Sunday, November 20, 2016

Traditions loom ahead

Every family treasures its own holiday traditions. For the Alter clan, the night before Thanksgiving (or Christmas—whenever we’re all together) is chili night. Brandon, Megan’s husband, makes killer chili; everyone else stands around watching, drinking margueritas, amd kibbutzing.

We used to combine with my brother’s family but there grew to be too many of us, so we split the holidays. This year we’ll go to his ranch to party with his family the day after Thanksgiving. There will be 30 of us, eleven of them children. Religious attention will be paid to the TCU-UT  game, with both side represented by family members. My brother is already joking about the conflicting cheering that will go on. I’m not a fan but would of course like TCU to win. If I understand correctly, neither team is having a particularly good year. Meantime, on Friday John will cook a couple of tenderloins in his "magic""" (commercial) oven ad we'll' bring queso and potato casserole.

Another thing we’ve grown too big for—seating all of us at a formal table. We number sixteen, ranging in age from 78 to nine. Jordan and I always set out serving dishes for any gathering days ahead of time, with little slips of paper in each indicating what goes in each dish. When Christian first saw this, he told Jordan, “You and your mother have a screw loose.” So did my mom, I guess, because she taught me that when I began helping her entertain—at about ten or twelve. Not sure what Jordan’s plan is this year—she’s the mistress of the castle now.

One tradition is going by the wayside: my annual tree trimming party. I’ve been giving it in one form or another since 1965. Divorce didn’t stop it but we missed two years—once for remodeling and once because of an angry husband. Every year about October I’d play the “Should I, or should I not” game but I always ended up giving it. This year there’s no game. No way I could have 60 of my nearest and dearest in the cottage, nor am I up to fixing all that food, I’m not making a cheeseball or caviar and cream cheese or all those things we loved from year to year. I often tried to inject a little variety but nobody liked that. A friend suggested I have an all-day open house—no food, just fellowship and, oh yeah, wine.

Jordan and Christian don’t feel settled enough in the house to undertake the annual party, and they always trim their tree together. I started those parties because even when I was a child, trimming the tree was a chore, no fun, finally relegated to the “little woman.” At my parties people arrived to a tree without ornaments; by the time the evening was over, every ornament was on the tree. Each year people brought new ornaments so I have an amazing collection—in the attic.

Times change, situations change, and you best change too—my family has had a real lesson in that this year. I imagine other traditions—church events, etc., will also get a bye this year. Who knows what will happen next?

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