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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Skipping Thanksgiving, with Gratitude
November 27, 2011 - 4:50pm

My husband and I were married on November 22, 1975, which was Thanksgiving day that year. It wasn't planned as a "theme wedding"; my mother had her heart set on a particular venue for the reception and that was their only open date for nearly a year.

It worked out nicely. Everyone we had invited from a sense of obligation had a built-in excuse for declining, and only the friends and relatives who really wanted to be there to share our joy made the trip. It was a beautiful, memorable occasion.

The ensuing years presented some problems, though. We loved our families, but participating in sometimes contentious family dinners was not our idea of a romantic anniversary celebration. So we developed the habit of traveling during the holiday, and spending Christmas doing whatever our families planned.

We broke the habit when Ben was born; we wanted him to experience more traditional family holidays. But now, all of his grandparents are gone. My brother's children are grown and scattered all over the world, and my sister-in-law has a close extended family with its own rituals and expectations. We are welcome to join them, and we sometimes do, with great pleasure, but if we don't, no one's feelings are hurt.

Which is why I am writing this from Barcelona. It is warm and sunny here, and pretty much nobody is aware that it is a holiday in the US. There were no turkey and cranberry specials in the restaurants; no images of pilgrims in storefronts. It was just another beautiful, fun day, and we enjoyed it to the hilt.

I imagine that if we have grandchildren one day, we will adjust our rituals again. For now, though, I can't imagine a more fulfilling way to spend the holiday than on an adventure with my family. We are all very thankful to be here.


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