — peaceful and quiet.

We have friends who spend the day over at Hudson’s at the Community Thanksgiving. They volunteer with old friends and new and couldn’t imagine a better way to spend their holiday. They swear they receive more than they give.

One of my friends comes from a big family, and they have an open-door policy; they may have 30 or more people over for the holiday. They roast some turkeys and deep fry others. There are desserts for days, and football is played on the television and in the backyard.

It is loud and raucous and fun.

I think that’s the great thing about the holidays — everyone has a different tradition.

If you are ever invited to my house for Thanksgiving, don’t be surprised if there isn’t a turkey in sight. Instead, we all sit down to pizza. (Some years I’ll make a turkey dinner, with a side of pepperoni pizza, but pizza is always there). It’s not because we love pizza, which we do, but because eating pizza reminds of us what we are most thankful for.

Fifteen years ago, we had a 1-year-old and a 16-week-old; the baby had been in and out of the hospital since he was born. My husband and I had been invited to Thanksgiving with friends and were looking forward to it, until my older son came down with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Suddenly Thanksgiving week was filled with doctor and ER visits, breathing treatments every couple of hours and no sleep. We canceled our plans and Thanksgiving saw me leaving the hospital with my son, thankfully on the mend.

Since we had not planned to be home and we were exhausted, the only thing we had to eat was the remaining half of a pizza my husband had ordered the night before.

So, that’s what we ate. We sat with our two boys and ate reheated pizza off paper plates. And we were thankful.

Thankful for the fact that we were together. Thankful that both boys were going to be OK.

Thankful for the friends and family we weren’t able to be with. I was especially thankful for the people at the hospital: the doctors and nurses, the orderlies and the front desk staff who spent their Thanksgiving away from their families so I could bring my son home to mine.

Since then we’ve made it a tradition at have pizza at Thanksgiving. Is it weird? Probably.

But it works for us.

There’s another good thing about traditions —you can always make a new one. This year I’m taking a bit from some of my friend’s traditions. I’m going to walk on the beach, and I’m going to give back to the community that gives us so much.

I am not going to play football, but I’ll gladly watch my husband and the boys throw one in the backyard.

SASHA SWEENEY: co-publisher