Like holiday ribbon and Christmas lights, we’re spiraling headlong into the season of tangled traditions.
We always stuff the turkey. We never open gifts before Christmas mass. The (adult) kids have to be here for Thanksgiving. We crave sameness and predictability and rituals.
Guess what? Things change; I’m getting better with that.
My husband’s Southern family believes that a stuffed turkey is an invitation to a food poisoning party. We open Christmas gifts days, and sometimes weeks, before we know which mass we’re attending. And the kids? New marriages and out-of-state jobs require changed plans.
’Tis the season of fuzzy memories and sharp expectations. My mind runs a loop captured from images in old 8 mm home movies: Thanksgiving dinners with great-aunts in dressed-up softness passing mashed potatoes in china bowls. Choppy Christmas mornings of sleepy kids in matching pajamas stumbling into a roomful of Santa surprises.
The aunts have long passed. The china is in the attic, and the pajama-clad kids — at least one of them — is a magazine editor.
I like those memories, but it can be a disappointing holiday if they’re the foundation of expectations. We’ll be missing some folks at our Thanksgiving table this year — other commitments called. Our Christmas Eve has become a better fit with new faces and modified excesses. I’m thrilled the “kids” will be home for Christmas, and their quick visit will be special because the effort they’re making to travel here.
An open mind is handy in a lot of situations, especially during the holidays, but I’m not budging on the turkey issue. I’ll be polite and appreciative when I share a Thanksgiving dinner with my Southern relatives, but I’m looking forward to a REAL holiday turkey when we celebrate with my family here. Call me a risk taker.
Speaking of stuffing, this issue is stuffed with volunteers. Our annual Volunteer Salute highlights NEO Boomers who use their time and talent to help all types of people in all types of ways. We also have suggestions for finding a good volunteer fit. Read about it on Page 20.
With the foliage gone, winter is a great time for birdwatching. We asked local birders for tips on getting started, where to go and what you may see. It’s a “tweet” story (I couldn’t resist!) and it’s on Page 16.
The older I get, the less patience I have to wander around stores hunting for holiday gifts. I have to be in the mood to browse. If you like to shop locally but want options for shopping in person or from the comfort of your couch, check out our gift guide on Page 36 for places to buy interesting local gifts.
Enjoy. And I’m serious about that stuffing.