December 5th, 2012 | 19 Comments »

***NOTE*** This blog post is part of Blissemas; if you comment at the end, you are entered into a competition to win a Kindle Fire! Whoo hoo! Instructions at the end of the post.

I love holidays. And I love traditions. Like Thanksgiving! What’s not to love about a huge meal with friends and family? Well, all the cooking, I suppose. OK, and some of the food. Like I never really liked mashed potatoes. They’re just too … mashed, somehow. And while I like cranberries in oatmeal cookies, I don’t like that solid jelly stuff that comes in cans. And then once I went vegetarian, the turkey wasn’t so appealing, and so neither was the stuffing and gravy . . . oh, and the getting ready. All that cleaning! And so little time! Because you have to have Thanksgiving dinner in the afternoon, because it’s a tradition. And you have to have it on Thursday, which is tough because you’ve been working like a crazy thing during that shortened Monday-Wednesday work week, so you’d be exhausted by Thursday even if you didn’t have to polish the silverware and vacuum the back rooms in case someone does wander back there, and oh, you’re out of vacuum cleaner bags, and the only store open is on the other side of town, because everything else is closed on Thanksgiving, and then you haven’t even started on the bathrooms and can you really be out of underwear? Where the hell did all your clean underwear go? Why couldn’t Thanksgiving be on a more sensible day?

I have a secret.

It can.

Mine is.

Yup, every year, we have Thanksgiving on Friday. Wednesday evening, exhausted from work, we have a simple dinner, maybe rent a video and polish some silverware or get the spots off the glasses (which were certainly put away last time with no spots, don’t ask me how that happens). Thursday we sleep late. And then get up naturally, rested, and have all day to casually cook and clean. By the time Friday afternoon rolls around, we’re actually ready. Not panicked. I have underwear and everything (on me, not for the guests). Are some guests double-invited? Makes no difference, their other dinner will be on Thursday. Because that’s a tradition.

And you know what else? We can eat whatever we please. Really. If we don’t have turkey and mashed potatoes, we’re not gonna get hounded by outraged pilgrims. We can have an entirely Middle Eastern meal — and we have. Or Mediterranean. We can serve those foods we most enjoy. And we’ve never, ever had a guest complain.

That’s the thing about holidays and traditions for me. They’re supposed to be joyous. If you all hate Aunt Margery’s jello-marshmallow salad, why the heck are you still eating it? If you’d rather have chocolate cake than pumpkin pie, who says you can’t? You’re free to make up whatever traditions and customs you please. Your mandate isn’t “Dinner must be served at 2:00.” Rather, it’s “Have a nice meal with people who are special to you.” Doesn’t matter if that food comes from a microwave or a restaurant, or if your guests are not related to you by blood. Or even if you don’t have any guests at all.

Same for any other winter holiday. Do you hate opening presents on Boxing Day? Then declare yourself American and open them on the 25th. Do you wish that grown-ups as well as kids could have Christmas stockings? They can, you know. Declare it a tradition, and hey presto! It’s a tradition for you. Hate cooking a Christmas ham? Then don’t. Do you think your New Year’s Eve party would be more fun if you didn’t have to cook? Declare it a potluck.

You probably can’t please everybody. My son was not fond of our Christmas tradition “No present-opening until after breakfast.” But that rule was so I could have my coffee. Without that coffee in me, nobody would have a fun day. Trust me on that. But you can talk sensibly with family and friends about those traditions that you’d all like to keep, and those that are particularly stressful for some members (someone may hate hanging lights, for example, more than someone else enjoys seeing them). Make new traditions. “From now on, it is our tradition to dance naked tango on Christmas eve!”

To enter the Blissemas drawing for a Kindle Fire, simply leave a comment on this blog about a) a holiday tradition you’d like to do away with; b) a holiday tradition you enjoy and want to keep; or c) a holiday tradition you’d like to start. (Like if you win a Kindle Fire, you could start a tradition of giving yourself an ebook every December 6, in honor of this blog post!) Oh, and it’s one entry per blog. If you write me about 17 traditions you’d like to axe, you don’t get 17 entries. You just get one. But you’re welcome to write about all 17 if you need to. Don’t forget to visit all the other Blissemas blogs to get more entries!

And have happy holidays. Really!

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