Some traditions worth keeping

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 11/29/19

Traditions are like handles on suitcases. They give us something to hold onto as we move along. Without them, we’d be like water on a tabletop — just sliding around, going anywhere …

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Some traditions worth keeping

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Traditions are like handles on suitcases. They give us something to hold onto as we move along. Without them, we’d be like water on a tabletop — just sliding around, going anywhere anytime.

And by all accounts, common sense and experience, this time of the year — the Thanksgiving season — is full of traditions. And I love them both, the season and the traditions.

Among the big ones for me is the gathering of my immediate family — my own and my two brothers and their extended relatives who can make it — at one place for Thanksgiving. That place for sometime has been my place deep in the heart of an area that’s still-rural Chatham.

Once upon a time, that place where we gathered was at my folks (“folks” means “parents” for the non-natives) but through the years as more and more children arrived, we moved the event from there to here because there’s a bigger yard free of lots of passing traffic. Thus, the little people could go out into the back yard so they could play and we could hear and see them and we didn’t have to worry about a runaway semi hauling a load of hogs.

As our biological parents passed away and our other parents, Mother Nature and Father Time, took over and the children began to produce children of their own, that extra room was nice. Now it’s like breathing; we just all gather here and the more the merrier, as far as I’m concerned. Sometimes all the grandchildren and nieces and nephews can’t make it because of their own entangling alliances of in-laws and such but the day or days still rank high at the top. This year we’ve counted somewhere around maybe two dozen folks coming, including friends and neighbors and are now counted as regulars.

There are other traditions within that larger one. For instance, I’ll eat too much and then spend part of the afternoon moaning about what a moron I am for eating too much. At some point after that, probably when the Lions are losing another Thanksgiving Day football game on the tube — itself a tradition — I’ll stretch out on the couch and go to sleep.

Later on, we’ll all rouse from our slumber, at least those who are slumbering, to have another go at the table, to toss horseshoes in the backyard, to break out the Rook cards, or to trail after the little folks. And soon — too soon — the day will be a memory.

Here and there over the rest of the Thanksgiving holiday, we’ll do different things. We’ll eat some more (surprise) and play some more and visit other relatives. Years ago, some of us played golf but I quit when it got to where the ball wouldn’t stay still so I could hit it. Today most of the play centers on the horseshoes or a strong game of Rook that doesn’t involve too much moving around as we labor under 40 pounds of mashed potatoes and other stuff.

Traditions come and go through the years for practically everyone and what makes up some for some folks would seem a bit out of the ordinary for others. One that works that way for me is the tradition I have of not saying the words “Merry Christmas” or listening to carols or shopping until December 1. Call me a crusty old man or whatever but I just can’t get into “Black Friday.”

One reason that’s such a big deal for me is that the Thanksgiving season itself is such a good one on its own. But today I’d bet more folks from a certain age down, including a passel of youngsters, know more about Target or Kohl’s than they do a Pilgrim. And the tragedy of that thinking, to me, is that there’s more focus on “let’s get more stuff” than there is on “let’s be grateful and thankful for the stuff we have,” not to mention that being thankful isn’t just about “stuff.”

Through the years I have ranted and raved about the benefits of the American “Free Enterprise” system and I’m not against merchants being in the black as they work and try to stay in business.

It’s just that, I think, we could use a bit more Thanksgiving in our thanksgiving.

I hope you have some good ones...


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