When Kara approached me about doing a guest post on the topic of Thanksgiving, I was honored. I did have my reservations about the topic, however. I’m not anti-holiday by any means--I just tend not to blog about them. Simply put, my blog is the result of a one night stand between Dooce and Hacker News, adopted by mommy bloggers, and kidnapped by Perez Hilton before escaping with Alexander Supertramp. OK, so maybe I had a little too much fun with that description, and to be clear, I am not a bastard child. On the contrary, I come from a wonderful family rich with holiday tradition.
When my wife, Tara, and I were married a little over a year ago, there was one detail that I had not fully realized. (Actually, there were a lot of things, but for the emphasis of this piece, we’ll pretend that there was just one) That was the opportunity to start new traditions. In the beginnings of our marriage, people kept asking us if we had started any traditions. Finally it dawned on me: the book is ours to write! We can celebrate the holidays however we feel like. I love the family traditions that I grew up with, and I know Tara feels just as fondly about hers, but the freedom to mix, match, and most of all, create new traditions for our family is incredibly exhilarating for me.
Last Thanksgiving came just months after our wedding and a big move from Omaha, NE to Salt Lake City. Needless to say, we had been through a lot in that short time. A doctor told me that getting married, switching jobs, and moving are some of the three biggest stressors a person can face. Fortunately, that Thanksgiving, we had a lot to be thankful for. All of our prayers had been answered.
Far from family and closest friends, we endeavored to celebrate a holiday that typically calls for digging the leaf out of the closet and cramming tons of family and friends around the table, quietly, just the two of us. It was amazing. Although we may have felt slightly ashamed when telling others of our plans, quick to explain financial logistics keeping us home for the holiday, privately, we were excited about it.
The feast, in particular, was the object of our awe. This is something that we had taken for granted for our entire lives. Although we may have played helping rolls from time to time (haha, get it?), that turkey, and the meal in general, had always been someone else’s responsibility. The concept of taking it on ourselves was daunting and exhilarating.
We went all out--turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, veggies, and of course, pie. It was by no means easy. I think we spent half an hour alone wrestling that metal clamp from the turkey legs so we could remove the gizzards, and ended up eating at least two hours after the planned time. But none of this mattered! There was no one to impress, no one expecting to eat right at 2. And the food turned out amazing, and so much more rewarding to eat knowing that we had made it together. The next day, the food was still amazing. 3 days later, it was pretty good, and 5 days later it was decent. 2 weeks past, when we were still pulling turkey out of the freezer, it was OK, but I could have gone for a burger.
Now the big question: Did we start any traditions on our first Thanksgiving together? It’s hard to say specifically. Traditions are not always objective. I guess I may struggle with that stupid turkey clamp year after year, but I’d like to say that that won’t become a tradition. We did turn the “I’m thankful for...” activity into a drinking game. I think it’s safe to say that has solidified itself as a Newcomb family tradition, although, when we have kids, we may have to change drinking to eating brussel sprouts or something. Also, Husker football is, by default, a Thanksgiving tradition.
In conclusion to my conclusion, I’ve had many memorable Thanksgivings in my life, but last year's spent with my wonderful wife has by far been my favorite. It will be a story we tell our kids year after year until long after they’re sick of it.
Did you know that there is another Reynolds Tribe? Completely unrelated. So I think.