To most folks, Thanksgiving is a day to enjoy delicious foods or watch football games or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Or, spending time with family may be the favorite highlight of the day. Or kicking off holiday gift shopping and special deals that come with Black Friday. It could also be a day of reflection and prayer. In my mind, if you and your family or friends tend to do the same things each holiday, it’s become a tradition.
On the recent mid-season finale of the television show “This Is Us” (which is one of my fave shows!), Jack and Nicky are brothers whose abusive alcoholic father made Thanksgiving Day not so happy while they growing up. If you watch the show, you know it depicts parallels between the past and modern day. In this episode, as young men in their 20’s or so, they decided they’d abandon the family holiday and go elsewhere to celebrate. They end up at a bar where Nicky bets on a football game and wins big on the bet. With his winnings, they go to a restaurant and enjoy five pounds of shrimp (which is really a lot of shrimp for two people). Soon after that holiday together, Jack and Nicky both go off to Vietnam, and life is forever changed. Fast forward to modern day – Jack is deceased and Nicky is just meeting all of the extended family for the first time at Thanksgiving (yes, there’s a story behind it; you gotta watch!) and he unveils a huge platter containing five pounds of shrimp to add to the family’s other Thanksgiving traditional items.
The story line prompted thoughts about my family holidays and my red velvet cake. The cake is a special request from my family each year; and a few times I’ve asked “don’t you guys want some other kind of cake? I can make German Chocolate, strawberry, key lime, blah blah blah…” Nope, gotta have red velvet. When I think about it, my red velvet cake on my family’s dinner table for the holidays has become a tradition that I no longer question. Same with my sister-in-law’s famous Geechie Collard Greens; wooo chile, they’re delicious! A holiday wouldn’t be the same without these items.
So, whether it’s five pounds of shrimp, or a red velvet cake, or Geechie Collard Greens, or your grandmother’s sweet potato souffle, or if that’s the day your family has designated to go out and buy the Christmas tree as the kick-off for the holidays, it’s a tradition! Something you can look forward to all year, and more importantly, something that can be passed down to your children, in the hopes that they’ll continue it through the generations. Tradition brings families together, brings about a feeling of comfort and brings a smile to every face. To continue the cultural traditions of our ancestors reminds us where we came from. It’s simple and pure love to remember someone who has passed on by also remembering and continuing the tradition they began.
What are your holiday traditions? Tell me about it in the comments, maybe I’ll steal it! (wink!) Meanwhile, I pray that you, your family, loved ones and friends have a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!