Monday, November 28, 2016

Starting Family Traditions

"So what about Thanksgiving?" I was so pleased that my husband brought it up first.  Last year we hosted our first Thanksgiving, introducing it to 3 couples (all Czech-Czech except for one Czech-Irish) and their kids for the first time. It was such a warm and festive occasion that I shouldn't have been surprised at my husband's suggestion that we celebrate it again--in two different cities.

The challenge in this year was not in jostling dishes, timing cooking, and making sure we had enough silverware.  Rather, the challenge was how to cook a dinner with a nearly-7-month old who very much likes her snuggles and to be with mama at all times.  My husband ordered two (female) turkeys from the local turkey farm.  (Czechs are very clear in their language whether they're talking about male or female animals.) Last year's turkey was a beastly 11 kilos.  This year 5 kilos was definitely sufficient.

In a way I had a "trial run" in our first celebration.  That was by no means intentional, we just had two celebrations, and in the first most of the food was cold or lukewarm and people were too polite to accept my offer of warming plates in the microwave.  Still, leaves were plastered onto our thankfulness tree and smiles and chatter were exchanged.  At the second celebration we sat, stood and somehow gathered near our IKEA bamboo desk turned dinner table.  "We" included 8 adults, 1 toddler, 3 young boys, and 4 babies.  These 14 Czechs, 1 dual citizen (my offspring), and 1 American had gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving.  You may have read about last year's experience.  At that time, I was mostly concerned about the cooking.  This year, of course, I wanted the meal to be delicious, but I was a mother and a hostess before I was a cook.

Motherhood alters everything, sometimes only in ephemeral ways. With so many babies around, we couldn't very well do the solemn "around the table" everyone out loud thanks-giving.  But we could--over the noise of excited boys and tiny car wheels on plastic axels--speak out our thanks in jolted, zig-zag fashion.  We could write or draw on ochre and burnt umber leaves those dearest thoughts of thanks.  We could sit in corners shielding glasses of wine while boys navigated a toy car park and tumbled over plastic pins.  No, I didn't sing "For the beauty of the earth" before lunch as I wanted and I'm sure I neglected other niceties, but I could feel the thankfulness in the experience around me.  Who knows how many celebrations we'll host and how many big and little humans will be in attendance next year, but I'm thankful that this has been added to our family traditions.

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