Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Tree

I didn’t grow up with a lot of family traditions. My parents were so busy trying to keep up with eight kids some of the finer points got missed. We decorated eggs for Easter and danced dangerous pirouettes with burning sparklers on Independence Day, sure. But quiet gatherings around Dad as he read the Christmas story? No, it was never that quiet. Eggnog and cookies while eight kids pushed and shoved to decorate the tree? Would the living room even have survived?

My children, I’m sad to say, were raised pretty much like I was. Oh, I squeaked in a few more traditions here and there, but having three kids in fewer than four years will suck up most of the energy and good intentions you have. Avoiding accidental death and dealing with whining were the major activities. We’re lucky we all survived.

So now that I have grandchildren I pay better attention to traditions. Okay, I pay attention to the daughter who is very conscious of tradition-making. Now we do annual apple-picking trips, visits to the Christmas light village, and try to do vacations as a group.

I wish we had those fond memories to look back on, both in my childhood and my children’s lives.

But I’m very proud to have instituted a new tradition, all on my own. The Thanksgiving Tree. I printed leaf shapes on goldenrod paper, cut them out with a grandchild, hole-punched them, and tied on loops. Then at a recent family dinner (a weekly tradition), we all sat down and wrote the things we’re thankful for. Some wrote three, some four or even more, until we ran out of leaf shapes.

We read them out loud before hanging them on a little tree in the dining room. There are some other answers, but most say, essentially, “family.”

I think we’re doing okay.


  1. your grandkids are the luckiest, most blessed in all the world to have you both. and I don't feel tradition-deprived from my childhood. I think you did well, then, too. Tree or no tree. (hugs) Ali

  2. We had a lot of little traditions...thanks to my reading a book by a Catholic author and mother whose name I've forgotten. I wanted to be the tradition rich beloved mama that everyone remembered fondly in this big family. It sort of went like this. Dear children! Let's give baby Jesus presents for his birthday. We can do it by being good and kind to each other and doing nice favors for others. Then in these pretty little boxs you decorated, you can place a bean for each good deed and your box will get full of your "deed beans" and you can wrap them and take them to Church Christmas eve and lay them by the manger! 6 year old son: Mama we should put candy in the box instead of beans, that would be so much nicer than beans for Baby Jesus. Seemed like a great idea. All went well and advent went by. Boxes filled. Except one. No matter how many good deeds done. 6 yr old's box was always nearly empty. On Christmas Eve when the boxes were wrapped the 6 yr old was questioned about the abscence of gifts for Jesus from him. "Well, Jesus wanted them as soon as I did them instead and asked me to eat them for Him." A lot of other traditions sort of went the same way. BUt CHristmas traditions in the grown kids families don't include this one.

  3. Ali and Carole--Thank you!

    Mary--LOVE your story of your tradition!