Why We Shouldn't Sweat the Holidays

Last week I reported on a potential Thanksgiving dinner I was hosting.  Well, that didn’t actually turn out. But it got me thinking.  And when I get thinking, I start writing…


mundane (adj.): found in the ordinary course of events (synonym.com)

At times we get tired of the same old, same old. Go to work; return home. Eat dinner. Run errands. Repeat.

Even our conversations can get old and wear upon our nerves. My boss and I have the same conversation every few weeks for over 20 years.

“I need a timesheet for Tuesday from you,” I remind him.
“I thought I gave that to you,” he insists.
“Nope,” I say as his harried assistant.
“Hmmm, I really think I handed it to you,” my boss says back.

And this game goes on all morning, until he finds it in his briefcase and sneaks it onto my desk while I’m at lunch.

It’s the same situation at home:

“Where are the English muffins?” dear husband calls from the kitchen.
“In the ‘fridge” I yell back from the bedroom.
Some rumbling around is heard.
“Where?” he asks in frustration.
“Keep looking,” is my reply.

But, in a way, these conversations reminded me of why I’ve been reminiscing about past holidays. Exchanges at the holiday table seemed to be the same each year. I used to roll my eyes that I could recite our dinner conversations by heart. Funny how our personalities don’t change over the years.

 It’s the Monotony That We Soon Miss.

Because now I wish I could have one of those dinners back, with so many family members gone from our lives. Just one dinner where we are seated at the dining room table, discussing politics, religion, food, jobs, and even the weather.  I can recall one Thanksgiving with 8 inches of snow, but we still managed to travel to my aunt and uncle’s home on the north side of Chicago to gather as a group.



My aunt and uncle’s home was fun to visit.  We knew Aunt Wilma would put out a candy dish filled with melt-in-your mouth pastel mints – no one minded if we ate them before dinner.  We’d snack on chips and onion dip while we played in the basement, where Uncle George had a full-size bar,  His walls were decorated with an original 1959 White Sox pennant and a neon Hamm’s Beer sign with the rushing water lit up with flashing lights.  My brother and I would pretend we were ordering real cocktails — only to be served a root beer.



In our time together we could play one more game of Tripoley  and try to win at cards well into the dark evening hours.  And we’d all enjoy pie made from scratch.  Finally we’d depart in the cold night air carrying a plate of foil-wrapped leftovers to enjoy at home.


With so few family members left in the Chicago area, I tried to start a new tradition of hosting Thanksgiving for my husband’s family, but with no success.  I heard the news through the grapevine… the family was not interested in coming to our home for Thanksgiving dinner.  It seems they have their own solid traditions of where dinner is held.

I admit at being a little bit irritated.  Sometimes I think it’s easier to break into Don Corleone’s family than my in-laws’.



But I tried to understand their reasoning.  Can it be my cooking?  Yes.  Yes, it certainly can.

But they, too, have their own memories that they are holding onto with an iron grip.  And why shouldn’t they?  We all have memories of kin that we wish we could recreate once more.  Who doesn’t wish for a dinner table full of people that are no longer with us?


It’s time to be mindful of the present and engage with our family and friends who are able to join us.  Let’s allow ourselves to enjoy the holidays and embrace whoever shows up.  Eat homemade pie and ask for a second slice.  Now is the time to indulge ourselves.

And if things don’t turn out perfect, then so be it.  Because as the magnet on my fridge at home states:



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