Friday, November 27, 2009

Non-Traditional Traditions

I've never been a huge fan of some holiday traditions.

I'm not quite sure why we "have to" eat Turkey and pumpkin pie on the fourth Thursday in November, why we wait until February 14 to express our feelings to someone or why people stress about neatly wrapping Christmas gifts only to have them torn apart the next morning.

Despite that, I'm usually roped into some level of tradition (yes, I ate turkey and the traditional mashed potatoes, gravy and other fixins yesterday), and to some extent I don't mind tradition.

It's just that I've always liked to think that I'd come up with my own traditions - doing something because I want to do it, not because society tells me it's what I should do. Heck, if I want to eat spaghetti on Thanksgiving, I should be able to - and be able to without people looking at me like I told them I was eating bugs on Thanksgiving. Right?

For the record, I don't want to eat spaghetti on Thanksgiving (it would be angel hair, anyway, not spaghetti), and I thoroughly enjoyed my traditional Thanksgiving meal with TC's family yesterday.

One of the things I liked most about it was that it was very much like my family's Thanksgivings - we'll experience that tomorrow when it's Turkey Day Part II for us - no expectation to dress up or act any differently just because it's a holiday.

I must give some major props to my mom here for stepping outside the box and suggesting that we celebrate on Saturday so that we don't have to rush around from place to place. Perhaps that's where I get a bit of my fondness for non-traditional traditions (I recall we once ate Chinese food on Easter), and I wouldn't be surprised if future Thanksgivings in the Robinson household were moved to Saturdays.

With the "kids" (I'm using that word loosely since we're technically and chronologically grown-ups now) being pulled in different directions with significant others, Thanksgiving at my family's was going to be hard to pull off in a traditional way. My parents realized they'd rather have us all together - even if, gasp, we celebrated on a Saturday - than to have some parts of the family absent or rushing in and out.

Without the stress of figuring out how we'd fit in all the "must-do's" into Thanksgiving Day, TC and I were left with a bit of free time in the morning. What a welcome change, as we're usually running around trying to squeeze everything we want to into our non-work hours.

Even as we were faced with this new opening in our schedules, we didn't feel compelled to sleep in, sit around in pajamas, watch television or anything else like that. Nope, not us.

Instead, we headed out for a morning run, mapping out a new route from my place, through parts of Londonderry we'd never traveled, and back. It was brisk, but a great morning for a run. The roads were quiet, and I figured everyone was still snuggled in their homes or already starting to prepare the turkey for the day's meal.

As we ran, we noted the sights and homes along this new route - which seemed to go uphill for the first four miles, seriously - and
for the most part, our conversation wasn't overly deep or meaningful. At many times we ran without saying much at all.

Still, I know we each appreciated being next to each other, for encouraging each other to do something active and productive on Thanksgiving and for finding happiness in this non-traditional tradition. A tradition of our own.

Kudos to TC for logging his longest run ever - 8.75 miles - especially since he was suffering a bit from what sounds like a reoccurring IT band issue near the later miles. We looped back to my place, where I dropped him off to shower and start getting ready for the day, while I added a few more miles to bring my day's total to 12.

As much as I don't want to get caught up in the I'm-thankful-for posts I've been bombarded with through my various social medial outlets during the past couple of days, I would be remiss if I didn't note that I'm particularly thankful for a few things this year. (In reality, I could probably fill up a whole notebook listing things I'm thankful for, so I'll hit just a few of the highlights here.)

I'm thankful that I have TC in my life. I'm thankful that he doesn't think I'm crazy to get up and run 12 miles on Thanksgiving morning. And even more thankful that he's someone who will join me and encourage me. I'm thankful for the everyday things we do together - traditional and not.

I'm thankful to be welcomed into TC's family Thanksgiving - and to feel totally, completely comfortable there. I'm thankful that I laugh and am not offended when someone at the table calls out the white elephant in the room (or in a case yesterday, one of the dog's odoriferous moments).

I'm thankful that I have parents who understand that Thanksgiving isn't about the turkey or gravy or, most especially, the day of the week.

I'm thankful that they know - and have taught me - that it's about spending time with family, being yourself and making your own traditions.

Even if those traditions aren't like anyone else's - or perhaps I should say, especially if those traditions aren't like any one else's.


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