Don’t Pass The Gravy!

Martinez Thanksgiving 2014

With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas just around the corner, I got to thinking today about the role traditions play in our lives, especially during the holidays. You see our family is BIG on holiday traditions. At Easter, everyone in our family gets a new bathing suit in their baskets. Fourth of July would not be a holiday without my husband lighting up the sky with his very own fireworks display. On Christmas Eve, our children (although all adults now) still bake and decorate cookies and open one present with a new pajama to wear on Christmas morning.

So when we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving a little differently this year, I psyched myself into thinking that it wouldn’t be a big deal. Cristina was going to spend her first Thanksgiving away from home, and because she was in town the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, I decided that we would just celebrate the holiday 5 days early. After all the date didn’t really matter, what was important was that we were going to be together.

On the day of our celebration, my youngest Michael started a protest. He decided that what we were “doing” wasn’t Thanksgiving at all so he gave the occasion a new name, Thanks Day. I laughed it off and started to cook our holiday meal. We actually incorporated new dishes on our menu (which came out delicious), but many of our staples or traditional dishes were just not cutting it for the Thanksgiving table. The mashed potatoes turned into a thick paste, the turkey tasted like uncooked sour oranges, the gravy was lumpy, and the stuffing looked like play-doh. Surprisingly, I remained cool and kept reminding myself that there was no reason to get upset about a few dishes turning out badly because what really mattered was that everyone was together.

What I didn’t know was that while we were cooking, the men could not locate our box of decorations for our Thanksgiving table. We all soon joined the search and the box was nowhere to be found. No traditional harvest angel napkin rings (made for me 15 years ago by my friend Ana Gomez), no platter for the turkey, no gravy boat. “It will be okay,” I told myself, “we will just have a simple table without our Thanksgiving decor.” And suddenly I came to a realization…this meant that we weren’t even going to have the cute little Pilgrim salt and pepper shakers that we purchased many years ago at Publix. You know which ones I’m talking about right? I started to panic and began opening every cabinet in my kitchen, searching every closet and box in my house for Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim. There was no way I was going to continue this holiday without them! Seriously, I almost had a complete melt down. Now I know that this may sound funny to you, but knowing there wasn’t going to be a single traditional thing about this holiday was now starting to rattle me. And right before I was about to lose it, one of my kids recognizing the stress on my face, grabbed me and gave me a hug. So I took a deep breath, served our dinner, and proceeded to celebrate “Thanks Day.”

And although the food itself was sub-par, the company was just perfect. We decided as a family that instead going around the table and sharing one thing we were grateful for, we would all share something we were grateful about for EACH and EVERY person sitting at the table. And I’m going to be honest here; moments like this don’t come often. With growing children, new in-laws, and now even grandchildren in the picture, we have to make it a priority to create these moments when we are all together. The conversation we had that day as a family is one of the things I am most grateful to God for allowing me to experience this year. Jokes were told—“Remember that time you made me cry when I asked you to help me with my math homework? I’m not grateful for that.” Heartfelt and teary-eyed sentiments were shared—“Thank you dad for continually showing us what it means to have unwavering faith and hope in God.”

So it got me thinking. Had we had all of the distractions during our celebration in the form of our traditions, would we have made such an effort to tell each other how much we appreciated one another? Had the turkey and mashed potatoes turned out perfect, would we have spent more time talking about how much we were enjoying the food instead of how much we enjoyed and loved each other?

This year I am grateful for a not so perfect Thanksgiving. Grateful that God removed everything that made me comfortable, including our traditions, so that as a family we could all focus on what really does matter.

7 thoughts on “Don’t Pass The Gravy!

  1. Thanks for this! The timing is perfect!! Yesterday we returned home and bought a Christmas Tree. Then, the reality sank in that ALL of our Christmas ornaments (and everything else for christmas) are in a storage unit in Florida. The kids asked about item after item: “yeah, but we have the dishes, right? No? Well we have our ornaments, right? What about the Mr & Mrs Santa? ” All of a sudden I felt like it was going to be a really sad Christmas without all of our traditional “stuff”. I read your blog this morning and it made me realize that stuff ISNT christmas!! Maybe I now realize I’m guilty of teaching my kids to rely too heavily on stuff to know whether or not it’s the Christmas season. Thanks for your blog…it let me know that we CAN do Christmas without our traditional stuff, because we have each other 🙂 And it also made me aware that I need to institute some NEW traditions, that don’t rely on any stuff at all.

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  2. Mory,
    God must have known I needed you today! I decided to go over to Beachhouse to grab all our Christmas decorations before boys get home to decorate the house in Orlando. I’m totally sad driving over feeling kind of alone with all the boys not around – feeling kinda mad that I’m doing ALL the decorating and lights BY MYSELF, upset that I put all the Christmas stuff at the beach and not in the basement – because I wanted to have this house sold by this time and I haven’t even listed it because I’ve been so busy and then YOU – AWESOME YOU showed up with this blog – which might I say got me so choked up I had to stop what I was doing and truly sit down and read – without my ADD of doing 10 things at 1 time!! You nailed it – you nailed exactly what holidays are all about. We all go through changes – good and bad – but knowing your priorities with what’s most important – special time with family – creating memories that make your life worthwhile and get you through the not so great times.
    God is so so smart to make it “hard” on us by making us not have our daily comforts or holiday stupid traditional need met – so we can get back to what our lives are really all about – each other and spending every precious moment we can and thanking God for what he has blessed us with – you are right -it’s not the gravy or the perfect Christmas decorations!!!
    So from the very top of my head to the very bottom of my toes (and that’s a long way!!) I thank you for getting me back to what’s real and setting my mind right for the rest of the season!!! The decorations will go up – but maybe not perfect – I will put music on and won’t even mind doing it alone because I’ll know that being with my boys in a few weeks will make it ALL worthwhile -AND while I’m singing to the top of my lungs decorating my house I will be giving all my thanks to GOD for allowing me to be a mom, daughter, aunt, friend, cousin, partner, and confident to all those I love so dearly – And you my friend are at the top of that list!! Xoxo Jen

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  3. Just another reminder that we don’t need to sweat the small stuff and the only important things are God and family. All else is just life! Thanks for a great lesson!!!

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  4. Great blog Mory! Thank you for reminding us that anything can become a sacred cow, even the noblest of holidays and traditions. Reminding that family, loved ones, and gratitude should always be the main course always. Love the Martinez family!

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