Friday, November 23, 2007

Weaved Together

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, you need one.” - Jane Howard.

My memories of the holidays growing up are scattered at best. For many of my childhood years, my mom was a single working mom. Even before she was a single mom, she was most always the breadwinner in our family. Although, she worked VERY hard at her job, my mom also worked hard to make sure that my brothers and I had wonderful memories of holidays.

My mom worked in the restaurant business. She always worked on Thanksgiving Day to provide beautiful buffets and brunches for the families that did not want to cook. However, she would always work to get ready for our Thanksgiving dinner, too. She would dress a turkey and prepare casseroles the night before. One of us would start the turkey and casseroles in time for her to make it home for the finishing touches. I suppose it would have been easier for her to just have us meet her at the restaurant and have Thanksgiving dinner there. Not my mom.

This is the part that amazes me the most. She would bake each of us our favorite pie the night before. She still did this up until a couple of years ago. Cherry Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate Pie. When she remarried, and my stepdad's children moved in, she added their favorite pies - apple pie, peach cobbler. When I got married she started to make my husband's favorite - Pecan. It was insane the number of pies that woman would bake just to make sure everyone had a memory of their favorite part of Thanksgiving. I'll tell you what the tradition is 'round these parts. Pumpkin and chocolate pecan. Love 'em or leave em'.

After my first child was born I decided it was time to establish some of my own family traditions. It was at this time, that I set down the rule that if my extended family wanted to celebrate the holidays together, we would have to have Christmas at my home. "I was not going to cart my children around the country during the holidays!" Kinda bratty, huh? Although I think that creating new traditions for my own little family was important, I now see that it was very hard on my mom to give up her traditions of having her family gather on Thanksgiving for that favorite pie or lighting candles on Christmas Eve and watching us open that gift she just knew we wanted.

In her book, Five Star Family, Carol Kuykendall says , “as children grow up, they weave themselves farther and farther away from the original family pattern. New threads are added as children marry and eventually bring their own children into the family tapestry. They begin to create their own space and weave their own unique family circle which stretches and tugs at the fabric. Ultimately, of course, these new patterns add richness and texture to the family tapestry, but both the fabric and the threads need to be flexible enough to embrace all the growing and changing patterns.

My mom moved to NC a few years ago just in time for the holidays. I have to say it has been exciting for us to weave our family traditions together. Looking back on my holidays as a kid, I can now appreciate the time my mom took to establish festive and fun traditions. After going through a couple of holidays without her, I am finally able to recognize the value of what she worked so hard to do - - bring a family together and create memories. I hope to do the same for my children and when they leave to start weaving their own tapestry, I hope I can be as loving and patient as my mom has been with me.

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