Thanksgiving traditions become a blend of old and new

November 17, 2019

Sure, you can try that image of over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go. But there is no river and there are no woods, as the familiar poetic refrain as we know it rings out just before our traditional holiday of Thanksgiving. Today, it’s more likely through the toll plaza on an expired E-Z Pass, over the wrong GPS-directed bridge reduced to one lane, and barreling through potholes the size of Nevada on the highway.

And in keeping with that current theme of today, Grandmother has more than likely already left in her Silver Stream camper for southern places like the Villas of Sea Gull Phase III in Florida. Upon looking at the calendar and realizing that the traditional holidays are upon us, grandmothers all over the country have packed their suitcases and printed out their Travelocity sites. If you throw in a couple of soft blow-up donuts to sit on and the last carton of Metamucil available on the pharmacy shelf, then Grandma is off on the open highway, with her orange-cone-dyed hair flowing breezily through the open window. 

And who could blame the modern grandmother? After years of cooking for the family that calls only when they see those long-distance telephone commercials, baking for the masses which consist of two German Shepherds, cleaning rooms that haven’t been used in a year just for the holidays, making cable appointments to fix the television and computer after everyone has left, and booking a dumpster for the next day, it has finally dawned that maybe it’s time for Grandmother to try out Route 66 and leave no forwarding address until after the holidays.

It’s not that we don’t enjoy our children and grandchildren, but rather with the number of CAT scans being ordered, the number of blood tests our lives revolve around, and the number of waiting room butt sores happening, we are looking at life a little differently.

There is a whole world out there that grandparents are discovering: a world that includes stud poker, buffet dinners made by someone else, paragliding, speed dating and yes, wearing white after Labor Day. How about those Nationals?

Of course, grandmothers will have to forfeit those traditions of sitting around the table and soaking in the family memories. Growing up in our family, we always looked forward to our Aunt Kitchy’s famous turkey stuffing. None of us could ever eat it, since she was usually three sheets to the wind when she poured it into the turkey cavity. Often it would come out with things like an ash tray baked in or the DNA of unidentified inanimate objects. It was great to use as a weapon in those after-dinner football disputes that always got a little heated. I believe the U.S Department of Defense was looking to option it at one time or another. Anyway, those were the good times.

Seating around the table was crucial to a good family values meal back then. In fact, most people had a special table just for the children, so the adults could talk about mature topics like the rainforest or nuclear disarmament. Okay, that’s a stretch; it was mostly about prior family insults, like who regifted last year’s Christmas present of shrimp forks. The resolution of these issues often involved discussions that broke down as the evening wore on into something that resembled a good old-fashioned saloon knock-down, drag-out fight. Of course, the more radical members just put out a contract – for discussions, it goes without saying.

Either way, whether you are heading out over the river and through the woods, or just staying home for Thanksgiving, take comfort in the fact that the Butterball Turkey hotline is open 24/7 and easier to access than the new tax bill.                                                     

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter